Current Activities

WIPP 700-C townhall Feb. 25th will be rescheduled

The WIPP 700-C townhall originally scheduled for Feb. 25th will be rescheduled. This change will ensure that we meet our commitment to having relevant data publicly posted for at least a week before the town hall to provide the public an opportunity to review. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to communicating with you soon.
More information from CCNS:
WIPP 700-C fan four-hour test data from the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center is posted here:  https://www.cemrc.org/2021/02/11/700-c-fan-test-results/
WIPP anticipates posting its data in a week or so.  It plans a town hall in two weeks or so.
The New Mexico Environment Department virtual community engagement meeting for LANL will take place Th. Feb. 25th from 5:30 to 7 pm.  Connection information in English and Spanish available at:  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NMED/bulletins/2c0bf27 
 

EPA Reopens Comment Period for LANL Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit

At the request of Triad National Security, LLC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened the comment period for the industrial wastewater discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no  According to EPA, on November 12, 2020, Triad requested that EPA reopen the public comment period so that it could respond to the information provided by other commenters that Triad believes “to be incomplete, misleading, or technical[ly] inaccurate.”

Prior to this, on October 15, 2020, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and the New Mexico Acequia Association submitted a 33-page brief to EPA opposing the issuance of the discharge permit for the six LANL facilities that, in fact, no longer discharge wastewater to the environment.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no-0

In a recent letter to the EPA, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) stated that the new information they referenced in the brief comes from Department of Energy and Triad documents that support their argument that EPA is prohibited from issuing a permit for six non-discharging facilities.

While the Clean Water Act forbids the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States, it does allow EPA to “issue a permit for a discharge of any pollutant, or combination of pollutants.”

One of the non-discharging facilities is the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility (Outfall 051).  Since November 2010, a mechanical evaporator has been used to treat the wastewaters.  Hazardous waste is handled, treated and stored at the facility.

The federal hazardous waste laws provide that, if a facility that handles, treats and stores hazardous wastes also has a Clean Water Act permit, it is exempt from hazardous waste laws.  Triad has asked EPA to issue a permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, and others, that have not discharged in order to keep the exemption and prevent regulation by the hazardous waste laws.  In 1998, LANL recognized the hazardous waste exemption was an “important consideration” when it planned to shift from discharging to evaporation.

The other five facilities as detailed in Triad’s permit application and associated documents are:

  1. Sanitary Wastewater System (SWWS) Plant (Outfall 13S), located at TA-46;
  2. Strategic Computing Complex (SCC) cooling tower (Outfall 03A027), located at TA-3;
  3. Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) cooling tower (Outfall 03A113), located at TA-53;
  4. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) cooling tower (03A160), located at TA-35; and
  5. High Explosive Wastewater Treatment Facility (HEWTF) (Outfall 05A055), located at TA-16. “Since November of 2007, the HEWTF has used the electric evaporator and not discharged through the permitted outfall.”  H-125.

Hazardous waste regulation requires a public permitting process for approval of new construction, assessment of compliance with safety standards for seismic risk, assurances of the engineering integrity of the tank systems where treatment and storage takes place, and completeness of the closure planning.  These requirements would be instituted through a public process, enabling members of the public to advocate for more protective levels of public health and safety assurances than provided in the Clean Water Act.

The NGOs are requesting EPA grant an additional comment period for response to Triad’s second submittal.

As of now, the public comment period ends on Sunday, February 28th.  Stay tuned to nuclearactive.org where sample public comments you can use will be posted soon.


1. Friday, Feb. 19th and Saturday, Feb. 20th from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. We’ll have banners, bring a sign.

 

2. Wednesday, Feb. 24th at 11 to noon – Bulletin for the Atomic Scientist virtual program about “Why is America getting a new $100 billion nuclear weapon?” To register:  https://info.thebulletin.org/NewNuclearWeapon

 

3. Thursday, February 25th from 5:30 to 7 pm: NMED Community Engagement Meeting re:  NMED’s work at LANL.  For details and links, scroll down to February 11, 2021 press release in English and Spanish.  https://www.env.nm.gov/news-releases/    

 

4. Thursday, February 25th at 6:30 pm: WIPP Town Hall 700-C Fan Test Results.  Please click HERE to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from WIPP containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.  Test results will be available on the 700-C restart webpage before the meeting.        

 

5. Friday and Saturday February 26 & 27: 26th Annual Tulane Environmental Law & Policy Summit, a zoomed event.  Environmental Justice is the theme.  The event is free and open to the public.  CCNS Board Member, Myrriah Gomez, Ph.D., will moderate a distinguished panel about Recent Publications on Environmental Injustice.  For more information:  https://tulaneenvironmentallawsummit.com/

 

Love New Mexico DON’T WASTE IT! Stop Forever WIPP

Love New Mexico

DON’T WASTE IT!

Stop Forever WIPP

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2021

The 7th Anniversary of the Explosion at WIPP

Seven years ago on Valentine’s Day, underground at WIPP, one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste, packaged and shipped by LANL, exploded, releasing radiation below and above ground.

Please send a valentine to

our Governor

NM Environment Department Secretary James Kenney

and to our Federal Congressional Delegation

 

Let them know that you remain concerned
about safety and security at WIPP
and
Ask them to STOP plans to expand WIPP
Urge them to publicly support the closure of WIPP in 2024 after 25 years of operations as promised by the DOE,and as required by the NM Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Permit for WIPP.
Write your own text or copy this text into your email

LOVE NEW MEXICO

Don’t waste it!
STOP FOREVER WIPP

February 14 – Valentine’s Day
The 7th Anniversary of the Explosion at WIPP
  • Safety and security at WIPP remains a concern.
  • Please stop the plans to expand WIPP and keep waste coming for many decades.
  • Keep the promises for limits on WIPP.
  • Require other disposal sites.

  • Support the closure of WIPP in 2024 as required by the
    New Mexico Environment Department’s WIPP Permit

 

 

Click on the picture to read the WIPP History & Timeline

 

Forward this Valentine to your Family and Friends
and post it on your Facebook page.

Ask them to send it out and love New Mexico too!

Stop Forever WIPP is a coalition opposing the expansion of WIPP and is a project of SRIC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider CCNS Petition for Certiorari about EPA Discharge Permit for LANL

Another step on a twisted journey will take place on Friday, February 26th, when the U.S. Supreme Court will consider CCNS’s Petition for Certiorari in a case challenging the issuance of a Clean Water Act discharge permit for a critical Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) facility.  https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-717.html  In an unpublished decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decided erroneously that CCNS did not have standing to challenge the permit.  CCNS v. EPA (RLWTF) 200423 CA10 decision  For that reason, CCNS filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of the Tenth Circuit’s decision.

The critical LANL facility is the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, or RLWTF.  It has operated since 1963.  It treats radioactive and hazardous liquid wastes from key plutonium and tritium facilities across the LANL site.  It discharged treated liquid wastewater into Effluent Canyon, which flowed into the upper reach of Mortandad Canyon and soaked into the ground.

But in November 2010, those discharges ended because LANL began to exclusively use an evaporator system to treat the liquids and release them as vapors into the air.

For a facility to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, a discharge of a pollutant into the environment is required.  In an effort to prevent dual regulation by both the Clean Water Act and federal hazardous waste laws, if a facility has a Clean Water Act permit, it is granted an exemption from the hazardous waste laws.  But because the RLWTF no longer discharges, it is no longer eligible for a Clean Water Act permit and must be regulated by the hazardous waste laws.  But EPA did issue the permit.  As a result, neither the Clean Water Act nor the hazardous waste laws regulate the RLWTF to the detriment of the People.

CCNS members submitted affidavits to the Tenth Circuit stating our fears that the lack of proper hazardous waste regulation means that we are deterred from visiting riparian areas near and downgradient from the RLWTF in the Rio Grande watershed.

The Tenth Circuit ruled that persons who live in and use lands downgradient from the RLWTF, and whose use and enjoyment of those areas are diminished by its noncompliance lack standing to question the unlicensed operations.  The court added that CCNS must prove that the pollutants had reached the Rio Grande, a requirement not found in existing standing criteria.  The Tenth Circuit’s decision is inconsistent with other decisions within the federal circuits.  Thus, our appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., represents CCNS.  http://lindsaylovejoy.com/

Please make a tax-deductible contribution to CCNS to support these efforts to hold the federal government accountable to enforce the laws.


  1. Valentine’s Day – Sunday, February 14th: Seventh anniversary of the explosion in the WIPP underground of one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste packaged and shipped by LANL.  Please contact Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/ , New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney james.kenney@state.nm.us , and your congressional members and tell them:

LOVE NEW MEXICO

Don’t waste it!

STOP FOREVER WIPP

 

 ~Safety and security at WIPP remains a concern.

~Please stop the plans to expand WIPP and keep waste coming for many decades.

~Keep the promises for limits on WIPP.

~Require other disposal sites.

 

~Support the closure of WIPP in 2024 as required by the New Mexico Environment Department’s WIPP Permit

 

  1. Monday, February 15 at 10 am MST (Albuquerque) and 10 am CST (Mexico City) – Virtual Celebration with OPANAL (Organismo para la Proscripcion de Armas Nucleares en la America Latina y el Caribe) in the commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

Crash course for those unfamiliar with OPANAL and/or Tlatelolco (pronunced tuh-laa-tuh-laal-kuh):  The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean – known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco – is the legal instrument signed and ratified by all 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It prohibits: the testing, use, manufacture, production or acquisition by any means whatsoever of any nuclear weapons, directly or indirectly, within said region. The Treaty of Tlatelolco delineates its Zone of Application (Article 4); it creates and sets the structure, powers, and activities for the Agency (OPANAL) which oversees compliance with the obligations of the Contracting Parties (Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 22, and 23); it establishes a Control System, under OPANAL, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (Articles 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16).

To learn more:  http://www.opanal.org/en/the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons-in-latin-america/

 

  1. Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor with uranium and plutonium fuel, draft environmental impact statement.  Sample public comments are available at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

  1. Thursday, February 18th: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.

 

  1. Thursday, February 25th at 6:30 pm: WIPP Town Hall 700-C Fan Test Results. Please click HERE to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from WIPP containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.  Test results will be available on the 700-C restart webpage before the meeting.
 

Newsbytes about WIPP and LANL

This week’s Update will provide short highlights of a recent victory and information about Department of Energy (DOE) plans either to bring more than 34 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico or to use the plutonium in a proposed test reactor.  These plans are open for public review and comment.  And finally, DOE tested the 700-C fan at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

First, the victory:  On Tuesday, January 26th, the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution requiring a new site-wide environmental impact statement, or SWEIS, for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) before any proposed expansion of plutonium pit production there.  Plutonium pits are the triggers for nuclear weapons.  The last LANL SWEIS was completed in 2008.

Commissioners Anna Hansen and Anna Hamilton brought the resolution forward.  SF Co. BCC LANL SWEIS Resolution No. 2021-011

Although public comments were due on Monday, February 1st, about the scope of an upcoming environmental impact statement for DOE’s plans to bring 34 Metric Tons of surplus plutonium to WIPP, DOE has extended the comment period to Thursday, February 18thhttps://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program    Sample public comment letters you can use are available here.  f one-pager Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21     f long Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21

At the same time, DOE has another plan for the same 34 Metric Tons of surplus plutonium, which is as fuel for its proposed three to six billion dollar Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory.

DOE claims that it needs the test reactor for experimentation, but no support of that claim is found in the draft environmental impact statement.  Normally, uranium is used as fuel.  DOE wants to use both uranium and plutonium as fuel, which would increase the risk of operating such a reactor.  The fuel would be fabricated at either the Idaho National Laboratory or at the Savannah River Site.

This operation would generate waste, which DOE wants to ship to WIPP.  Public comments are due to DOE by Tuesday, February 16th.  https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/versatile-test-reactor

A short sample public comment letter that you can use is available here.  Sample comment Versatile Test Reactor 2-4-21 

Finally, over this past weekend, DOE conducted a four-hour test of the aboveground 700-C fan at WIPP to determine what amount of radioactive particles would be released. The fan was shut off on February 14, 2014 when one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste exploded in the deep geologic disposal facility.  DOE claims that using the fan increases airflow in the underground.  But releasing contamination endangers workers on the surface.  The $300 million New Filter Building that would bring uncontaminated airflow is delayed by contractor errors.  Test results from the air sampling will be available soon.  DOE will host a virtual public meeting to discuss them in about two weeks.  https://www.energy.gov/em/articles/wipp-completes-initial-test-restarting-700-c-ventilation-fan-0


  1. Sunday, February 14, 2021: Seventh anniversary of the explosion in the WIPP underground of one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste packaged and shipped by LANL.  Please contact your congressional and state representatives and let them know that you remain concerned about safety and security at WIPP.  Urge them to publicly support the closure of WIPP in 2024 after 25 years of operations as promised by the DOE, and, as required by the NM Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Permit.

 

  1. Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor with uranium and plutonium fuel, draft environmental impact statement.  Sample public comments are available at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

  1. Thursday, February 18, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.
 

Stop Surplus Plutonium Waste from Coming to WIPP!

What’s Next?

DEADLINE – MONDAY, February 1, 2021

Stop Surplus Plutonium Waste from Coming to WIPP

 

The time is now!

NOW is the time for New Mexicans to be heard. The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to dispose 34 metric tons of so-called “surplus plutonium” at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. Accepting this pure or diluted, plutonium would violate the WIPP operating end date, as well as waste type and waste volume limitations. It would also increase transportation and transportation risks.

 

We can stop DOE from sending this new waste to WIPP and turning our state into the nation’s nuclear dumping ground. We have a window of opportunity right now and your actions are critical to protecting our property, health and lives.

 

What’s this opportunity?

We are in the first stage of the public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be prepared to evaluate alternatives for the “disposition of plutonium surplus to the defense needs of the United States.” Right now the public can comment on what should be covered in this EIS, if the alternatives in the EIS are adequate, and if the public process so far has been adequate, fair & inclusive. These are called scoping comments. However, this comment period ends on Monday, February 1, 2021.

 

Click on the map to see an animated video about DOE’s broken promises

 

DOE’s preferred alternative is the “dilute & dispose” alternative that would transport 34 metric tons of plutonium back and forth across the country before disposing it in WIPP.  Even DOE’s “no action” alternative includes dilution of 7.1 MT of plutonium and disposal in WIPP.

 

Transportation risks

DOE’s plans would put people in New Mexico and many other states at risk, increasing accident and plutonium release risks. Such a release would be devastating. Much of this surplus plutonium is stored in Texas. It must be transported first to Los Alamos to be oxidized and then to South Carolina to be diluted before being shipped back to WIPP in New Mexico.

 

Click on the map to see an animated video on transportation risks & more

 

Even during normal operations, increased transportation will lead to increased exposures to workers and the public. Radiation is not fully contained by the shipping casks, irradiating anyone close by—especially the WIPP drivers and employees at truck & rest stops, who are irradiated over and over again.

 

Some points you may want to make

in your comments about the EIS

  1. There should be an alternative that does not end up with any of this waste coming to WIPP.
  2. Risk assessments and effects studies need to be done for each alternative both for the sites and especially along the shipping routes.
  3. The EIS must explain why DOE wants to break the social contract agreements it made with New Mexico that included other disposal sites.

 

What Can I do?

Click here for a short & simple sample comment email

Click here for a longer, more detailed sample comment email

Click here for a WIPP timeline and summary of WIPP history

 

  • Tell your senators, representatives, and the Governor to oppose DOE’s proposal to bring 34 metric tons or more of diluted surplus plutonium to WIPP.

 

  • Also ask for a more inclusive public process, especially for those who need information in Spanish or other languages, and for those who have poor or no online access.

 

 

 

 

Donate by credit card through our GoFundMe page

Donate by check to
Southwest Research and Information Center
P.O. Box 4524
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-4524
Make the check out to SRIC and put Stop Forever WIPP in the memo line

Stop Forever WIPP is a coalition opposing the expansion of WIPP and is a project of SRIC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.

 

January 22, 2021: A Day for the History Books

Joni Arends, of CCNS, (L) and Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen (R) holding the Entry into Force banner at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Jan. 21, 2021.

Celebrating the entry into force of the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Friday, January 22nd, the Santa Fe Veterans for Peace invited people to join them in an extended Friday noon vigil.

In Santa Fe, at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, under a bright winter sun, members of Veterans for Peace held white peace flags that fluttered in the stiff wind, and their light blue, frame-supported banner said, “Nuclear Weapons are Illegal” in black lettering.  Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety held bright yellow 8-foot banners with the same large black lettering. Across the bottom of all the banners was written, “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Is Now Law.”  Cars at the intersection honked in support of the message that was displayed by about twenty individuals.

After the hour-long Santa Fe vigil, almost everyone drove to Ashley Pond Park in Los Alamos and stood for a second hour-long vigil on the sidewalks along Trinity Drive.

As the hour came to a close, the group circled around to reflect on the day’s significance.  Mateo Peixinho, of Chimayo, acknowledged that Los Alamos is built on Pueblo de San Ildefonso lands.  He reported that he’d just learned that this day, January 22nd, is the Pueblo’s Feast Day, an auspicious day for the celebration of the Treaty’s entry into force.

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, shared words from his inspiring op ed:  “The U.S. was among the last major countries to abolish slavery but did so in the end.  To modify Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous quote, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards [the] justice’ of abolishing nuclear weapons.  This ban treaty is the beginning of that end and should be celebrated as such.”  https://nukewatch.org/

Ken Mayers, of Veterans for Peace, added this observation.  “In New York City, activists used high-powered projection lights to illuminate the side of the UN building with a powerful message about nukes for the occasion: ‘Always immoral; Now illegal.’ ’’

Friday, January 22nd was intense, offering a local perspective and a chance to appear in person, at the end of a remarkable January week.  Monday was filled with the sights and sounds of commemorative programs honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On Tuesday, at the reflecting pool in Washington, D.C., President-elect Joe Biden presided over a prayer vigil for the 400,000 lives lost so far in the pandemic. Wednesday, Inauguration Day, brought the focus to plans for the future and the potential to begin anew across the country.

The local demonstrations in support of the Treaty brought home in an immediate way—with live human beings, neighbor-to-neighbor, properly masked and distanced–the possibility of curtailing the world’s reliance on nuclear weapons.

Basia Miller, a CCNS Board member, reflected by saying, “On this sunny day, we joined together also to celebrate the devoted efforts of the thousands of people in the 86 signatory countries and around the world who worked so long to make this United Nations Treaty a reality.”  BASIA’S 1-16-21 MY VIEW


Did You Know about the upcoming public comment opportunity, a CodePink event and interesting articles?

 

  1. Monday, Feb. 1, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.

 

  1. Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 from 3 – 4 pm MST – CodePink webinar The True Cost of Nuclear Weapons with Beata Tsosie-Peña of Tewa Women United; Joni Arends of CCNS; and Trisha T. Pritikin, Author of The Hanford Plaintiffs. To register for the event, go to  https://www.codepink.org/02022021

 

  1. “Why the United States should support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” by William J. Perry, at https://thebulletin.org/2021/01/why-the-united-states-should-join-the-treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons/

 

  1. “Turn back the Clock: The nuclear ban treaty is entering into force,” by Talei Luscia Mangioni and Alicia Sanders-Zakre, at https://thebulletin.org/2021/01/turn-back-the-clock-the-nuclear-ban-treaty-is-entering-into-force/

 

  1. “This is your COVID wake-up call: It is 100 seconds to midnight,” 2021 Doomsday Clock Announcement on January 27, 2021, at https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/
 

01/22/21 – Nuclear Weapons Are Illegal Today

 

The big day is here! Today, nuclear weapons become illegal under international law: the UN Treaty on the Prohibitions of Nuclear Weapons – or #nuclearban treaty  – is entering into force. Join the celebrations all around the world: icanw.org/entryintoforce

 

Two DOE Virtual Public Meetings about Plans to Move Tons of Surplus Plutonium to WIPP

The Department of Energy (DOE) will hold two four-hour virtual public meetings on Monday, January 25th and Tuesday, January 26th about its plans to dilute and dispose of up to 48.2 metric tons of radioactive surplus plutonium at the deep geologic Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located in southeastern New Mexico.  DOE is seeking public comments about the scope of a new draft environment impact statement that will examine the DOE’s preferred alternative to dilute and dispose of the plutonium and any alternatives.  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0549-notice-intent   For more information, check out the Action Alerts prepared by the Stop Forever WIPP Coalition, of which CCNS is a part.  http://nuclearactive.org/doe-breaks-its-promises-to-new-mexico-part-i/ and http://nuclearactive.org/doe-breaks-its-promises-to-new-mexico-part-2/

Scoping comments are due to DOE on or before Monday, February 1, 2021.  You can make comments during the virtual meetings, or by phone, email, or U.S. Mail.  The Stop Forever WIPP Coalition has prepared sample public comment letters you can use that are posted here: f one-pager Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21   f long Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21    A WIPP Timeline is also available here: WIPP-Timeline_Final 

The Monday, January 25th public meeting will occur from 3 to 7 pm Mountain Standard Time.  The Tuesday, January 26th meeting will occur from 5 to 9 pm Mountain Standard Time.  You can participate by telephone, computer or other device.  For connection information, links to the meeting presentation and fact sheets in both English and Spanish, and information about where to submit your comments, please visit https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room, scroll down and click on Virtual Public Scoping Meetings for the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program Environmental Impact Statement.  As of this posting, the meeting presentation and fact sheets in English and Spanish are not available on the website….

Surplus plutonium is found in the form of pits, or the triggers for nuclear weapons.  Another source is non-pit plutonium. Both must be converted to plutonium oxide, which is then blended with an unknown adulterant called “stardust.”  The oxidation work would be done at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  Conversion and blending is required for the plutonium to meet the waste acceptance criteria at WIPP.

Despite DOE’s plans, the National Academy of Sciences stated in a recent report that WIPP’s legal capacity can only hold waste long ago designated for disposal from DOE sites.  Review of the Department of Energy’s Plans for Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25593/review-of-the-department-of-energys-plans-for-disposal-of-surplus-plutonium-in-the-waste-isolation-pilot-plant

Over the last 25 years, several U.S. Presidents have designated more than 62 metric tons, or about 69 tons, of plutonium as surplus. Previously, DOE has proposed immobilizing it for disposal in a geologic repository other than WIPP and fabricating it into fuel for nuclear power plants.  Another option is to continue to store it at the Pantex Plant in Texas, or the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

DOE has also proposed building new facilities at the Savannah River Site, including a plutonium pit disassembly and conversion facility; a mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility; and a waste solidification building.  Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent, but none of those facilities is in operation.


Did You Know about these COVID-safe (wear a mask), socially distant, peaceful and non-violent vigils to Celebrate the Entry into Force of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty on Friday, January 22nd? 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. In Albuquerque, from 11 am to 1 pm MST, across the street from the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in the empty lot on Eubank Blvd. SE between La Entrada and Southern Blvd. SE. Organized by the Nuclear Issues Study Group (NISG).  For more information and to view the livestreaming for those who cannot attend in person, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/108487254449335

 

  1. In Santa Fe, from noon to 1 pm MST: CCNS, with Veterans for Peace and others, will vigil with our banners declaring that nuclear weapons are now illegal on the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road.

 

  1. In Los Alamos at Ashley Pond, from 2 to 3 pm MST: CCNS, with Veterans for Peace and others, will vigil with our banners declaring that nuclear weapons are now illegal.

 

  1. International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) virtual celebration event at 8 pm MST. ICAN will go live from Geneva at 8:00 pm MST/ 21:00 CET Friday 22 January.  Please invite all your friends, colleagues, and networks to sign up here:  https://www.icanw.org/studio_2221

 

Please plan to join us in the celebrations that so many of us have been working for decades to achieve! CCNS is grateful for each and every one of you!!!

 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW or Nuclear Ban Treaty) enters into force in its 50 ratifying countries on 1/22/21. This is happy news, but what does this mean, exactly? What can we do to help eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us? (This is the second edition of this short video. It has been edited for even greater clarity and accuracy — which made it a bit longer. Now 2 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px-4RsKGE_A&feature=youtu.be

 

Did You Know about these Treaty Resources?

And here’s a list of other resources, opportunities to sign-on statements, and livestream events:

 

DOE Breaks its Promises to New Mexico Part 2

DOE is breaking the promises it made to New Mexico in exchange for the state’s agreement to allow permanent disposal of some of the nation’s nuclear weapons’ waste con-taminated with plutonium or other transuranics.

Transuranic radioactive waste is produced during nuclear weapons research and production and includes the equipment used during the process.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), where this waste is being buried, is limited to accepting only 6.2 million cubic feet of waste and only waste contaminated with transuranic waste, not pure plutonium itself (surplus plutonium – surplus plutonium containers are shown above). DOE promised to build other repositories for the waste and the state permit provides that waste disposal must end in 2024.

 

DOE’s planned changes break all of these promises.

 

Since WIPP began, everyone knew that its capacity was too small for all of the transuranic-contaminated waste existing even at that time. That’s one reason DOE pledged to create additional repositories.

Click on this image to see a YouTube video of this information

 

DOE’s Failures

It was DOE’s responsibility to identify sites in other states, and construct additional repositories – a responsibility that DOE failed to meet, as these sites were never sought and never built. New Mexico has been left as the only repository, an option the State clearly rejected in the 1980s. DOE has no plans for any other repositories and now wants to bring additional surplus plutonium to WIPP in amounts that would require WIPP to expand and operate, essentially, forever.

 

Increasing the kinds of waste and the volume of waste disposed in WIPP as DOE’s surplus plutonium plans would do, will also increase the risk from the project both in the area around WIPP and to people on the transportation routes. WIPP has failed before when it released radioactive contamination in 2014. How would another release from the site or along the routes affect our traditional ranching, dairy, recreational, oil & gas, and other economies?

There are more than 500 oil & gas wells within 2.5 miles of WIPP

 

We were promised that the risk to our state would be limited by limiting the volume of waste, the types of waste and the time that WIPP would operate. Why should DOE be allowed to break that promise now?

 

What Can I do?

Click here for a short & simple sample comment email

Click here for a longer, more detailed sample comment email

Click here for a WIPP timeline and summary of WIPP history

 

  • Tell your senators, representatives, and the Governor to oppose DOE’s proposal to bring 34 metric tons or more of diluted surplus plutonium to WIPP.

 

  • Also ask for a more inclusive public process, especially for those who need information in Spanish or other languages, and for those who have poor or no online access.

 

 

 

 

Donate by credit card through our GoFundMe page

Donate by check to
Southwest Research and Information Center
P.O. Box 4524
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-4524
Make the check out to SRIC and put Stop Forever WIPP in the memo line

Stop Forever WIPP is a coalition opposing the expansion of WIPP and is a project of SRIC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.