DOE Must Hold Hearings in New Mexico about Order 140.1

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new order restricting the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board access to some of the most dangerous nuclear facilities across the country. Its implementation at DOE’s three defense nuclear facilities in New Mexico has been detrimental.

(Courtesy of WIPP)

As a result, CCNS launched a campaign to ensure DOE holds public hearings to explain the order and its implementation in communities near Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  We need your help – to support the campaign please, f Perry DOE O 140.1 sample public comment ltr

The order, entitled, “Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” was issued in May, without public notice and opportunity to comment.

Congress established the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in 1988 after numerous, eye-opening disclosures about worker and public health and safety issues at the DOE nuclear weapons facilities.  Its statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy … in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”

For the past 30 years, the Board has overseen and reported about both worker safety and public health and safety issues.  The new Order limits the Board’s oversight to public health and safety.  The restriction does not allow the Board to do its work efficiently and effectively.

At an August 28th Board hearing in Washington, DC about the Order, Board member Joyce Connery explained the intersectionality of worker and public health and safety.  She said, “Low-level events … may impact only the workers prior to a series of failures which could ultimately lead to a release of [contaminants] off-site.  If I cannot evaluate all the layers of defense in-depth to understand where potential weaknesses exist, I cannot make a determination of adequate protection for the public.”

After the hearing, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico wrote to the key members of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee requesting that language be included in the final bill requiring DOE to suspend DOE Order 140.1.  Instead, DOE must brief Congress within 30 days of passage of the final appropriations bill, which is anticipated to be on the President’s desk soon.

Nevertheless, on September 5th, the Senators wrote to DOE Secretary Rick Perry urging him to suspend the new order, hold hearings in impacted communities, and after responding to the comments received from the Board and the public, to then “reissue an order the fully complies with [the Board’s] legal authority to continue to protect workers and the community.”

To support the Senators, please consider submitting your own letter to Secretary Perry at, and copy it to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board at  Or use our sample comment letter, which may be modified.  Be sure to insert the date and your contact information.  f Perry DOE O 140.1 sample public comment ltr


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