When Holtec International prepared its application for a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license to construct and operate a surface storage facility for high-level radioactive waste in southeastern New Mexico, it had a model to use. That model was the license application submitted by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) a year earlier to construct and operate a similar facility at its low-level radioactive and hazardous materials waste dump on the New Mexico – Texas border, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico. In addition, Holtec had the NRC’s request to WCS for supplemental information about their inadequate license application. Even so, in October, in response to NRC’s request for supplemental information about its likewise inadequate application, Holtec submitted more than 2,400 pages that were recently posted to the NRC’s website. https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1731/ML17310A218.html Holtec is submitting additional information.
The NRC raised many of the same concerns for both applications. WCS asked the NRC to put its application on hold because of opposition and possible bankruptcy. NRC likely will accept the Holtec application, at which time there will be at least one public meeting.
In New Mexico, Holtec proposes a surface facility, located on 1,000 acres halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad, for all of the U.S. commercial spent fuel.
The license application process is proscriptive and the applicants must meet not only the NRC’s regulations, but also federal regulations for nuclear facilities. The requirements include safe construction and operation; environmental protections; worker and public health protections; a radiation protection program; limits on worker exposure; transportation; procedures for taking samples of the waste containers to make sure they did not leak during transport; prevention of releases to water, air, and soil; responses to accidents and fires; and closure of the facility when it may be filled.
Nevertheless, Holtec’s original application omitted key information, including the gas, oil, and potash extraction activities in the area, the resulting subsidence, and the hazards associated with a nearby oil recovery facility. Holtec also omitted a hazard assessment about military, commercial and civilian air traffic above the site, including flights carrying hazardous cargo; assessment of corrosion of natural gas pipelines and potential explosions on and surrounding the site; and fully documenting nearby water bodies – streams, playa lakes and ephemeral drainages. Holtec did not include key figures and diagrams showing the site location; surface features; natural gas pipelines; and the maximum flood water level from a 7 1/2-inch monsoon.
Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, called the WCS and Holtec applications “sloppy.” He added, “The waste should stay at or near the reactors. The WCS and Holtec sites are unnecessary, dangerous, and costly. People should strongly oppose them.” http://www.sric.org/
To see what “diversity” and “multiculturalism” are in action you should have attended the High-Level Radioactive Waste Summit on December 9, 2017 in Roswell, organized by the Alliance for Environmental Strategies and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, or SEED Coalition.
Eddy and Lea Counties in New Mexico and Andrews County in Texas are targeted for storage of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear reactor waste for forty years or more, which could lead to dangerous de facto permanent dumps. Importing high-level radioactive waste to New Mexico and Texas would put millions of people at risk for financial and health impacts from potential accidents or incidents on rail, barges and/or highways.
In New Mexico, Holtec International proposes a consolidated interim storage facility, located on 1,000 acres halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad. In Texas, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) proposes the same for its existing low-level radioactive and hazardous waste dump on the Texas – New Mexico border, five miles east of Eunice.
Both entities have submitted license applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The WCS application has been put on hold due to litigation and possible bankruptcy. The Holtec application is under review. Once the NRC accepts it, the agency will hold at least one public meeting.
The Alliance for Environmental Strategies, based in Artesia, opposes plans to store and/or dispose of all of the commercial high-level radioactive waste in either southeastern New Mexico or west Texas. The Summit included discussions about the upcoming NRC public meetings and various ways to oppose the dumps.
Forty people, representing 22 groups, attended the Summit. New Mexico attendees were from Roswell, Artesia, Eunice, Hobbs, Nara Visa, Pueblo of Acoma, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. UNM students in Eileen Shaughnessy’s Nuclear New Mexico course, as well as students from the Nuclear Issues Study Group that organized the recent three-day Dismantling the Nuclear Beast Symposium, attended. Out of state attendees were from Fort Worth, Austin, and Tacoma Park, Maryland.
Rose Gardner, of Eunice, has been opposing nuclear and radioactive industry projects since 2003. She began by opposing the uranium enrichment facility in Eunice.
The tax giveaways and an $1.5 billion industrial revenue bond caused regional economic problems that have not been solved. Eunice was required to pay the unpaid gross receipt taxes back to New Mexico, which impacted jobs in public service and education.
Gardner is also concerned about the transportation of high-level radioactive waste. She said, “My family is driving up these roads every day. To me, it is a danger to the entire area.”
Ed and Patty Hughs, of Nara Visa, gave a presentation about how their community came together earlier this year to successfully stop the Department of Energy’s plans to drill exploratory boreholes for radioactive waste.
Activists involved in similar fights highlighted the proposed facilities that were stopped by community action. These include Ward Valley in California, Sierra Blanca in Texas, Skull Valley in Utah, and Mescalero Apache in New Mexico.
Kay Matthews, editor and writer for La Jicarita, an online magazine of environmental politics in New Mexico, reported on the excellent Dismantling the Nuclear Beast Symposium, held from December 1st through 3rd at the University of New Mexico campus. Her article is provided below:
Dismantling the Nuclear Beast
By KAY MATTHEWS
To see what “diversity” and “multiculturalism” are in action you should have attended the “Dismantling the Nuclear Beast Symposium” at the University of New Mexico last weekend. When I walked into the conference room on Saturday the attendees introducing themselves ranged from the Navajo Nation, Jemez Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, Alaska, Utah, Arizona, Española, California, Tularosa, Albuquerque, White Mountain (Ute Mountain Utes), Santa Clara Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, and Taos. They represent organizations that are fighting to dismantle the nuclear beast from uranium mining and enrichment to weapons production and nuclear waste storage: The Nuclear Issues Study Group; Diné No Nukes; Citizen Action New Mexico; Laguna/Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment; Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety; Nuclear Watch New Mexico; Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment; Tewa Women United; Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium; Alliance for Environmental Strategies; Haul No!; and Southwest Research and Information Center.
The mining and milling of uranium has hit New Mexico particularly hard. Along what is referred to as the Grants mineral belt and on the Navajo Reservation are the remnants of underground such as La Jara Mesa, Roca Honda Mine, Mount Taylor Mine, Marquez Canyon Mine, four proposed surface mines in the Churchrock/Crown Point area, and 13 abandoned mines within a five mile radius of Churchrock. The open pit Jackpile Mine at Paguate, on Laguna Pueblo, sends radioactive dust into the air, and the former mill sites of Ambrosia Lake, Kerrmac, and Homestake near Milan have contaminated the groundwater and plumes are heading towards Grants and Bluewater. On July 16, 1979, 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island radiation release, the Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal pond breached its dam and 1,100 tons of radioactive mill waste and approximately 93 million gallons of mine effluent flowed into the Rio Puerco, through the town of Gallup, and into Arizona. The contaminated water left residues of radioactive uranium, thorium, radium, and polonium, as well as traces of metals such as cadmium, aluminum, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, sodium, vanadium, zinc, iron, lead and high concentrations of sulfates.
A precipitous drop in uranium prices in the 1980s squelched the mining and milling boom that created this development, but the panelists at the Saturday morning symposium are still dealing with its residue and anticipating its possible rebirth if the price of uranium once again increases. Klee Benally, a Diné activist who lives in Flagstaff, told the audience that 10 million people live in close proximity to abandoned uranium mines that have yet to be cleaned up; 3,272 of those mines are located in five western states. Because uranium is classified a “hard rock” mineral, it falls under the auspices of the 1872 General Mining Act that allows mining companies to avoid responsibility for clean-up (several bills to reform the Mining Act were introduced in the 2000s but were defeated by the mining lobby).
Chris Shuey of the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) explained that the Superfund program is the only law with oversight over these clean-up sites and it’s sorely inadequate; only the Environmental Protection Agency and the corporations responsible for the contamination have a seat at the table to determine the clean-up operation. The billion dollars that has been spent on settlement negotiations has addressed only 40 percent of identified mines.
Yolanda Badback, of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe of Utah, lives in a community called White Mesa that lies five miles north of the White Mesa uranium mill, the only conventional uranium mill operating in the United States today. While the mill is currently undergoing a licensing renewal, there are plans to ship clean-up waste from mines and mills that are no longer in operation to the White Mesa mill. Badback wants the mine closed: her community has to drink bottled water because of aquifer contamination.
. . . . .
The afternoon panel consisted of activists who are engaged in the second phase of the nuclear beast: the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste storage. Beata Tsosie-Peña and Kathy Sanchez of Tewa Women United spoke about the impacts of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which sits on the Pajarito Plateau directly above their pueblos, on the environment, on their cultural connections, their art, and their personal lives. Myrriah Gomez, who is a UNM professor in the Honors College, spoke of her grandparents, who were part of the homesteaders community on the Pajarito Plateau forcibly removed when the Army took over the area to establish the Lab during World War II. Born and raised in El Rancho, where her family relocated, Gomez now works with both Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), and the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.
These two groups are led by powerful New Mexico women, Joni Arends and Tina Córdova. Córdova, born and raised in the small Hispano village of Tularosa, founded the Consortium in 2005 to force the U.S. government to acknowledge the impact on downwinders of the first nuclear blast test detonation at the Trinity Site near Tularosa in 1945. These “unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated, innocent victims” have suffered debilitating health defects from the radioactivity released during the bomb test. Her group has been pushing for a bill in Congress to include the Tularosa Downwinders in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that covers uranium miners and workers exposed to atmospheric nuclear testing (according to Córdova, $2 billion has thus far been paid in compensation). The bill has been held up in Congress for seven years, and a recent hearing on the bill was postponed.
. . . . .
Joni Arends has been demanding accountability at LANL for 30 years as an opponent of the Waste Isolation Pilot Program and director of CCNS. More than 21 million cubic feet of toxic waste has been buried at LANL since 1943. Joni has done the due diligence necessary to monitor the Lab’s adherence to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that deals with the disposal of hazardous waste at LANL. Numerous violations have occurred over the years: monitoring wells designed to measure underground contamination were inadequately designed and built; chromium plumes extend from the Lab’s boundaries towards the Rio Grande. Since 2010 Joni has been working with Tina Córdova and the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium to prepare a Health Impact Assessment on the downwinders.
While the moderators of the symposium, Leona Morgan (Diné) and Eileen Shaughnessy (UNM professor), co-founders of the Nuclear Issues Study Group, stressed throughout the day that the gathering was not only a report on the history of the nuclear industry and the battles currently being waged to dismantle it, but also a pledge of resistance with innovative ideas on how to proceed. But the last panelist on Saturday’s schedule, Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, acknowledged the difficulties of this fight in his discussion of current political realities. LANL currently spends $1.7 billion dollars a year on nuclear weapons production; Sandia Laboratory in Albuquerque spends $1.8 billion. Kirtland Air Force Base stores 2,500 warheads on the outskirts of Albuquerque. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages all things nuclear under the Department of Energy, has requested a $10.2 billion budge for 2018. Our congressional delegation continues to support pit production (the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon) at LANL, development of the so-called smart weapons, the stockpile stewardship program—in other words, all things nuclear. In the meantime, poverty listings by state (including Washington D.C.) rank New anywhere from 47th to 51st.
. . . . .
Politically, our resistance has to debunk their rationale that these nuclear industries are the engines that drive the economy of New Mexico; all nuclear conductors should be fired and replaced with alternative energy drivers. A billion dollars spent on clean-up at both Labs and at Kirtland could provide thousands of jobs and perhaps save us from the chromium plume headed towards the Rio Grande, contamination from Sandia’s mixed waste landfill, and Kirtland’s jet fuel plume flowing beneath the streets of Albuquerque.
Signing the U.N Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be a huge step towards this goal. The indigenous people of the world, those who “have been most negatively impacted by nuclear colonialism,” are taking a leading role
in the work necessary to dismantle this nuclear beast. They are the resistance.
On Sunday, December 10th, the Norwegian Nobel Committee will award the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony will be streamed live on https://www.nobelprize.org/index.html and https://www.youtube.com/nobelprize It will be held at the Oslo City Hall at 1 pm Central European Time, or 5 am Mountain Standard Time in New Mexico.
On October 6, 2017, the Committee announced the award. It said ICAN “is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.” https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2017/press.html
ICAN responded by saying, “It is a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.
“The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.
“This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.
“It is a tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the hibakusha – and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose searing testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in securing this landmark agreement.
“The treaty categorically outlaws the worst weapons of mass destruction and establishes a clear pathway to their total elimination. It is a response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community that any use of nuclear weapons would inflict catastrophic, widespread and long-lasting harm on people and our living planet.
“We are proud to have played a major role its creation, including through advocacy and participation in diplomatic conferences, and we will work assiduously in coming years to ensure its full implementation. Any nation that seeks a more peaceful world, free from the nuclear menace, will sign and ratify this crucial accord without delay.
“The belief of some governments that nuclear weapons are a legitimate and essential source of security is not only misguided, but also dangerous, for it incites proliferation and undermines disarmament. All nations should reject these weapons completely – before they are ever used again.
“This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.
“We applaud those nations that have already signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and we urge all others to follow their lead. It offers a pathway forward at a time of alarming crisis. Disarmament is not a pipe dream, but an urgent humanitarian necessity.”
ICAN concluded by saying, “We most humbly thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Before it is too late, we must take that path.” http://www.icanw.org/action/nobel-peace-prize-2017-2/
On Monday, December 11th, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo will host an event called “Across Dividing Lines.” It will address indigenous rights within the context of social justice and environmental protection. The forum will recognize the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It will also recognize the 25th anniversary of Dr. Rigoberta Menchu Tum receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with indigenous peoples’ rights. She will give the keynote about the state of affairs of indigenous peoples in the world, including resistance at Standing Rock and the Nussir copper mine in Norway. It will be streamed live from 10 to 11:30 am Central European Time, or 2 to 3:30 am Mountain Standard Time, at https://www.nobelprize.org/events/nobel-peace-prize-forum/index.html and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-V6odR7HzLCuqjYeowPjLA
Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “CCNS appreciates and recognizes the leadership and diligent work ICAN provided to civil society and the United Nations for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We are grateful that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded ICAN the Nobel Peace Prize. We look forward to ratification of the treaty. CCNS will do our part here in New Mexico to ensure the treaty becomes international law at the earliest possible date.”
The City of Santa Fe And Santa Fe County
Buckman Direct Diversion Board Meeting
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2017
SANTA FE COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
COUNTY COMMISSION CHAMBERS
102 GRANT AVENUE
1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
4. APPROVAL OF CONSENT AGENDA
5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM THE OCTOBER 5, 2017 BUCKMAN DIRECT DIVERSION BOARD MEETING
6. REPORT ON DECEMBER 5, 2017 FISCAL SERVICES AUDIT COMMITTEE (FSAC)
7. Monthly Update on BDD operations. (Michael Dozier)
8. Presentation on Los Alamos National Laboratory Clean Up Efforts. (Charles Vokes, Kyle Harwood and LANL) VERBAL
9. Status Update on Water Reuse Strategy, Planning and Implementation. (Kyle Harwood, Bill Schneider and Rick Carpenter)
10. Report from the Executive Director. (Charles Vokes) VERBAL
11. Request for approval of the 2018 Buckman Direct Diversion Board Meetings Calendar. (Stephanie Lopez)
12. Request for approval of the 2018 Fiscal Service and Audit Committee (FSAC) meetings calendar. (Christi Manzanares)
DISCUSSION AND ACTION
13. Request for approval of payment to the Bureau of Land Management in the amount of $74,565.65 for BDDB Right-of-Way rental fees. (Mackie Romero)
14. Request for approval to file an application to convert to perpetuity, the BLM Right-of-Way permits for the BDD Project. (Nancy Long)
15. Request for approval of Amendment No. 5 to the Professional Services Agreement with Alpha Southwest, Inc. for
the Raw Water Lift Station pump rebuild project for the amount of $120,000.00 exclusive of NMGRT. (Mackie Romero)
a. Request for approval of a Budget Amendment Resolution to authorize funds from the Major Repair and Replacement Fund to cover the cost of the project.
MATTERS FROM THE PUBLIC
MATTERS FROM THE BOARD
NEXT REGULAR MEETING: Thursday, January 4, 2018 @ 4:15pm
In accordance with the New Mexico Open Meetings Act
NMSA 1978, § 10-15-1 (H)(7), discussion regarding threatened or pending litigation in which the BDDB is, or may become, a participant, including without limitation: Discussion regarding Diversion Structure issues. (Nancy R. Long)
End of Executive Session
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN NEED OF ACCOMMODATIONS, CONTACT THE CITY CLERK’S OFFICE AT 505-955-6520, FIVE (5) WORKING DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE
Senior managers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) reduced the amount of plutonium-contaminated waste that could be stored at the new $97 million transuranic waste facility, or TRU Waste Facility, so that operations could begin. They also prohibited the storage of pipe overpack containers holding very small plutonium particles that are easily inhaled if released into the environment. And finally, they required that freezing problems with the fire suppression system be fixed before a total of 1,240 drums of plutonium-contaminated waste generated by nuclear weapons manufacturing may be stored there. The stored waste is destined for disposal at the deep underground dump in southeastern New Mexico, called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
Under Department of Energy (DOE) regulations, the new TRU Waste Facility has been determined to be a hazard category 2 nuclear facility. The LANL contractors are required to perform a hazard analysis of the nuclear activities at the new facility. After reviewing the processes, operations, or activities, they evaluated the consequences of an unmitigated release of radioactive, hazardous, and toxic materials into the environment. An unmitigated release means there are no filters on any air exhaust shafts and no treatment of contaminated water. The results of the hazards analysis revealed that the new TRU Waste Facility is a hazard category 2 nuclear facility, meaning that there is a potential for significant on-site consequences to workers and the public. https://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/multiplefiles2/DOE%201992%20DOE-STD-1027-92.pdf, p. 10.
In order to begin operations, some of the risks needed to be reduced.
A recent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report detailed the compromise made by the Senior Review Board at LANL, which is comprised of senior National Nuclear Security Administration personnel and Los Alamos Field Office personnel from the National Nuclear Security Administration, to reduce the amount of waste stored at the facility, prohibit the storage of pipe overpack containers, and address potential fire accidents.
Remarkably, not all of the members of the Safety Basis Review Team concurred with the final safety evaluation report. The report continues, “It should be noted, however, that four out of the eleven members of the [Safety Basis Review Team] (as well as their direct supervisor) did not concur on the final [Safety Evaluation Report] approved by the [Senior Review Board].” Id.
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board did commit to review the documented safety analysis addressing the prohibitions when it is released six months following the start of operations at the TRU Waste Facility, or in May 2018. Id.
Safety basis is defined as “the documented safety analysis and hazard controls that provide reasonable assurance that a DOE nuclear facility can be operated safely in a manner that adequately protects workers, the public, and the environment.” 10 CFR § 830.3(a) – Nuclear Safety Management for DOE.
The days following Thanksgiving provide shoppers with many ways to save money during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Then shoppers may turn their savings into tax-deductible contributions to worthy non-profit organizations on Giving Tuesday. On Tuesday, November 28th, CCNS will actively participate in the statewide coalition of #GivingTuesdayNM. Please give generously to support the weekly production of the CCNS News Update with your tax-deductible contribution to CCNS. On Tuesday, please go to #GivingTuesdayNM, or go directly to http://nuclearactive.org/ to use PayPal to make your tax-deductible contribution.
Each day, CCNS works to keep you informed about the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico – from the birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory, to the place where the plutonium contaminated nuclear weapons waste is disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In between, CCNS keeps you informed about the consequences of the daily operations of these sites: the emissions of pollutants into the air, discharges to surface water and ground water, and burial of radioactive, toxic, and hazardous waste in unlined pits, trenches, and shafts, above drinking water aquifers and the Rio Grande. We also keep you informed about harm done to workers and people living around these sites, including the Trinity test downwinders and uranium workers. We know you are busy and for that reason, CCNS provides you with sample public comment letters you can use to express your concerns to federal, state, and local officials and decision makers.
We also keep you informed about events in New Mexico dealing with nuclear issues. Following Giving Tuesday, there will be two gatherings.
The first is the “Dismantling the Nuclear Beast Symposium,” beginning at 2:30 pm on Friday, December 1st, running through Sunday, December 3rd at 5 pm. The symposium, with accompanying art, poetry and music events, will be held at the Hibben Center on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, near the corner of University and Martin Luther King Boulevard. The full program will be posted soon at https://nuclearnewmexico.com/
The second is the “Summit to Halt High-Level Radioactive Waste Dumping,” on Saturday, December 9th from 9 am to 5 pm at the Comfort Suites, 3610 North Main Street, in Roswell, New Mexico. It is sponsored by the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, which is opposing plans to store and/or dispose of all of the commercial high-level radioactive waste in either southeastern New Mexico or west Texas. For more information, please visit http://nonuclearwasteaqui.org/ or contact Noel Marquez at email@example.com.
Since 2015, the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNPE), a program of United Way of Central New Mexico, has made it easy for donors, volunteers and other organizations to find New Mexico nonprofits running #GivingTuesdayNM campaigns. The CNPE is funded through United Way’s Corporate Cornerstones program and the generous support of United Way’s Community Fund donors.
In response to the Administration’s March 13, 2017 Executive Order to reorganize the executive branch of government, Sean Sullivan, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, made two proposals: one, to eliminate the Board; and two, to reduce the workforce by 32 percent. Since its creation by Congress in 1988, the Board has served as an independent government oversight body of the nuclear weapons complex, including the three Department of Energy (DOE) sites in New Mexico – Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). They provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the DOE Secretary.
In support of eliminating the Board and saving the federal government $31 million, Sullivan argued that the Board’s work duplicates the DOE’s internal oversight through its Office of Enterprise Assessments. Sullivan recognized that complete elimination of the Board “might be susceptible to political blowback.” For that reason, Sullivan also proposed a workforce reduction from 120 employees to 82.
Moving technical employees from Washington, DC to the DOE sites could save approximately $7 million, a small percentage of the proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget for 2018. Sullivan proposed to increase the number of field personnel at LANL to six, while adding Sandia and WIPP to their workload.
Santa Fe County Commission Chambers at 102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe
Given the recent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reports, and articles by the Santa Fe New Mexican and Center for Public Integrity about the chromium and perchlorate plume below LANL; the safety and security issues; and plans to expand plutonium pit production; the proposed Resolution requests:
the New Mexico Environment Department strengthen the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Cleanup Consent Order to require additional characterization of legacy nuclear waste;
the Department of Energy to
request increased cleanup funding from Congress;
significantly increase safety training; and
suspend any planned expanded plutonium pit production until safety issues are resolved.
The Nuclear Issues Study Group will hold a unique and timely symposium at the University of New Mexico in December to connect local activists with the national anti-nuclear movement. The Nuclear Issues Study Group is an Albuquerque-based collective of students and organizers who, since 2016, have been meeting to address nuclear issues statewide. The gathering will be held Friday, December 1st, through Sunday, December 3rd, at the Hibben Center on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque near the corner of University and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The Nuclear Issues Study Group states, “It is no secret that New Mexico has been and continues to be greatly impacted by every link of the nuclear fuel chain. From uranium mining and enrichment, to weapons production and nuclear waste storage and disposal, New Mexico is quite literally in the ‘belly of the beast.’”
One of primary goals of the symposium is to make information about nuclearism accessible and to get more people, especially students, young people, and people of color, involved in resisting the nuclear beast. The Symposium will highlight some key threats to New Mexico, including Albuquerque’s best-kept secret, the Mixed Waste Landfill at Sandia National Laboratory, and the proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in the southeastern part of the state for high-level radioactive waste from all of the nuclear reactors across the country. The weekend will include presentations, panel discussions, and information tables, plus poetry, art, film, and music.
Graham Unverzagt, a member of the Study Group and an UNM graduate says, “New Mexico has a long history of nuclear colonialism that has never been addressed, and I think it’s time that the nuclear movement be centered around those who have been impacted the most. Growing up in Grants, New Mexico, you are always taught about the boom times during uranium mining, but living there, you can see the lasting effect it’s had on the landscape and the people, economically and physically.”
Klee Benally of Navajo Nation
Musicians, including Eileen & the In-Betweens, Sina Soul, Walatowa Massive plus DJ Jezmundo, will perform along with poets, Whisper and Celestino Crow. A virtual reality installation by Klee Benally will take center stage highlighting how art is an essential element of every movement.
Speakers will include Verna Teller, former Pueblo of Isleta governor and current tribal council member; Diane D’Arrigo, from Nuclear Information and Resource Service, based in Washington, D.C.; and Leona Morgan, cofounder of Diné No Nukes and the Study Group. They will share their stories, their work, and how we can take action to protect our health, environment and communities.
Wherever the Yellow X is seen it will convey the message nuclear weapons are illegal.
When Silence Is Not An Option
Will a nuclear weapons ban make the world safer?
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT THE TULAROSA BASIN DOWNWINDERS CONSORTIUM ON RECA AMENDMENTS
Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Minority Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and ask them to set the date for the RECA Oversight Hearing. Knowing the September hearing date will allow us to properly prepare for the hearing. The hearing will be televised on C-SPAN and on the Judiciary Committee’s website.