Mission

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Our mission is to protect all living beings and the environment from the effects of radioactive and other hazardous materials now and in the future.

P.O. Box 31147
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87594

Telephone: (505) 986-1973
Fax: (505) 986-0997
Email: ccns@nuclearactive.org

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Current Activities

31st Annual Alliance for Nuclear Accountability DC Days

Leaders and activists from across the country will come together for the 31st annual Alliance for Nuclear Accountability DC Days from May 19th through the 22nd.  With nearly 100 pre-arranged meetings, they will meet with elected congresspeople, as well as officials in the administration, such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration.  This year, it is especially important for Congress and the administration to hear from those who seek a nuclear-free future that safeguards communities, public health and the environment.  http://www.ananuclear.org/   CLEANUP AND WASTE FACT SHEET  and WEAPONS AND POLICY FACT SHEET

New Mexico will be well represented by staff from Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico who will effectively voice their concerns about nuclear weapons, power, and waste.  Rose Gardner, of the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, and two of her daughters will also attend.  http://www.sric.org/, https://nukewatch.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community-Organization/Alliance-for-Environmental-Strategies-1959311804080514/

On Tuesday evening, May 21st, the Alliance will host its annual reception in the Rayburn House Office Building.  It will honor Ms. Gardner with the Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud “Unsung Hero” Award for her outstanding work challenging the two proposed consolidated interim storage facilities for high-level radioactive waste.  http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/356082/24557781/1395166421747/Thunderbird_TMI_March2014.pdf?token=Kn4f5a4a50Jfzz2h5KKG0VJWHUM%3D  The facilities are:  the proposed Holtec International site located half way between Hobbs and Carlsbad; and the existing Waste Control Specialists, now called Interim Storage Partners, located on the New Mexico – Texas border, east of Eunice, New Mexico.

ANA will honor Congressman Adam Smith, representing Washington State’s Ninth District.  Congressman Smith is the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees DOE.   https://armedservices.house.gov/  He has made bold statements opposing expanded nuclear weapons production.

Another honoree is Patricia Mellen, a lawyer involved with the current movement to stop public access to the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, a former nuclear weapons manufacturing facility, located near Denver.  She is working to release the sealed grand jury’s evidence that suggests Rocky Flats was not properly cleaned up.  http://www.patmellenlaw.com/  and https://static1.squarespace.com/static/52311edfe4b0830625de8366/t/5cdc7174b11c5700015c4d1b/1557950836407/ANA+reception+invite+5+21+2019.pdf

It is the perfect time for ANA to be in Washington, DC, because Congress is developing the Fiscal Year 2020 DOE funding bills.  This week the House subcommittee passed the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.  The bill does not fund Yucca Mountain, but does fund interim storage activities for high-level radioactive waste.  https://appropriations.house.gov/news/press-releases/appropriations-subcommittee-approves-fiscal-year-2020-energy-and-water

The appropriations bill must be voted out of the House before moving to the Senate.

If you are unable to attend DC Days, you can participate by contacting your Senators.  Please tell them to strongly oppose funding for consolidated storage in the Energy and Water appropriations bill.  Please urge them to oppose Senate Bill 1234 and any similar bills that would authorize consolidated storage.  And finally, tell your congresspeople that New Mexicans strongly oppose the Holtec proposal.


1.  On Wednesday evening, the New Mexico Environment Department held a public hearing in Hobbs, NM about the Lea County Landfill for a renewal of the 20-year permit and proposed expansion to bring 2,500 tons of asbestos waste annually among other wastes.  The wastes could be coming from NM, but also from other states.  It is not clear whether the expansion could include foreign wastes.  They are proposing vertical expansions of 75 feet (which could be 7.5 stories at 10 feet/story or 5 stories at 15 feet/story).  To view the video of the hearing, go to save lea county

2.  On May 29th and May 30th, the Cold War Patriots are holding two socials for LANL, Sandia, and Uranium Workers.

On Wednesday, May 29th – the social will be held at St. John’s Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe from 11 am to 1 pm.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/events/lanl-sandia-uranium-workers-santa-fe-nm/

On Thursday, May 30th – the social will be held at the Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque from 11 am to 1 pm.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/events/albquerquenmsocial/

Cold War Patriots is a community resource and advocacy organization helping nuclear weapons and uranium workers and their families get the recognition, compensation and health care they have earned.

 

NRC Board Denies Evidentiary Hearing on Holtec Dump

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) board denied an evidentiary hearing to all of the public interest and industry groups that oppose the Holtec International proposal to open the world’s largest “interim” nuclear waste dump in southeast New Mexico for one of the most deadly materials on Earth – high-level radioactive waste.  The 142-page decision is available at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1912/ML19127A026.pdf 

In January, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board held a two-day hearing in Albuquerque to hear arguments from the twelve parties opposing Holtec’s application.  This week’s decision was in response to that hearing.  http://nuclearactive.org/nrc-holds-holtec-hearing-in-albuquerque-on-january-23rd/, http://nuclearactive.org/new-holtec-information-from-albuquerque-hearing-last-week/ and watch the hearing at https://saveleacounty.net/

The companies that operate nuclear power plants, located mostly east of the Mississippi River, own the waste.  The Board did acknowledge the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act does not allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to take title to the waste or pay for transportation or storage until there is a permanent dump.

Although the Holtec application states that DOE or nuclear utilities could pay for the storage and transportation, the Board ruled against the legal challenges because “…the Board assumes Holtec will honor its commitment not to contract unlawfully with DOE to store any other spent nuclear fuel.  Likewise, we assume DOE would not be complicit in any such unlawful contracts.”

One of the parties opposing the application, Beyond Nuclear, has already asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to rule the proposal is illegal.  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/centralized-storage/2019/5/7/beyond-nuclear-vows-to-fight-on-against-illegal-high-level-r.html

Other parties plan to appeal the Board’s denial to the four-member Commission, and the groups could then appeal to the federal courts.  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/centralized-storage/2019/5/7/dont-waste-mi-et-al-press-release-public-interest-groups-den.html and https://www.riograndesierraclub.org/nrc-rejects-all-objections/

Among the other objections the board ruled against hearing are problems with the Holtec waste canisters.  Donna Gilmore, with San Onofre Safety, is watchdogging the Holtec canisters stored in a similar configuration as those planned for Holtec’s New Mexico site.  Gilmore said, “The NRC told the [Board] they have no problem with Holtec returning leaking canisters back to sender, yet neither the proposed New Mexico Holtec site nor the San Onofre site have a plan to deal with leaking canisters, let alone prevent radioactive leaks or hydrogen gas explosions.  We cannot trust the NRC to protect our safety.  It will be up to each state to stop this madness.”  https://sanonofresafety.org/

Former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico has said that opening a consolidated interim storage facility without an operating permanent repository risks so called “temporary” becoming de facto permanent.  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000468

Although Congress has never funded interim storage, it is again considering changing the law and providing such funding.  Please call your Representative and Senators now and tell them that New Mexicans oppose the Holtec proposal and that Congress should not change the law or provide any funding for interim storage in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.  https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm and https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative


Mother’s Day is Sunday.  If you love your Mother Earth, please support the work of CCNS.  Your tax-deductible contribution will make a difference.  Join us with a monthly contribution of $5, $10, or more a month.  Thank you!

1.  Support clean water!  On Tuesday, May 14th, the NM Water Quality Control Commission will reconsider its decision to deny the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) Motion to Vacate the Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132 (for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility).  The hearing begins at 9 am in Room 307 of the State Capitol in Santa Fe.  It is agenda Item No. 8 and may begin after 10 am.  https://www.env.nm.gov/water-quality-control-commission/wqcc/ and  http://nuclearactive.org/ccw-asks-wqcc-to-remand-lanl-permit-to-nmed-secretary/

Please note:  NMED Hearing Officer, Felicia Orth, will provide a one-hour orientation session for the new members of the Water Quality Control Commission.

Please come and support CCW, of which CCNS is a founding member, in its quest for justice.

2.  On May 29th, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will conduct an emergency preparedness exercise, which will last approximately five to six hours, beginning at 9 am.  https://www.ladailypost.com/content/be-alert-emergency-preparedness-exercise-lab-may-29

3.  On June 26th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting and public hearing about the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for Kirtland Air Force Base.  It will be held at the NM Veterans Memorial, 1100 Louisiana Blvd. SE, in Albuquerque.  The public meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 pm.  The public hearing will begin at 7 pm.  Details are available at:  https://www.epa.gov/nm/united-states-air-force-draft-npdes-permit-no-nm0031216-0 

4.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to hold a July 11th, and if necessary July 12th, pre-hearing conference to hear oral argument on standing and contention admissibility in the Interim Storage Partners, LLC (WCS Consolidated Interim Storage Facility) in Lubbock, Texas.  Stay tuned for additional information.

 

 

LANL Short Cut to Build New Facility Without Public Input

Improper regulation of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for a proposed new radioactive liquid waste treatment facility for contaminated plutonium waters from nuclear weapons operations leaves the public out of the process.  Because the new facility treats, stores and disposes of hazardous waste, it must be regulated by the New Mexico Environment Department.  To do so, LANL would have to submit a permit modification request to the Environment Department, which requires enhanced regulation.  It would also allow for public review and comment, as well as the opportunity to request a public hearing.  LANL has resisted hazardous waste regulation at every turn.           

The current facility has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  https://www.env.nm.gov/swqb/NPDES/Permits/NM0028355-LANL.pdf, p. 7 of Part I.  In order to be covered by an EPA discharge permit, a discharge of a pollutant into the environment must occur.  Since November 2010, no discharge has flowed through Outfall 051 – the outfall hooked up to the current facility.

CCNS challenged the outfall remaining on the permit through a number of appeals.  On March 19, 2019, our lawyers, Jon Block of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Lindsay A. Lovejoy, argued for the removal before the Court of Appeals in the Tenth Circuit.  We are awaiting a decision.  http://nuclearactive.org/ccns-lawyers-take-lanls-clean-water-act-exemption-to-the-10th-circuit-court-of-appeals/

The proposed $145 million facility would be located between the plutonium facility and the current radioactive liquid waste treatment facility and would process about 7,500 gallons of wastewater annually.  Like the current facility, it would be a “zero discharge” facility, which means that the treated wastewaters would be evaporated into the air.  Even so, LANL would most likely hook up the new facility to Outfall 051 in order to avoid hazardous waste regulation.

Like the current facility, the sludge would be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

On April 15, 2019, LANL released a request for architect and engineering services for the proposed 3,750 square foot project.  Some of the requested services would require reviewing the design work done by the previous contractor, the Los Alamos National Security, LLC.  https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=f8b3641af4e681489fb14adbc05a7192&tab=core&_cview=0

Nevertheless, the new report by the Department of Energy, Office of Enterprise Assessments, found many long-term, unresolved engineering problems.  The “significant weaknesses” in managing resolution of the problems “can lead to the degradation of nuclear safety.”  The report cited “institutional behaviors” that have allowed unresolved issues to persist.  https://www.energy.gov/ea/downloads/assessment-management-nuclear-safety-issues-los-alamos-national-laboratory-april-2019

Joni Arends, of CCNS, stated, “The Environment Department must protect human health and the environment through hazardous waste regulation of the old and new facilities.  The revelations in the new DOE Assessment highlight our concerns for hazardous waste regulation of LANL operations.”

 


Did you know that as a special project, CCNS posted individual clips from the There is No Refuge from Nuclear War or Nuclear Waste:  Rocky Flats in Context (September 15, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado) on our website, YouTube, and Facebook?  Clips include:

1.    Elizabeth Panzer, a Mother and Concerned Citizen living near Rocky Flats, talks about denial of the enormity of the issues;

2.    Michael Ketterer, PhD, wants to sample areas contaminated with plutonium; and the need for perpetual monitoring; and

3.    Rick Wayman, of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, explains how he got involved and suggestions for how to get youth involved.  He also speaks about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Please support our special projects!  We want to do more to keep you informed!

CCNS believes that these clips are important to share with others to explain what happened at Rocky Flats and how DOE is using the same playbook for LANL cleanup.

 

What WIPP Does Not Say about Past 20 Years & the Future

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the radioactive and hazardous waste dump on March 26, 1999 with outdoor events, including ice cream and a bounce house in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOEOEM/bulletins/23f1c3b  Unfortunately, the celebrations minimize past and present health and safety problems and do not disclose the plans of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its for-profit contractors to expand WIPP.  http://nuclearactive.org/wipp-worker-exposures-being-investigated/

Expansion plans include much more waste, different forms of waste, a new multi-use shaft to facilitate new waste-disposal rooms to expand the underground footprint, and surface storage.  None of that waste was included in the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act that limits the types and amounts of waste allowed.  The proposed additional waste and facilities are not included in the existing WIPP Permit issued by the New Mexico Environment Department.  Please join the resistance to oppose DOE’s expansion plans.

DOE wants five new types of waste: “surplus” plutonium from nuclear weapons; high-level waste from the Hanford and Savannah River sites; commercial “Greater Than Class C” radioactive waste; commercial waste from West Valley, New York; and the storage of elemental mercury.

The existing ten-year New Mexico hazardous waste permit expires in December 2020.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/  The permit renewal application is anticipated to include the addition of a long-term, above-ground storage facility; additional waste disposal areas and drifts; and changing the 2024 date to end waste disposal operations.

DOE may incorporate these changes into their permit application, or to separately submit modifications to the permit.  In recent years, DOE has submitted various modifications, including one to change how the waste volume is calculated to allow 30 percent more waste than the legal limit.  That modification request is now before the New Mexico Court of Appeals.  http://nuclearactive.org/ccns-sues-to-stop-wipp-expansion/

Before submitting the permit renewal application, DOE is required to hold public meetings.  For the previous renewal, the pre-application meetings were held in February 2009, and final permit approval was not until November 2010. Based upon that history, pre-application meetings should have already been held, but they have not even been announced.  Activists are concerned that DOE is delaying the public meetings to make the renewal process more rushed, which would disadvantage the public and the Environment Department, which have much fewer resources than DOE and its contractors.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “DOE should immediately announce the pre-application meeting dates and fully disclose its plans for expansion. Through public comments and hearings, people can tell the Environment Department what limits on more waste and additional facilities should be included in the permit.”  http://www.sric.org/


  1. The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities meets Friday, April 26th from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at the City of Espanola City Hall.  http://regionalcoalition.org/ The agenda at https://regionalcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/April-23-Agenda.-v.1.pdf
  2.  Celebrate the new season in the Espanola Healing Foods Oasis and Honor our Earth Mother on Saturday, April 27th from 9 to 1 pm. More info at: https://conta.cc/2XzlIwU

There will be:

– opening blessings and welcome

– honoring community partners and sponsors

– garden planting and maintenance

– introducing the Española Seed Library Project!

– sharing food

Please bring:  Sun hat, sturdy shoes for working on the earth, water bottle, sack lunch and an open heart!

We’ll provide:  water, snacks, gardening tools

This is a free event… everyone is welcome!

RSVP on the Facebook event page

 

Preferred Plan for Expanded Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

According to the preferred alternative for expanded plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Northern New Mexico nuclear weapons facility would get nearly everything it wanted when the Bush Administration also proposed expansion in the early 2000s.  That proposal was called “The Bombplex” and was defeated by strong public opposition.  The current preferred alternative, No. 2c, would use the existing Plutonium Facility as a bridge unit until proposed construction of underground modules is completed.  Nevertheless, the same volcanic geology remains on the Pajarito Plateau resulting in the high likelihood of seismic events and post-seismic fires with significant consequences.  Despite proposed engineering fixes, the high risk remains with serious consequences to all life, including those living downwind and downstream, tourists, animals, water, land and air.

When a new administration enters the White House it reviews, and inevitably changes, the previous administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.  In 2018, the Nuclear Posture Review emphasized the need for “an effective, responsive, and resilient nuclear weapons infrastructure” that can “adapt flexibly to shifting requirements.”  https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF

The Pentagon stated it needed 80 plutonium pits per year.  Plutonium pits are the triggers for nuclear weapons.  The Department of Energy (DOE), and its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), suggested four alternatives to meet the need.  One is to modify the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the DOE’s Savannah River Site to manufacture 50 pits per year. Two alternatives include Savannah River manufacturing 50 pits, and LANL manufacturing 30.  Another is for LANL to manufacture all 80.

Other problems include the estimated $30 billion life cycle price tag.  Senate and House members on both sides of the aisle have bristled at the cost in recent congressional hearings.  A 2018 engineering assessment by Parsons suggests that keeping the pit production exclusively at LANL could save $15 billion.  https://nukewatch.org/new-and-updated-item/nnsa-downplays-study-that-says-agency-cant-make-50-nuke-cores-per-year-by-2030-in-s-c/

This week the Institute for Defense released its congressionally-mandated review of the four alternatives.  It found that all of the alternatives have cost and schedule risks.  It concluded that the two-site plan is possibly achievable, which will require management focus, time, and resources.  https://nukewatch.org/new-and-updated-item/6129/

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, “NNSA’s plans for expanded plutonium pit production is a house of cards waiting to fall down. First, we have an agency with a long track record of cost overruns and schedule slippages. Added to this is the lack of true mission need.”

He continued, “Plutonium pit production is not being expanded to maintain stockpile safety and reliability. Instead it’s all about provocative new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested, or alternatively will push the U.S. back into testing with serious proliferation consequences.”  https://nukewatch.org/


1.    In response to community advocacy – thank you! -, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) re-scheduled their next April 19th meeting to Friday, April 26th from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at the tentative location of the Espanola City Hall to discuss a Restated and Amended  Joint Powers Agreement Establishing the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities By and Among the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, the City of Espanola, Rio Arriba County, the Town of Taos, Taos County and the Sovereign Governments of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh and the Pueblo of Jemez.  https://regionalcoalition.org/

Despite public requests since 2010, the RCLC has not defined key terms in the JPA dealing with congressional lobbying activities to increase the Department of Energy (DOE) funding at LANL.  These terms include “mission diversification,” “economic development,” advocary for long-term stable funding of LANL missions,” etc.   

2.    Nuclear Watch New Mexico has been leading the effort to challenge expanded plutonium pit production at LANL.  To learn more, check out these documents on their website:

Requirement for preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for expanded plutonium pit production, letter to Ms. Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, from Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Watch, and Tri-Valley CAREs on October 31, 2018 at https://nukewatch.org/issues/plutonium-pit-production/

Watchdog groups seek review of plutonium plan, Santa Fe New Mexican, November 2, 2018 at https://nukewatch.org/news-item/watchdog-groups-seek-review-of-plutonium-plan/

Plutonium Pit Production [National Environmental Policy Act] NEPA Talking Points, January 28, 2019 at https://nukewatch.org/2019/01/28/plutonium-pit-production-nepa-talking-points/

 

Protect Water! Oppose Dirty Water Rule! Comments Due April 15th

On February 24, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to enforce his regulatory reform agenda.  It established the U.S. policy “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”

On Valentine’s Day, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a “Dirty Water Rule,” which would eliminate critical Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams and other stream segments, such as perennial and intermittent segments, above ephemeral streams.  Ephemeral streams flow for a short amount of time, such as after a summer monsoon.  https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule

The New Mexico Environment Department estimates that over 96 percent of New Mexico’s waters would lose Clean Water Act protection.  https://www.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/032119-WOTUS-lawsuit.pdf  New Mexico does not have regulatory authority from EPA to issue permits for eliminating discharges of pollutants to waterways under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES.  Nor does New Mexico have the regulatory authority from the Corps to issue permits for dredge and fill operations.  EPA and the Army Corps run those programs.

The proposed rule would create a regulatory void in New Mexico.  No state programs exist to fill the regulatory gap if the dirty water rule is approved.  The EPA and Army Corps also would lose jurisdiction for ephemeral, perennial and intermittent streams.

For example, the impacts of discharges of legacy waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) would be tremendous for the Rio Grande.  Ephemeral streams that drain the Pajarito Plateau, where LANL and its dumpsites are located, flow to the Rio Grande.  The Clean Water Act would no longer cover them.  Currently such discharges from LANL into these streams are subject to several NPDES permits issued by EPA.  These include an industrial wastewater permit with 11 separate outfalls; multiple outfalls regulated by a Multi-Sector Industrial Permit; an Individual Stormwater Permit that regulates discharges from 405 contaminated sites; and other discharges regulated by a Construction General Permit.  The proposed changes to the definition of “Waters of the United States” would eliminate EPA’s ability to require LANL to comply with the existing permits.

The Clean Water Act governs water pollution.  Its goal is to maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters so they are fishable and swimmable, meaning that people and fish can swim in the water without harm.

Comments are due to EPA and the Army Corps on Monday, April 15th.  Protect water!  Get your comments in!

Amigos Bravos has a sample comment letter you can use at https://amigosbravos.org/spotlight/view/113

WildEarth Guardians has a detailed explanation about how to submit comments at https://wildearthguardians.org/stand-for-clean-water-info/


The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) scheduled their next meeting for Friday, April 19th from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at the Espanola City Hall to discuss a Restated and Amended  Joint Powers Agreement Establishing the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities By and Among the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, the City of Espanola, Rio Arriba County, the Town of Taos, Taos County and the Sovereign Governments of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh and the Pueblo of Jemez.  https://regionalcoalition.org/

Despite public requests since 2010, the RCLC has not defined key terms in the JPA dealing with congressional lobbying activities to increase the Department of Energy (DOE) funding at LANL.  These terms include “mission diversification,” “economic development,” advocary for long-term stable funding of LANL missions,” etc.   

Friday, April 19th is Good Friday and the beginning of Passover.  CCNS’s experience over the past 31 years indicates there is less public participation during times of cultural and religious holidays.  Inevitably, this will be the case with the RCLC meeting. 

Please contact your elected officials who are representatives of the RCLC and ask that the meeting be rescheduled:

Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal – <hproybal@santafecountynm.gov>

Taos Councilor Darien Fernandez – dfernandez@taosgov.com

Santa Fe City Councilor Peter Ives – pnives@santafenm.gov

Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz – david.izraelevitz@lacnm.us

Mayor Javier E. Sanchez – javiersanchez@espanolanm.gov

Taos County Commissioner Mark Gallegos – mark.gallegos@taoscounty.org

Ohkay Owingeh Representative Ron Lovato

Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo – lvjaramillo@rio-arriba.org

 

CCW Asks WQCC to Remand LANL Permit to NMED Secretary

On Tuesday, April 9th, the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) will argue that the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission remand a groundwater discharge permit proceeding back to the New Mexico Environment Department Secretary because the Hearing Officer and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) corrupted the permit hearing process.  CCW questions the legal ethics of the Hearing Officer and the Department of Energy’s NNSA at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) because during the permit proceedings, the Hearing Officer successfully applied for employment with the NNSA.  http://ccwnewmexico.org/

The permit proceeding involves a groundwater discharge permit for the 66-year old Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, which treats liquid wastes contaminated with hazardous and toxic pollutants, plutonium, and low-level radiation.

CCW contested the permit because the New Mexico Water Quality Act states that if a facility handles hazardous waste and would be regulated by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, and then no Water Quality Act permit may be issued.

Further, the permit will never come into effect.  The Water Quality Act states that a permit becomes effective when there is a discharge.  LANL stopped discharging in November 2010.  The permit would never become effective, thus, the permit is a nullity.

In March 2018, before the April 19th permit hearing began, CCW filed a motion to dismiss because there is no discharge.  The Hearing Officer denied the motion without explanation.

In June, CCW renewed its motion to dismiss.  On July 19th, the Hearing Officer issued a draft report, in which she rejected CCW’s argument, again without explanation.  The Parties provided comments on the draft report.  The Hearing Officer issued a revised report on August 29th, and the Secretary approved the permit the same day.

In January, CCW learned that on June 15th, 2018, NNSA had published a job opening for an attorney.  Applications were due by July 26th.  Sometime before July 26th, the Hearing Officer applied.

NNSA stated in its response brief, “The facts do not establish exactly when any interviews may have occurred.  Accordingly, it would be justified for the Commission to assume for these purposes that contact may well have occurred prior to the Hearing Officer’s issuance of her report and revised report.”

On September 18th, NNSA offered the Hearing Officer the job.  She accepted and started work on November 25th.

Under the law, a decisionmaker who has a personal interest that may be affected by his or her decision is disqualified.  In this situation, the Hearing Officer’s job application would have a better chance if she ruled in favor of the LANL.  She did rule in LANL’s favor, and then she got the job she had applied for.  CCW argues that the Hearing Officer’s decision was invalid and the case must go back to the Environment Department.

CCW is represented by Jon Block, of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center https://nmelc.org/, and Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr. http://lindsaylovejoy.com/.

PLEADINGS:

2-4-19    CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –  CCW MOTION TO VACATE AND REMAND WQCC 18-05-A on DP-1132-20190204

2-5-19    CCW Exhibits A and B Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   EXHIBIT A     EXHIBIT B

2-18-19  New Mexico Environment Department’s Response to CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand  –  190219 DP-1132 NMED Response WQCC 18-05(A) 02-19-19

2-19-19  U.S. Department of Energy and Triad National Security, LLC Response to CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   190219 DP-1132 WQCC No 18-05(A) Triad DOE’s Response to CCW’s Motion to Vacate (2-19-19) (W3369547x7A92D)

2-25-19  CCW Reply Brief on Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   WQCC 18-05-A CCW reply brief 2019-02-25


…about these upcoming events:

1. Saturday, April 6, 2019 – Trinity Site Open House. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) invites everyone who would like to stand with them at either the gate to the Stallion Site, off of Highway 285 about 10 miles east of San Antonio from 9 am to 1 pm, OR at the Tularosa Gate Site, at the Tularosa High School parking lot beginning from 7:30 to 8:30 am.

The TBDC invites everyone to bring their own chair, water, snacks and appropriate clothing as the weather is sometimes cold and windy.  They will provide a porta-pottie for everyone’s convenience.

The goal is to educate people about what it has meant to be a downwinder.

2.  Monday, April 15th, 2019 – Waters of the United States (WOTUS) – If the proposed dirty water rule is approved by EPA, the New Mexico Environment Department estimates that 96% of the waters of New Mexico would not be subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction and protection under the proposed rule.  HELP!  Get your comments in!

Amigos Bravos provides sample public comments you can use at https://amigosbravos.org/take_action/letter/42

 

New Nuclear Arms Race & Downwinders Events at White Sands

On February 1st, the Trump Administration announced that the United States would withdrawal from the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.  Both the U.S. and Russia are expected to complete the withdrawal process in August.  At the same time, the Pentagon plans to begin flight tests for two intermediate range missiles that are banned under the Treaty.  Defense officials claim that the missiles are non-nuclear.  They are land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,410 miles.

The Treaty, which came into effect in 1987, was negotiated to eliminate intermediate-range, nuclear tipped missiles because they have short flight times to reach their target.  The work with non-compliant missiles would cease if the two countries reach a deal before August to continue the Treaty.

(Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Journal)

To make a statement in support of the Treaty and the first victims of atomic bomb testing on July 16th, 1945, please join the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium at two White Sands Missile Range entrances during the Trinity Site open house on Saturday, April 6th.  The Army opens the radioactively contaminated Trinity Site to the public twice a year.  https://www.wsmr.army.mil/Trinity/Pages/Home.aspx

Beginning at 7:30 am, the Downwinders will gather at the Tularosa Gate, located on the Tulie Gate Road, west of the Tularosa High School, for a one-hour peaceful demonstration.

Beginning at 9 am, the Downwinders will gather at the Stallion Range Station, east of San Antonio on Highway 380, for a three-hour peaceful demonstration.  Please bring your own water, snacks, chair, hat, and a poster or sign.

The Downwinders will provide information about the harm done to the People living downwind of the Trinity Site and their efforts to ensure that the Downwinders are included in the proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).  In 1990, Congress passed RECA to provide medical care and compensation to those living downwind of the Nevada Test Site, another location used for testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.   The Trinity Downwinders have never been included even though over $2.3 billion has been paid in claims.  https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Downwinders said, “Seventy-four years have passed.  Now is the time for the U.S. Government to recognize those who were unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated, innocent participants in the world’s largest science experiment, who have been suffering in silence ever since the bomb was detonated.  Our organization is revealing the rest of the story and the People are being made aware of the complete legacy of Trinity.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/home

1.  This week is the 40th year since the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident.  Beyond Nuclear compiled a number of stories about the overexposure of residents to radiation and how the true health impacts weren’t properly investigated.  Now Three Mile Island wants a bailout.  

*  Residents around TMI exposed to far more radiation than officials claimed –  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/03/24/residents-around-tmi-exposed-to-far-more-radiation-than-officials-claimed/

*  Too cheap to meter now needs a bailout?  Now Three Mile Island wants a fourth bailout – the first in 1979 to defuel the melted core; the second in 1995 for “cleanup” of the accident; the third in 1996 during the restructuring of the electrical industry – separating the generation of electricity from its distribution and transmission; and the fourth – Exelon Energy and First Energy wants to charge consumers a nuclear tax.

2.  For more information about how the nuclear power industry operates, see Eric Epstein’s article referenced above.  Mr. Epstein is the chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and founded in 1977.

3.  For more information about TMI’s 40th commemoration, listen to Libbe HaLevy’s special edition of Nuclear Hotseat at http://nuclearhotseat.com/2019/03/26/three-mile-island-40th-anniversary-pt-1-wtf-happened-at-tmi-nh-405/  Ms. HaLevy is a survivor of the TMI accident.

 

Trump Budget seeks to boost nuclear weapons and reduce cleanup

On March 11, the Trump administration released its overall budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that includes a $1.3 billion increase to $12.4 billion for nuclear weapons, while reducing cleanup funding by $517 million to $5.5 billion, compared with current spending. The 11.8 percent increase for nuclear weapons is for “modernization” and to support the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Among other things, that nuclear weapons policy intends to “[p]rovide the enduring capability and capacity to produce plutonium pits at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030.”  Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the only site currently that manufactures the plutonium pits that are the core of nuclear bombs. But in addition to increasing pit production at LANL, the budget will support development of new pit manufacturing capacity at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The dramatic increase from the current production of from 0 to a few plutonium pits per year to 80 pits would also result in more dangerous activities for workers, and significantly more radioactive and toxic chemical waste production. Nonetheless, the Budget Request reduces cleanup spending at LANL from $220 million to $195 million, or more than 11 percent.

Sandia National Laboratory’s nuclear weapons work would increase to about $2 billion (a few million dollars more than LANL), while its $2.6 million cleanup budget would remain about the same amount and would not fund clean up of the Mixed Waste Landfill, which is a significant public concern in Albuquerque.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), New Mexico’s third major Department of Energy site, which is the repository for transuranic or plutonium-contaminated nuclear weapons waste, would have a funding increase of about $23 million to $363 million. The increase is for continuing efforts to expand the amount of waste at the site and extend its operational lifetime for decades.

Congressional committees will debate the budget for several months with the goal of passing authorization and appropriations bills by September 30 to fund all of the federal government, including the nuclear weapons and cleanup activities. Senator Tom Udall is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes the appropriation bills. Senator Martin Heinrich is on the Senate Armed Services Committee that develops the National Defense Authorization bill that includes nuclear weapons and cleanup. Representatives Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres-Small serve on the House Armed Services Committee that originates the defense authorization bill.

Whether the nation’s, and New Mexican’s, priorities are more nuclear weapons and nuclear waste and less cleanup will be part of the congressional debate over the next few months. People are encouraged to contact their Representative and Senators about these important issues.


  1. The Trump Budget Request for the Department of Energy is at:

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/03/f60/doe-fy2020-budget-in-brief_0.pdf

  1. More detailed budget requests are at:

https://www.energy.gov/cfo/listings/budget-justification-supporting-documents

  1. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review is at:

https://dod.defense.gov/News/SpecialReports/2018NuclearPostureReview.aspx

  1. The Budget Request for the entire federal government is at:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/

 

CCNS’ Lawyers Take LANL’s Clean Water Act Exemption to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

On March 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, CCNS’ lawyers will ask the court to invalidate an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) through Outfall 051.  https://www.env.nm.gov/swqb/NPDES/Permits/NM0028355-LANL.pdf

If the court rules in favor of CCNS, the facility that treats radioactive, hazardous, and toxic liquid waste and then stores the drums of sludge containing hazardous waste would be regulated by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, which calls for detailed regulation and provides for enhanced public participation.

But, under an EPA rule, called the Wastewater Treatment Unit exemption, if a facility is regulated under a Clean Water Act permit, that facility is exempt from the Hazardous Waste Act.

However, since November 2010, no discharge has occurred from Outfall 051.  In order to have coverage under the Clean Water Act, there must be a discharge.  More than eight years ago, LANL began its zero-discharge system by evaporating the discharge into the air.

But LANL wants to keep the Clean Water Act exemption, and the laboratory acknowledged in a 1998 report that the “[L]oss of this exemption would mean that the [Facility] would be required to meet additional [hazardous waste] regulatory guidelines regarding waste treatment practices.  … The [Facility] would need to manage the [pollutants] in the waste stream and so have much better knowledge of, and control over, waste discharged to it for treatment.”  It also acknowledged that enhanced public participation would be required.

A New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act permit, issued by the New Mexico Environment Department, could regulate the operation of the entire liquid waste system, including all the pipes and systems that deliver liquid waste to the treatment facility, the facility itself, and the pipes and tanks that are downstream.

In June 2016, CCNS, through its attorneys, Jon Block with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Lindsay A. Lovejoy, requested EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas to terminate Outfall 051 from the permit.  http://nmelc.org/ and http://lindsaylovejoy.com/  In August 2017, EPA denied CCNS’s request.  The EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, DC, also denied CCNS’s request.

The Oral Argument before three judges of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is at 9 am on March 19 at the University of Utah – S.J. Quinney College of Law in Salt Lake City. The Court will issue an order deciding the case at a later date.

Lindsay Lovejoy, who will be arguing CCNS’s case, said, “This facility should be subject to the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act. The law requires such regulation, which would also better protect public health and the environment.”

March 28th marks the 40th anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant disaster.  For more information, please visit:

  1. Three Mile Island Alert at http://www.tmia.com/ The group has produced a 40th anniversary downloadable media packet.
  2. Beyond Nuclear’s Three Mile Island Truth at http://www.beyondnuclear.org/tmi-truth/
  3. Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) articles at https://www.nirs.org/?s=three+mile+island