Bonuses Show LANL Legacy Waste is Not a WIPP Priority

In July 2022, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the Tularosa Basin Range Services, a Bechtel affiliate, a 10-year, $3 billion management and operating contract for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to continue the disposal of Cold War radioactive and hazardous wastes from the fabrication of plutonium-based nuclear weapons.  The contract contains a four-year base period, or through November 7, 2026, and six one-year option periods.  The newly established contractor is Salado Isolation Mining Contractors LLC, or SIMCO.

DOE calls it a “performance-based, Cost-Plus-Award-Fee” contract.  In addition to the baseline contract amount, each year DOE and SIMCO agree to a Performance Evaluation and Measurement Plan, or PEMP, with bonuses for specified activities during the October 1st to September 30th fiscal year. This year’s PEMP bonus incentives, approved on September 26, 2023, totaled nearly $16.8 million.

In June 2023, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), DOE, SIMCO, non-governmental organizations, including CCNS, and individuals negotiated a renewed hazardous waste permit to strengthen the previous permit.  The renewal permit prioritized disposal of legacy waste, not waste from new weapons production, such as plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site.  The Renewal Permit became effective on November 3, 2023, but the final provisions had been agreed to in the June 2023 negotiations.

Thus, DOE and SIMCO knew of the LANL prioritization condition when the PEMP was approved.  This year’s PEMP is an initial indication of how DOE and SIMCO plan to comply with that prioritization.  To encourage more waste shipments, the PEMP provides for $3.14 million in bonuses if WIPP receives 520 shipments in the year, in the amount of $5,500 for each shipment received, with an additional $7,000 for each of the first 40 shipments from LANL.  Thus, the extra incentive is for about 8 percent of all shipments to be from LANL.  If there are 40 shipments from LANL and 480 shipments from other sites, SIMCO receives the entire bonus amount.

That is not sufficient prioritization based on the expectations of CCNS and others that were involved in the negotiations.

Rather than an increased priority, the number of LANL shipments might actually go down.  In each of the past four years, LANL has sent 46 or more shipments to WIPP, though not all of them were legacy waste but newly generated waste from plutonium pit production.

The PEMPs can be changed during the year.  CCNS believes that for SIMCO to receive the full bonus amounts, the number of LANL legacy waste shipments should be substantially increased.

  1. Friday, January 19, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT ***  NEW LOCATION DUE TO RECONSTRUCTION OF GUADALUPE BRIDGE.  ***  Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, and others.



  1. Monday, January 22nd, marks the third anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The message from the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is:

3-2-1 Happy Anniversary TPNW!
It’s been 3 years since the treaty entered into force, there have been 2 Meetings of States Parties of the treaty where we have seen what real action on disarmament looks like, and there is 1 action you can take today to back the plan to end nuclear weapons.

What action will you take?  Here’s one:

Join with a family member or friend to read the Treaty.  A public-reading friendly version is available at   This version highlights the important portions for our collective work.

For more ideas and information, please visit


  1. Monday, January 22, 2024 – The SECOND public comment period opens about the Los Alamos National Laboratory Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project Draft Environmental Assessment (DOE/EA-2911) for construction and operation of a new 115 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line and upgrading LANL’s existing infrastructure. For more information and to ACT NOW:  Protect the Caja del Rio!  Stop the Power Transmission Line at

The SECOND public comment period ends on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

The Draft EA is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: or directly at 


  1. Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 am Mountain the virtual 2024 Doomsday Clock announcement of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will set the hands of the clock to show the growing threat of nuclear annihilation.

A toolkit has been prepared that you can use to educate people and the media about the nuclear threat and the Doomsday Clock.


  1. Saturday, January 27th from noon to 2 pm Mountain, an online forum about Building a World Without Nuclear Weapons: An Urgent Imperative will focus on the increasing threat of nuclear war and what ordinary citizens can do to prevent it.

The speakers are John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, NM; Dr. Ira Helfand, co-founder and past president of the IPPNW; and Marie Dennis, Catholic Nonviolence Initiative/Pax Christi International.  For more information and to register, go to:


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