Current Activities

Clean Water Act Action Needed on Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Persistent Toxic Pollutants

As drought continues, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission will take up important regulatory water issues, including how to define the two phrases, contaminants of emerging concern and persistent toxic pollutants.  An unfortunate principle in water regulation is dilution is the solution to pollution.  During drought, when there is less water to dilute pollutants, concentrations increase and cause harm.

The Clean Water Act requires states to review their water quality standards every three years.  The process is called the Triennial Review.  Unfortunately, the Triennial Review process takes longer than three years to complete.  For example, the last Triennial Review took seven years to wrap up and the one before that took nine.  Such delays result in fewer reviews.  During this time, three more reviews could have been done.  Such delays benefit the regulated community because more protective regulations are not debated and possibly approved.

The next Triennial Review public hearing begins on Tuesday, July 13th.  The industries challenging the proposed pollutant definitions are the New Mexico Mining Association, the San Juan Water Commission, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Those supporting the proposed definitions are Amigos Bravos, Communities for Clean Water, the Gila Resources Information Project, and the Buckman Direct Diversion Board.  There will be opportunities for the public to provide comments before and during the multi-day virtual hearing.  https://www.env.nm.gov/water-quality-control-commission/wqcc-20-51-r/

Emerging and persistent pollutants are suspected of causing harm to the ecology and human health, but have not been thoroughly studied to establish regulatory standards.  Contaminants of emerging concern include chemical compounds found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products.  https://www.env.nm.gov/water-quality-control-commission/wqcc-20-51-r/ See Pleading Log No. 6, NMED’s March 12, 2021 Notice of Amended Petition for proposed definition at 20.6.4.7.C(7), p. 3. Persistent toxic pollutants are those that resist degradation, easily bioaccumulate, and harm aquatic life and human health.  https://www.env.nm.gov/water-quality-control-commission/wqcc-20-51-r/  See Pleading Log No. 6, NMED’s March 12, 2021 Notice of Amended Petition for proposed definition at 20.6.4.7.P(3), p. 5.

One class of the persistent pollutants is PFASs, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.  PFASs have been around since the 1940s and are found in Teflon and in military-grade fire retardants.  It is estimated there are between 5,000 and 10,000 individual PFASs.  https://www.env.nm.gov/pfas/main/

In New Mexico, there are large PFASs groundwater plumes at Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases.  https://www.env.nm.gov/pfas/main/  Most New Mexicans rely on groundwater for their drinking water.   

This week the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing about “PFAS:  The View from Affected Citizens and States” to learn what citizens and states need from the federal government to address them.  New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney provided written and verbal testimony.  He stated that people must be protected from drinking contaminated water and urged the Environmental Protection Agency to establish national drinking water standards for PFASs.  The archived webcast and written testimony is available at:  https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/6/pfas-the-view-from-affected-citizens-and-states

Debate about whether New Mexico would adopt them could occur in the next Triennial Review.


Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 

 

1.  Every Friday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2.  Wednesday, June 16th from 2 to 4 pm – Individual Stormwater Permit for LANL Virtual Public Meeting. Presentations by Communities for Clean Water and N3B about Draft Permit Update and Monitoring Plan Overview, Proposal for Site-specific Copper Water Quality Criteria, and Enhanced Controls – 2021 Plans.  The last 30 minutes is devoted to Questions & Answers.  LANL is required under the Settlement Agreement with the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) to hold semi-annual public meetings about its implementation and compliance with the EPA permit.  https://ext.em-la.doe.gov/ips

 

 

3.  Th. June 24th from 5:30 to 7 pm – NM Environmental Law Center Environmental Justice Series about Radiation Contamination in Northern New Mexico with the Communities for Clean Water. CCW’s mission is to ensure that community waters impacted by LANL are kept safe for drinking, agriculture, sacred ceremonies, and a sustainable future.  To register:  https://nmelc-ejseries-ccw.eventbrite.com  

 

What Does DOE’s Nuclear Weapons Budget Request Say?

On Friday evening, before the long three-day Memorial Day weekend, the Department of Energy (DOE) released its Fiscal Year 2022 congressional budget request for nuclear weapons activities, including production of plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  https://www.energy.gov/cfo/articles/fy-2022-budget-justification  The line item for Total Weapons Activities totals $15.48 billion, a slight increase over the congressional appropriation in Fiscal Year 2021 of $15.35 billion.  Of that, DOE requests $1.01 billion under the “Los Alamos Plutonium Modernization” line item for the nuclear bomb production plant. 

It is essential to note that for the past 28 years, the DOE’s programs for nuclear weapons and environmental management have appeared on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.  https://prod.drupal.gaotest.org/high-risk-list

Further, last month the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 10-year review of the projected costs for nuclear forces administrated by the Department of Defense (DOD) and DOE.  Nuclear forces include ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons laboratories and supporting activities.  CBO produces the legally required review every two years.

For the period 2019 to 2028, CBO projected a nuclear forces cost of $494 billion.  Two years later, for the period 2021 to 2030, CBO projects a 28 percent increase to $634 billion, or an increase of $140 billion.  https://www.cbo.gov/publication/57130

The previous administration increased LANL’s annual budget by about $1 billion for fabrication of 30 plutonium triggers in the next couple of years.  This funding remains in the Biden Administration’s budget request.  Even though these plans have been on the table for years, it is unlikely LANL will be able to accomplish this task.  As a reminder:  LANL is the only facility in the USA capable of fabricating plutonium triggers.

See also May 18, 2021 presentation by LANL Operations Manager Kelly Beierschmidt to the Los Alamos County Council (Agenda Item No. 7B) about recent construction and future plans.  https://losalamos.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2377  – at 1:10:25 Beierschmidt states, “We’ve almost added an entire other national lab to the mission space of Los Alamos.”  Powerpoint slides at https://losalamos.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4955888&GUID=E033E97E-3563-4637-918F-5D912049C6F4&Options=&Search=

The previous administration proposed that a second facility be established at the Savannah River Site, located in South Carolina, for fabricating 50 plutonium triggers annually.  In 2018, DOE estimated the cost to be $4.6 billion.  As a clear example of why DOE is on the GAO’s High Risk List, the projected cost has more than doubled to over $11 billion.  https://srswatch.org/doe-admits-in-fiscal-year-2022-budget-request-that-cost-of-srs-plutonium-bomb-plant-soars-to-11-1-but-annual-funding-levels-not-enough-for-project-viability-billion/

Like administrations going back to President Clinton, the Biden administration has pledged to conduct a nuclear posture review, which is a review of whether the USA’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective to protect the country, our allies, and deters adversaries.  It is unknown how the review will impact the nuclear weapons budget.  https://srswatch.org/new-nuclear-posture-review-npr-to-assess-need-for-new-nuclear-warheads-and-plutonium-pit-plan-including-proposed-srs-plutonium-bomb-plant/

Joni Arends, of CCNS, asks whether Congress will hear the nation’s pleas for funding social concerns over fabricating more nuclear weapons.

For more details, please visit our website at http://nuclearactive.org/ , Nuclear Watch New Mexico at https://nukewatch.org/ , and Los Alamos Study Group at http://www.lasg.org/


We are Podcasting! 

 

 

1. Every Friday from noon to 1 pm– Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2. Monday, June 7th from 9:30 am to 12:45 pm – First Virtual Meeting of the NM Legislature Interim Radioactive & Hazardous Materials Committee. Agenda items include a discussion of the 2021 Interim Work Plan & Meeting Schedule and a 75-minute presentation by NM Environment Department Secretary James Kenney – Overview of the NMED’s Regulation of Radioactive & Hazardous Materials.  Public comment is scheduled to begin at 12:15.  https://nmlegis.gov/Committee/Interim_Committee?CommitteeCode=RHMC

 

 

3. Wednesday, June 16th from 2 to 4 pm – Individual Stormwater Permit for LANL Virtual Public Meeting. Presentations by Communities for Clean Water and N3B about Draft Permit Update and Monitoring Plan Overview, Proposal for Site-specific Copper Water Quality Criteria, and Enhanced Controls – 2021 Plans.  The last 30 minutes is devoted to Questions & Answers.  https://ext.em-la.doe.gov/ips

 

Next Steps Following Public Hearing on New Shaft for WIPP Expansion

Last week the New Mexico Environment Department virtual public hearing on the new shaft to expand the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) took place over four days, from Monday through Thursday.  The public comment period ended on Friday.

[A special shout out to all those who submitted public comments.  THANK YOU!!!]

The hearing process continues until at least October with the filing of post-hearing documents by the Parties supporting the expansion, including the Hazardous Waste Bureau of the Environment Department https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/ , the Department of Energy (DOE), and Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, the contractors at WIPP.  https://wipp.energy.gov/

The Parties opposing the expansion are:  Southwest Research and Information Center http://www.sric.org/ ; CCNS http://nuclearactive.org/ ; Nuclear Watch New Mexico https://nukewatch.org/ ; and individuals, including longtime activist Deborah Reade; former Environment Department Regulator for WIPP, Steve Zappe; and a former Environmental Evaluation Group (EEG) scientist, George Anastas.  Dr. James Channell, another former EEG scientist, testified in opposition to the new shaft and WIPP’s physical expansion.  http://www.sric.org/nuclear/eeg.php

CCNS anticipates the Hearing Officer’s report and the Parties’ comments will end up on the Environment Department Secretary’s desk in mid-September.

Between now and then, many filings will be submitted to the Hearing Clerk.  But unlike the documents submitted by the public during the previous comment periods, these may not be posted on the Department’s website, but are kept at the Department’s Office of Public Facilitation, located in Santa Fe.

Here is a possible timeline for documents that will be filed in the post-hearing period, as required by the New Mexico Permit Procedures.  20.1.4 New Mexico Administrative Code.  https://www.srca.nm.gov/parts/title20/20.001.0004.html

During the week of June 7th, the hearing transcript is expected to be filed with Hearing Clerk.

Within 60 days after the transcript is filed, or possibly during the week of August 9th, the Parties will file their findings of fact, conclusions of law, and closing argument with the Hearing Clerk.

Under the regulations, unless the timeframes are extended, within 30 days of those filings, or during the week of September 6th, the Hearing Officer’s report, with findings of fact and conclusions of law, as well as a recommended decision and proposed final order, will be released to the Parties for a 15-day review and comment period.

During the week of September 20th, the Parties may submit comments on Hearing Officer’s report, and ask for oral argument before the Secretary.

The Secretary has 30 days, or until the week of October 18th to issue his final order.  Until that time, additional shaft construction is prohibited.

The Secretary’s decision is considered a final agency action.  His decision starts a 30-day clock in which the Parties disagreeing with the decision have the right to appeal directly to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

 


Did You Know?  We are Podcasting!  

1. Every Friday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2. May 20th to May 30thOnline for free – 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro. “The 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro remembers the still unsolved nuclear accident in Fukushima 10 years ago and the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been in force since January of this year. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it will be the festival’s first online edition with support by the Cinematheque (link is external) of Rio de Janeiro’s prestigious Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio) (link is external).”  For more information:  https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/rio-2021

 

Topics Limited during the Virtual Public Hearing for WIPP Expansion

Legal maneuvering by the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy (DOE), and decisions made by the Hearing Officer, have limited the scope of the virtual public hearing about whether the plan to dig a new $197 million shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be approved.   Discussing the DOE’s plans to double the size of WIPP was prohibited.  Discussing the Temporary Authorization that allowed WIPP to begin digging the shaft in April 2020 was prohibited after the Environment Department presented its witness in support.  No discussion was allowed about the denial to reissuance the Temporary Authorization in October 2020.  During the time the Temporary Authorization was in effect, DOE dug down 116 feet into the underground.  The shaft diameter is 30 feet.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ , scroll down to March 10, 2021 entries.

Despite the limitations, seven individuals and non-governmental organizations persist in opposing the change to the WIPP Permit.  These Parties are the Southwest Research and Information Center http://www.sric.org/ , Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety http://nuclearactive.org/ , Nuclear Watch New Mexico https://nukewatch.org/ , longtime WIPP activist Deborah Reade, former Environment Department WIPP regulator Steve Zappe, and two scientists from the former Environmental Evaluation Group, George Anastas and Dr. James Channell.

These Parties argue that the proposed change should be denied because DOE has not met the legal requirements.  DOE has not disclosed that the new shaft and associated drifts, or hallways, in the underground mine 2,150 feet below the surface in salt beds are needed for WIPP to operate for decades longer than allowed by the Permit.  DOE wants to change the Permit incrementally to avoid disclosing all of its real plans that violate laws and agreements with New Mexico.  DOE argues that the shaft is needed for ventilation.

But WIPP has operated for over 30 years with four shafts that provide the necessary airflow through the waste repository.  https://wipp.energy.gov

Other government agencies, such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) [Nuclear Waste Disposal:  Better Planning Needed to Avoid Potential Disruption at WIPP, GAO-21-48, November 2020, gao-21-48 ] and the National Academies of Science [Review of the Department of Energy’s Plans for Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, 2020, https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25593/review-of-the-department-of-energys-plans-for-disposal-of-surplus-plutonium-in-the-waste-isolation-pilot-plant ], have reviewed DOE’s plans that cannot be discussed at the hearing.  In fact, the GAO created a new diagram of the WIPP underground, based on DOE interviews and review of documents, that shows that up to nine new panels, each containing eight rooms, would be connected to the new shaft.    

Many members of the public have raised the issue that a new shaft is not needed because the Permit states that WIPP will close after 25-years of operations, or in 2024.  A 10-year closure period, where the panels, drifts, and shafts would be filled, would begin after disposal operations end.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/

The public hearing is on Zoom and is currently scheduled to end on Friday, May 21st.  You can make public comments beginning at noon and 6 pm each day.  Please be prompt.  You can register to speak through the Zoom chat function.  You can also watch or listen to the hearing.

Join Zoom Meeting
Phone one-tap: US: +16699006833,,91728945523#,,,,*050223# or +12532158782,,91728945523#,,,,*050223#
Meeting URL: https://zoom.us/j/91728945523?pwd=YitrSUtFYnZkcE5hVGFrb2Z1UDlUdz09
Meeting ID: 917 2894 5523
Passcode: 050223
Join by Telephone
For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.
Dial: US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 929 436 2866 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 917 2894 5523
Passcode: 050223

 

Written comments may be submitted to the Hearing Clerk at Madai.Corral@state.nm.us .  Please add the following language to the subject line:  HWB 21-02 WIPP SHAFT .

ARRANGEMENTS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Any person having a disability and requiring assistance or auxiliary aid to participate in this process should contact Suzette Porter, NMED Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, by phone at (505) 827-2109, or via email at: suzette.porter1@state.nm.us.
Toll-free numbers are available for TDD or TDY users to access the New Mexico Relay Network at 1-800-659-1779 (voice); TTY users: 1-800-659-8331.


LANGUAGE SERVICES
Any person needing language services (e.g., an interpreter at a public meeting or hearing, document translation) should contact Ricardo Maestas at (505) 476-6000 or by e-mail at: ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us.
Please note that Spanish interpretation services will be provided during this proceeding. The Zoom platform provides an option to listen to, ask questions, and provide comments at the public hearing in Spanish. The following are instructions for listening to language interpretation on the Zoom platform:

For Windows/macOS:
1. In your meeting/webinar controls, click Interpretation.
2. Click the language that you would like to hear.
3. (Optional) To hear the interpreted language only, click Mute Original Audio.

For Android/iOS:
1. In your meeting controls, tap the ellipses icon (…).
2. Tap Language Interpretation.
3. Tap the language you would like to hear.
4. (Optional) Tap the toggle to Mute Original Audio.
5. Click Done.

In addition, NMED is providing a call-in conference line for persons without the ability to access Zoom:
Spanish Call-In Conference Line: 800-747-5150
When prompted, enter Access Code: 3453860


Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 

 

1.  Every Friday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

2. Mon. May 17th – Fri. May 21 – Virtual Public Hearing about Proposed Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). For more information in English and Spanish:

*  NM Environment Department at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ (scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry),

*  Stop Forever WIPP Coalition at https://stopforeverwipp.org/ ,  https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and

*  CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

CALL TO ACTION! 

SUBMIT YOUR ORAL, WRITTEN and VISUAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW SHAFT AND DRIFTS AT WIPP!

Please see the five-part Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters about the proposed shaft, the public hearing, how you can participate, and sample comment letters you can use.  Newsletter No. 4 available in Spanish!

https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and http://nuclearactive.org/

Create your own short video about your concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities.  Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ.

 

Four short sample videos are available here:  “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ;  “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ;  and “Why I’m Concerned for OUR Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.

 

3. May 20th to May 30thOnline for free – 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro. “The 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro remembers the still unsolved nuclear accident in Fukushima 10 years ago and the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been in force since January of this year. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it will be the festival’s first online edition with support by the Cinematheque (link is external) of Rio de Janeiro’s prestigious Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio) (link is external).”  For more information:  https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/rio-2021

 

URGENT: Many Ways to Comment during Public Hearing about Proposed WIPP Expansion

Monday, May 17th, begins a five-day virtual public hearing by the Hazardous Waste Bureau about the proposed new shaft and doubling of the size of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a dump for plutonium-contaminated waste from the manufacture of nuclear weapons. You are invited to provide your written comments between now and the end of the hearing to the Hearing Clerk. You can make oral comments on Zoom during the hearing. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ , scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry.The hearing is scheduled to begin each day at noon and end at 9 pm, with a two-hour break between 4 and 6 pm. On Monday, May 17th, oral public comments will be heard between 6 and 7 pm. On subsequent days, public comment will be heard between noon and 1 pm and between 6 and 7 pm.

Each person can make oral comments only once during the five-day hearing and they are limited to five minutes. You can sign-up to give comments using the chat function on Zoom. You will be called on to speak in the order in which people signed up. If too many people sign up for the one-hour session, they will be called first in the next public comment session. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ , scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry and the May 11, 2021 Pre-Hearing Order.

This information is found on p. 3 of the NMED Public Notice at: https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ , scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry and March 18, 2021 Hearing Public Notice .

The Zoom hearing may be joined through the following meeting link:

https://zoom.us/j/91728945523?pwd=YitrSUtFYnZkcE5hVGFrb2Z1UDlUdz09

Meeting ID: 917 2894 5523
Passcode:050223

To join by telephone:

For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.

Dial: US: 1-669-900-6833 or 1-253-215-8782 or 1-346-248-7799 or 1-929-436-2866 or 1-301-715-8592 or 1-312-626-6799

Meeting ID: 917 2894 5523
Passcode: 050223

There is no restriction on the number of written comments you can submit to the Hearing Clerk at Madai.Corral@state.nm.us.

WIPP is the only operating deep geologic repository for radioactive and hazardous waste created by the U.S. nuclear weapons industry in the world. It is located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico and scheduled to close in 2024. But the Department of Energy (DOE) has other plans. https://wipp.energy.gov/

Where can you find more information about the DOE’s expansion plans, key issues, and how to participate in the public hearing? The Stop Forever WIPP Coalition has prepared five newsletters. Newsletters four and five are available in both English and Spanish.

The Coalition has prepared three sample public comments in English and Spanish you can use. The topics cover public participation, land use, other economic considerations, and DOE’s broken promises and misrepresentations. You can use the information to create your own comment letter.
All of this information and more is available at the Stop Forever WIPP website, https://stopforeverwipp.org/ , and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ , along with sample public comments you can use in both English and Spanish. They are also posted on this website in the right column next to this article under the STOP WIPP logo .

Please share this Update with your friends, family and colleagues. It’s time to raise your voice!


Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 

 

1.  Every Friday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2.  Mon. May 17th – Fri. May 21 – Virtual Public Hearing about Proposed Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). For more information in English and Spanish:

*  NM Environment Department at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ (scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry),

*  Stop Forever WIPP Coalition at https://stopforeverwipp.org/ ,  https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and

*  CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

 

CALL TO ACTION! 

SUBMIT YOUR ORAL, WRITTEN and VISUAL PUBLIC COMMENTS  ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW SHAFT AND DRIFTS AT WIPP!

 

 

Please see the five-part Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters about the proposed shaft, the public hearing, how you can participate, and sample comment letters you can use.  Newsletter No. 4 available in Spanish!

https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and http://nuclearactive.org/

Create your own short video about your concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities.  Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ.

Four short sample videos are available here:  “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ;  “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ;  and “Why I’m Concerned for OUR Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.

 

 

3.  May 20th to May 30thOnline for free – 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro. “The 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro remembers the still unsolved nuclear accident in Fukushima 10 years ago and the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been in force since January of this year. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it will be the festival’s first online edition with support by the Cinematheque (link is external) of Rio de Janeiro’s prestigious Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio) (link is external).”  For more information:  https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/rio-2021

 

La nueva modificación del permiso del pozo Parte 5

UN CUENTO DE WIPP:
¿Cuándo un pozo no es un pozo sino una expansión?
(NO, esto no es una broma)
 
El pozo WIPP propuesto abre la puerta
para la expansión WIPP

 

Durante la semana del 17 de mayo, el New México Environment Department o Departamento de Medio Ambiente de Nuevo México (NMED) llevará a cabo una audiencia pública sobre el nuevo pozo propuesto por el Department of Energy o Departamento de Energía (DOE) en WIPP. El DOE espera que este pozo esté terminado en el 2024, que es cuando el DOE le dijo originalmente a NMED que WIPP dejaría de recibir residuos según el permiso estatal de residuos peligrosos existente.

Los nuevos pozos y derivaciones propuestos que se muestran en K y N. El pozo nuevo (K) está etiquetado como pozo de entrada de aire / elevador de materiales.

El pozo es claramente una parte esencial de los planes a largo plazo del DOE para expandir WIPP, actualmente es el único depósito de residuos nucleares en la nación, para operarlo durante décadas.

Mientras el NMED y el DOE están tratando de limitar la audiencia del 17 de mayo a una discusión solo sobre el pozo como un conducto de ventilación, los nuevomexicanos están conectando los puntos y no se dejarán engañar por un proceso del DOE que están intentando impulsar su agenda FOREVER WIPP por partes. Este enfoque carece de un estudio apropiado de la salud y seguridad de las comunidades cercanas a WIPP, de los efectos ambientales y económicos de la modificación, o de una educación o participación pública adecuada.

 

La nueva aplicación de pozo de WIPP presenta una multitud de preocupaciones para los nuevomexicanos.

 Con tantas preocupaciones que abordar,

Elija una de nuestras 3 cartas de comentarios de muestra para enviar a NMED:

 

 

 

 

Copie una letra, mézclelas y combínelas o ponga una de las preocupaciones enumeradas a continuació

Haga clic enel enlace decorreo electrónico aquí para enviar sus comentarios por correo electrónico a NMED

Puede comentar oralmente el 17 de mayo incluso si usted ya ha enviado sus comentarios por correo electrónico.

Encuentre información aquí
sobre cómo comentar oralmente en la audiencia pública.

 

—————————————————————————–

 

Preocupaciones para los nuevomexicanos:

Promesas incumplidas y tergiversaciones

  • El DOE ha tergiversado el propósito del nuevo pozo, como solo un pozo de ventilación, cuando en realidad es la primera parte de una expansión planificada de WIPP. La Oficina de Responsabilidad General lo llama un “pozo de servicios públicos”. El borrador conceptual de WIPP para 2022 lo llama un “elevador de materiales”, así como un pozo de entrada de aire. Un nuevo edificio de filtros proporcionará más aire del necesario y se supone que comenzará a funcionar antes de que se complete el pozo.Las promesas del DOE a la gente de Nuevo México incluyen limitar la cantidad y los tipos de eliminación de residuos y desarrollar otros depósitos para el resto de los residuos. La expansión de WIPP violará todas estas promesas.
  • Los planes de expansión actuales del DOE para WIPP, como se refleja en su solicitud de renovación de permiso, eliminarían cualquier fecha de finalización para WIPP. (Por lo tanto: ¡PARE PARA SIEMPRE WIPP!).
  • La misión de WIPP era aceptar los residuos de armas transuránicas heredadas / de la Guerra Fría, luego descontaminar y cerrar el vertedero, a partir de 2024. El DOE y el gobierno federal siempre supieron que WIPP no podía almacenar todos los residuos de TRU y prometieron construir otros depósitos para los residuos adicionales. WIPP iba a ser un “proyecto piloto” para otros depósitos, pero nunca se han construido otros depósitos.
  • Ningún estado, incluido Nuevo México, está dispuesto a albergar el único depósito. Nosotros no estamos dispuestos a convertirnos en el vertedero nuclear de facto de la nación.

 

QUÉ IMPULSA LA EXPANSIÓN DE WIPP

  • Un factor importante es la eliminación de residuos de la producción ampliada de activadores de bombas de plutonio (o “pozos”) en Los Álamos y Savannah River, Carolina del Sur durante los próximos 60 años.
  •  Otro factor determinante es la eliminación de 48 toneladas métricas de plutonio “excedente” de Pantex y Savannah River y la eliminación de residuos transuránicos de una variedad de sitios del DOE en todo el país. (Los residuos transuránicos son residuos contaminados con elementos radiactivos superiores al [trans-] uranio [-uránico]. La mayoría de los residuos transuránicos en WIPP están contaminados con plutonio y la mayoría también incluye residuos peligrosos).

 

USO DE LA TIERRA y OTRAS CONSIDERACIONES ECONÓMICAS

  • El sureste de Nuevo México tiene industrias agrícolas y ganaderas prósperas (chile, nueces y productos lácteos, por nombrar algunas) que podrían estar en riesgo de cualquier accidente o liberación del sitio o a lo largo de las rutas de envío.
  • El turismo es otra fuente económica importante para Nuevo México. Convertirse en el área de sacrificio nuclear de la nación podría significar la pérdida de decenas de miles de puestos de trabajo en todas las industrias hoteleras relacionadas.
  • El desarrollo de petróleo y gas, ahora uno de los más grandes del mundo, también es una fuente importante de empleo y de ingresos fiscales estatales. Hay más de 500 pozos de petróleo y gas en un radio de 2.5 millas del sitio de WIPP.
  • La expansión de WIPP desalentará a otras industrias más limpias y saludables de crear empleos en el área.

 

RIESGOS DE EXPANSIÓN

 

  • Debido a la mala gestión, WIPP ya ha experimentado un incendio y una explosión subterráneas separada que liberó radiación que contaminó el aire y la tierra fuera del sitio. Los problemas graves de seguridad y gestión en el depósito continúan hasta el día de hoy, lo que aumenta la probabilidad de que se produzca otro accidente.
  • Nuevamente, debido a la mala gestión, WIPP planea liberar aire de escape contaminado para que puedan aumentar la velocidad de las operaciones de residuos.
  • La eliminación subterránea de “agua producida” y la fractura hidráulica de la industria masiva de petróleo y gas cerca de WIPP está aumentando el número y la magnitud de los terremotos en el área. Esto podría afectar la integridad del depósito.
  • La eliminación dilatada de residuos significa la expansión de los envíos de residuos. Estos residuos se transportarían a través de Nuevo México y muchos otros estados para su eliminación en WIPP, expandiendo el transporte de residuos durante décadas y poniendo en riesgo a las comunidades a lo largo de todas las rutas.

 

 

PROCESO PÚBLICO DEFICIENTE

  • El DOE comenzó a construir el pozo (con la aprobación de NMED) antes de la audiencia pública requerida, demostrando así que no le importaban sus promesas o comentarios públicos.
  • La hoja de datos de WIPP y los avisos públicos para la nueva modificación del pozo proporcionan solo un mínimo de información sobre el nuevo pozo, la instalación de WIPP, los residuos, la contaminación subterránea y la hidrología y geología cerca del sitio.
  • Los efectos a largo plazo en las comunidades cercanas al sitio y a lo largo de las rutas de transporte no se han estudiado adecuadamente. El DOE no ha analizado las posibles exposiciones de WIPP desde la década de 1990. Sin estudios de efectos actualizados, los impactos en el público en general son en su mayoría desconocidos, y los posibles impactos dispares en las comunidades de color son completamente desconocidos. Por lo tanto, NMED no tiene los datos para ser verdaderamente no discriminatorio y protector de la salud humana y el medio ambiente.
  • NMED prometió traducir todos los documentos “vitales” o importantes para los hispanohablantes que no dominan el inglés para que tengan acceso a la misma información que está fácilmente disponible para los angloparlantes. Sin embargo, esto no se ha hecho.
  • Solo se han traducido los avisos públicos y la hoja informativa. Incluso el borrador del permiso en sí no se ha definido como “vital”, ni se ha resumido y traducido. La hoja de datos no resume de ninguna manera el borrador del permiso. Esto deja a los nuevomexicanos que no dominan el inglés sin poder informarse completamente sobre esta modificación del permiso y sin poder participar de manera equitativa y significativa en el proceso público.

 

—————————————————————————–
Las referencias y los enlaces se encuentran al final de este correo electrónico.
—————————————————————————–

Cómo comentar

Envíe sus comentarios por correo electrónico a:
Madai.Corral@state.nm.us
En la línea de asunto incluya: HWB 21-02 WIPP Shaft
Envíe sus comentarios por correo a:
Hearing Clerk, NMED, Room S-2100

PO Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM 87502-5469.

En su título, incluya: HWB 21-02 WIPP Shaft
En la audiencia pública, proporcione comentarios escritos u orales en su idioma preferido. Si va a comentar en un idioma que no sea inglés o español, haga arreglos para la interpretación, idealmente, con 10 o más días de anticipación comunicándose con:
Ricardo Maestas
505-476-6000
—————————————————————————–

Por favor Comparta este boletín informativo “Newsletter”

confamilia, amigos y colegas

y

Por favor done a la Coalición Detenga para siempre WIPP

“Stop FOREVER WIPP”

a través de nuestra página de GoFundMe.

—————————————————————————–

Mirando hacia abajo en el nuevo pozo parcialmente excavado (imagen: DOE)

Referencias & Enlaces

Cómo comentar en la audiencia por Zoom opr teléfono
El Aviso público de audiencia en inglés y español (The Hearing Public Notice) está en:  
https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/05/2021-03-18-HWB-Shaft-Hearing-Public-Notice-Final-Eng-Span.pdf
El Plan de Participación Pública en inglés (The Public Involvement Plan — PIP) está en:
https://hwbdocuments.env.nm.gov/Waste%20Isolation%20Pilot%20Plant/200611.pdf
El Acuerdo de Resolución Informal en inglés (The Informal Resolution Agreement) está en:
Un análisis de los problemas en el PIP, el Aviso público y la Hoja de datos actualizada  (en inglés)  está en:
La página web de permisos WIPP (The WIPP Permit Webpage) está en:
—————————————————————————–

Para más información
 

Detener para siempre WIPP 
  (Stop Forever WIPP)
Centro de Investigación e Información del Suroeste
  (Southwest Research and Information Center — SRIC)

http://www.sric.org/

Ciudadanos preocupados por la seguridad nuclear 
  (Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety — CCNS)
Vigilancia nuclear Nuevo México 

(Nuclear Watch New Mexico)

Alianza suroeste

(Southwest Alliance)
  https://www.swalliance.org/

 

US Dept of Energy targets NM WIPP site as dump for 50 TONS of “excess” plutonium; piecemeal hearings disguise DOE’s true WIPP expansion intent, start May 17. Public input crucial!

New Mexico Nuclear Nightmare SPECIAL:  DOE wants Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
to get a new “ventilation” shaft – but activists point to long range plans by DOE

to expand the site to take 50+ TONS of plutonium – enough to make over 15,000 bombs
Hearings start May 17; details on how to join below.

 

This Week’s Featured Interviews on Nuclear Hotseat:

New Mexico Nuclear Nightmares – this one dealing with hearings that hide the planned expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to hold more than 50 TONS of “excess” plutonium – the most deadly radioactive substance on earth.  And all that plutonium will have to be trucked and trained across the United States, meaning communities at distance from WIPP will still be at risk.

Two interviews with genuine experts on what we face – and what we can do about it.   

  • Don Hancock is the director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program and administrator at Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, where he has worked since 1975.  He is the #1 watchdog on WIPP.
  • Joni Arends is co-founder and executive director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. She and her group have been monitoring and fighting against WIPP for more than 20 years. Here, she gives more of a citizen-activist perspective and provides concrete steps that any of us can take to help support the fight against WIPP’s expansion.

LINKS and CONTACT INFORMATION mentioned during the interviews:

  • Tell the Hearing Officer through Hearing Clerk to deny the permit change! Madai.Corral@state.nm.us  Talking points in this document:

Public Comments:

  • WRITTEN OR VIDEO PUBLIC COMMENTS – Email to: Madai.Corral@state.nm.us
    Please enter “HWB21-02 WIPP SHAFT” in the email subject heading.

VIRTUAL PUBLIC HEARING

The virtual public hearing will begin Monday, May 17, 2021 at 12:00 PM MDT. The Hearing will run during the following hours, on this day and on subsequent days, until complete, unless otherwise ordered by the Hearing Officer: 12:00 – 4:00 PM and 6:00 – 9:00 PM MDT DAILY.

Join Virtual Public Hearing on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91728945523?pwd=YitrSUtFYnZkcE5hVGFrb2Z1UDlUdz09

  • Meeting ID: 917 2894 5523
  • Passcode: 050223

According to DOE:  “The public hearing will provide interested persons a reasonable opportunity to present data, views, and arguments, as well as to examine witnesses. The hearing will also afford an opportunity for all persons to present comments. The public hearing will be conducted remotely using an internet video conferencing platform (Zoom) and telephone.”

 

No DOE Employee Testifying at Permit Hearing about Proposed WIPP Expansion

No Department of Energy (DOE) employee will testify about the purpose and need for the construction of a fifth shaft into the underground mine at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) during the May 17th public hearing.  This is important because over the decades DOE has signed multiple agreements that created a “social contract” with the People of New Mexico about WIPP operations.  These include agreements that WIPP would dispose of transuranic, or TRU, plutonium-contaminated waste from nuclear weapons manufacturing, in the deep geological repository over a 25-year disposal period, and then close down.  WIPP opened on March 25, 1999.  The current permit requires closure to begin in 2024.  Pleas see “Statement of Intent to Present Technical Testimony on Behalf of Southwest Research and Information Center,” dated May 3, 2021, Docket No. HWB 21-02.  Technical Testimony Intent DH Complete

But DOE and its contractor, Nuclear Waste Partners, LLC (NWP), have other plans.  Essential to those plans is digging a new $197 million shaft to the west of the existing disposal area and mining tunnels to connect the shaft to that area.  https://wipp.energy.gov/ and https://www.nwp-wipp.com/

DOE and NWP claim that the new shaft is needed to improve ventilation, but they misrepresent the truth.  Historically, the required airflow was provided by the four existing shafts.  New ventilation systems, not requiring the new shaft, were permitted in 2018 to increase ventilation capacity lost by the February 2014 fire and radiation release.

In truth, DOE has released a number of new reports that require WIPP’s operation for at least 60 more years, but about which they refuse to provide a witness during the upcoming hearing.  DOE, Carlsbad Field Office and Nuclear Waste Partnership, 2021, “Legislative Update Waste Isolation Pilot Plant,” February 9, 2021. https://wipp.energy.gov/Library/documents/2021/Final_2021_Legislative_Update_Presentation.   DOE, “Supplement Analysis for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Site-Wide Operations” (for excavation of two underground replacement panels), DOE/EIS-0026-SA, March 2021, effective April 8, 2021.  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/articles/doeeis-0026-sa-12-supplement-analysis-waste-isolation-pilot-plant-site-wide

Such expansion, in violation of the “social contract,” requires additional repositories and endangers public health and the environment in New Mexico and along transportation routes through many other states.

Ninety-seven percent of the hundreds of people who have provided public comments oppose expansion.

The proposed shaft and associated drifts are the subject of a five-day virtual New Mexico Environment Department public hearing, beginning on Monday, May 17th at noon.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/, scroll down to March 10, 2021 post below “WIPP News 2021.”  DOE, NWP and the State Hazardous Waste Bureau support the new shaft and drifts.  However, the public should note that the Bureau added that it reserves “the right to modify its position [before the closing of the public hearing] based on any comment or testimony presented at the hearing or based on any written comments submitted.”

Public participation is thus invited.  People can make oral comments during the virtual hearing or submit written comments before or during the hearing. 

Some people are creating short videos about their concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities.  Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ

Four short sample videos are available here:  “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ;  “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ;  and “Why I’m Concerned for Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.

Five Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters and sample public comments you can use are available at CCNS’s website at http://nuclearactive.org/, and https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ .  Please share this Update with family, friends, and colleagues.


Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 

 

1.  Every Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2.  Mon. May 17th – Fri. May 21 – Virtual Public Hearing about Proposed Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). For more information:  NM Environment Department at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ (scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry); Stop Forever WIPP Coalition at  https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/

CALL TO ACTION! 

SUBMIT YOUR ORAL AND WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENTS

ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW SHAFT AND DRIFTS AT WIPP!

 

Please see the five-part Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters about the proposed shaft, the public hearing, how you can participate, and sample comment letters you can use.  Newsletter No. 4 available in Spanish!

https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and http://nuclearactive.org/

Create your own short video about your concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities.  Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ.

Four short sample videos are available here:  “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ;  “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ;  and “Why I’m Concerned for OUR Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.

 

This is What Happens When DOE Gets in a Hurry

As has been clearly demonstrated by the Department of Energy (DOE) in recent years, when it gets in a hurry to ship plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), bad things happen. Both DOE sites are once again announcing efforts to get waste off the Hill at LANL for disposal at WIPP, but, in reality, shipments have been slowed by those efforts.

The latest event occurred in early March when LANL informed WIPP that it shipped two waste containers that held pyrophoric materials for disposal in the deep geologic salt mine.  Pyrophoric materials are those that ignite spontaneously when exposed to air, such as plutonium.  Upon notification of the potentially non-compliant explosive drums disposed in the underground, WIPP implemented the Contingency Plan, as provided for in the New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit.  Below, please read the story at DNFSB Los Alamos Activities Reports for Week Ending March 5, 2021, March 12, 2021, March 19, 2021, March 26, 2021, and April 2, 2021.  See also DNFSB Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Report for February 2021 (See “Emergency Preparedness” paragraph:  “[Nuclear Waste Partnership] NWP identified opportunities to improve communication between the WIPP Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center.  In addition, NWP identified opportunities to improve the emergency response at the Central Monitoring Room.  The next annual emergency exercise is scheduled for October 2021.” and March 2021. 

Los Alamos Week Ending March 5 2021-1

Los Alamos Week Ending March 12 2021-1

Los Alamos Week Ending March 19 2021

Los Alamos Week Ending March 26 2021

Los Alamos Week Ending April 2 2021

WIPP Monthly Ending February 2021

WIPP Monthly Ending March 2021

The permit requires the hazardous waste emergency coordinator to determine whether there is a potential for a fire, explosion, or release of hazardous materials and to act immediately.  As a precautionary measure, WIPP implemented the Contingency Plan.  See Part 2, Section 2.12 “Contingency Plan” and Attachment D “RCRA Contingency Plan” at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/

Invoking the plan involves identifying the drums were disposed of in Panel 7 and they were shipped from LANL to WIPP between July and September 2020.

Because WIPP was in a two-month maintenance outage, no waste was being disposed.  Nevertheless, workers were evacuated from the underground.

The Contingency Plan remained in place for two weeks as LANL and its contractor, Triad National Security, LLC, investigated the drum contents.  Triad determined the drums were compliant with the hazardous waste permit requirements.  DOE WIPP to NMED RCRA Contingency Plan 3-19-21

Concerns about these drums had began when, on Friday, February 26, 2021, LANL Plutonium Facility workers observed sparks in a drum while packaging waste air filters used in the gloveboxes where welding takes place.  That drum contained waste from the same source as the two drums disposed of at WIPP.

The Resident Inspectors of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board at LANL reported that Triad believed that “metallic welding condensates on the filters underwent a pyrophoric reaction when a different waste item was added to the drum and breached a bagged filter allowing the influx of oxygen.”

Unlike WIPP, Triad did not invoke the Contingency Plan as required by its hazardous waste permit.  HWB-LANL-Attachment-D_November-2020

These two incidents are just the latest in a number of similar events, including the Valentine’s Day 2014 explosion of one or more LANL drums in the WIPP underground, in which 22 workers and over 8,000 linear feet of the underground mine were contaminated. The 2014 explosion closed WIPP and stopped waste shipments for three years.  http://nuclearactive.org/safety-board-has-continuing-concerns-about-safety-at-wipp/


 

Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 

 

1. Every Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.  JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

2. TONIGHT: Thursday, April 29th at 5:30 – LANL Director, and President of Triad National Security, LLC, Thom Mason will host a community meeting.  You can ask questions about the proposed bridge across the Rio Grande, a proposed third powerline across the Rio Grande, expanded plutonium pit production, recent accidents in the Plutonium Facility, LANL’s budget, why LANL is invading Santa Fe with nearly 600 administrative workers, water use, protection of the Rio Grande, lack of cleanup, etc., etc., etc.  Online, visit https://www.lanl.gov/community/community-meeting.shtml for the Webex meeting link, password, and information about how to submit questions.

 

 

3. Th. May 6th at 11 am MDT, DOE Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Water Subcommittee about the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the DOE. Watch it at https://appropriations.house.gov/subcommittees/energy-and-water-development-and-related-agencies-117th-congress/congress_hearing      

  

 

4. Mon. May 17th – Fri. May 21 – Virtual Public Hearing about Proposed Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). For more information:  NM Environment Department at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ (scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry); Stop Forever WIPP Coalition at  https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/ See the five-part Stop Forever WIPP Coalition series about the proposed shaft, the public hearing, how you can participate, and sample comment letters you can use.  Newletter No. 4 available in Spanish!

 

 

The New Shaft Permit Modification – Part 5 – When is a Shaft Not a Shaft but an Expansion?

The New Shaft Permit Modification

Part 5

A WIPP TALE:

When is a Shaft Not a Shaft but an Expansion?

(NO this is not a joke)

Proposed WIPP Shaft Opens the Door

for WIPP Expansion

 

During the week of May 17th the NM Environment Department (NMED) will hold a public hearing on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed new Shaft at WIPP. DOE expects that this shaft will be finished in 2024, which is when DOE originally told NMED that WIPP would stop receiving waste under the existing state hazardous waste permit.

WIPP 2022 Concept showing the proposed new shaft and drifts. The proposed new shafts and drifts shown at K and N. The New Shaft (K) is labeled Material Hoist/Air Intake Shaft

 

The shaft is clearly an essential part of DOE’s long range plans, to expand WIPP—currently the only nuclear waste repository in the nation—and to operate it for decades.

While NMED and DOE are trying to limit the May 17th hearing to discussion only about the shaft as a ventilation shaft, New Mexicans are connecting the dots and won’t be fooled by a DOE process that is attempting to push their FOREVER WIPP agenda through piecemeal. This approach lacks appropriate study of the health and safety for communities near WIPP, environmental and economic effects from the modification, or adequate public education or involvement.

 

WIPP’s New Shaft Application Presents a Multitude Of Concerns for New Mexicans.

With so many concerns to be addressed,

Choose one of our 3 sample comment letters to send to NMED:

 

Broken Promises and Misrepresentations

Land Use and other Economic Considerations

Public Participation

 

Copy one letter, mix & match them or put one together yourself from the bulleted concerns below.

Click the email link  here to email your comments to NMED.

You may comment orally on May 17th even if you have already emailed your comments.

Find information here on how to comment orally at the public hearing.

 


 

 

Concerns for New Mexicans:

 

BROKEN PROMISES and MISREPRESENTATIONS

 

 
  • DOE has misrepresented the purpose of the New Shaft, as only a ventilation shaft, when in reality it is the first part of a planned expansion of WIPP. The General Accountability Office calls it a “utility shaft.”  WIPP’s 2022 conceptual draft calls it a “materials hoist” as well as an air intake shaft. A new filter building will provide more air than needed and is supposed to begin operations before the shaft is even completed.
  • DOE’s promises to the people of New Mexico include limiting the amount and types of waste disposal, and developing other repositories for the rest of the waste. The WIPP expansion will violate all these promises.
  • DOE’s current expansion plans for WIPP, as reflected in their permit renewal application, would eliminate any end date for WIPP. (Hence: STOP FOREVER WIPP!)
  • WIPP’s mission was to accept legacy/Cold War transuranic weapons waste, then decontaminate and close the dump, starting in 2024. DOE and the federal government always knew WIPP could not hold all the TRU waste and promised to build other repositories for the additional waste. WIPP was to be a “pilot project” for other repositories, but no other repositories have ever been built.
  • No State, including New Mexico, is willing to host the only repository. We are unwilling to become the nation’s de facto nuclear dumping ground.

 

WHAT’S DRIVING THE WIPP EXPANSION

 

  • One major driver is waste disposal from expanded production of plutonium bomb triggers (or “pits”) at Los Alamos and Savannah River, South Carolina over the next 60 years. These triggers are designed for new nuclear weapons — not to keep the current weapons stockpile reliable.
  • Another driver is disposal of 48 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium from Pantex and Savannah River and disposal of transuranic waste from a variety of DOE sites across the country. (Transuranic waste is waste contaminated with radioactive elements greater than [trans-] uranium [-uranic]. Most transuranic waste at WIPP is contaminated with plutonium and most also includes hazardous waste.)

 

LAND USE and OTHER ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS

 
  • Southeastern New Mexico has thriving agricultural and ranching industries (chile, pecans, and dairy to name a few) that could be at risk from any accident or release from the site or along the shipping routes.
  • Tourism is another major economic source for New Mexico. Becoming the nation’s nuclear sacrifice area could mean the loss of  tens of thousands of jobs in all the related hospitality industries.
  • Oil and Gas development — now one of the largest in the world — is also a major source of employment and state tax revenues. There are more than 500 oil and gas wells within 2.5 miles of the WIPP site.
  • Expanding WIPP will discourage other cleaner and healthier industries from creating jobs in the area.
  • Do we really want to transition southeastern New Mexico from the historical economies of agriculture, resource extraction and tourism to becoming the nation’s nuclear and hazardous garbage dump?

 

EXPANSION RISKS

 
  • Because of mismanagement, WIPP has already experienced an underground fire and a separate underground explosion that released radiation contaminating air and land offsite. Serious safety and management issues at the repository continue to this day, making another accident more likely.
  • Again, because of mismanagement, WIPP is planning on releasing contaminated exhaust air so they can increase the speed of waste operations.
  • Underground disposal of “produced water” and fracking from the massive oil and gas industry near WIPP is increasing the number and magnitude of earthquakes in the area. This could impact the integrity of the repository.
  • Expanded waste disposal means expanded waste shipments. This waste would be transported through New Mexico and many other states for disposal at WIPP, expanding waste transportation for decades and putting communities all along the routes at risk.

 

DEFICIENT PUBLIC PROCESS

  • DOE started constructing the shaft (with NMED’s approval) before the required public hearing, thereby showing that it did not care about its promises or public comment.
  • The WIPP Fact Sheet and Public Notices for the new shaft modification provide only a minimum of information about the new shaft, the WIPP facility, the waste, the contamination underground, and the hydrology & geology near the site.
  • The long term effects on communities near the site and along transportation routes have not been adequately studied. DOE hasn’t looked at potential exposures from WIPP since the 1990s. With no updated effects studies, impacts on the general public are mostly unknown, and possible disparate impacts on communities of color are completely unknown. Thus, NMED doesn’t have the data to be truly non-discriminatory and protective of human health and the environment.
  • NMED promised to translate all “vital” or important documents for Spanish speakers who are not fluent in English so they would have access to the same information that is easily available to English speakers. However, this has not been done.
  • Only public notices and the Fact Sheet have been translated. Even the draft permit itself has not been defined as “vital,” nor has it been summarized and translated. The Fact Sheet in no way summarizes the draft permit. This leaves those New Mexicans who aren’t fluent in English unable to inform themselves fully about this permit modification and unable to participate equally and meaningfully in the public process.

 

—————————————————————————–

References and links are at the end of this email

—————————————————————————–

 

How to Comment
Email written comments to:
Madai.Corral@state.nm.us
In the subject line include: HWB 21-02 WIPP Shaft
Mail written comments to:
Hearing Clerk, NMED, Room S-2100
PO Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM 87502-5469.
In your heading, include: HWB 21-02 WIPP Shaft
 
At the public hearing provide written or oral comments in your preferred language. If you will be commenting in a language other than English or Spanish, arrange for interpretation, ideally, 10 or more days ahead by contacting:
Ricardo Maestas
505-476-6000

 


 

Please share this newsletter with family, friends and colleagues

and
 

Please donate to the Stop FOREVER WIPP Coalition

through our GoFundMe Page.

 

 


 

Looking down into the partially excavated New Shaft (image: DOE)

 

References  & Links

How to comment at the hearing by Zoom or by phone
The Updated Fact Sheet
The Public Involvement Plan (PIP)
The Informal Resolution Agreement
Analysis of the PIP, Public Notice and Updated Fact Sheet

 

For More Information

Stop Forever WIPP 
Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC)
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS)
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Southwest Alliance