Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Privatized Water Profits the Real Goal of Pickens' Wind Energy Plan?

T_boone_pickensT. Boone Pickens -- who funded much of the swiftboating of Kerry in 2004 -- was at the Albuquerque Convention Center today talking about his energy plan, again. But as the plan attracts more scrutiny, Pickens' true motivations for pushing it are being questioned by some. According to an article in the Local Energy News:

Critics say Pickens’ energy plan is providing cover for another plan being developed by the oil baron: Pickens is hoping to pump billions of gallons of water from an aquifer beneath the Texas Panhandle and ship it to Dallas and other major cities as drinking water. The power line corridors for his wind project, to be created by seizing private property through eminent domain, would also serve the $1.5 billion water project. Other critics of his plan question the wisdom of switching our driving addiction from oil dependence to natural gas. The production of natural gas in the U.S. has been declining since 1971.

Be sure to follow the links -- it's a fascinating story of Pickens' no-holds-barred pursuit of profits.

Although cleaner burning than oil, natural gas still produces significant amounts of greenhouse gases when burned. Natural gas prices have also been rising steadily of late and, if Pickens' plan were adopted, they'd no doubt skyrocket just as oil prices have done. Pickens also is a strong supporter of increasing our nuclear power capabilities, despite the fact that it's the most expensive form of energy production by far, and there's no foolproof way to dispose of the waste.

Why Not Decentralize?
I wish more thought would go into decentralizing energy production so those massive transmission lines and long-distance transmission corridors wouldn't be necessary. I don't see why each home or building -- or perhaps square-mile-sized districts -- couldn't be subsidized to create their own energy onsite using a variety of means. Of course this would cut out profits by the corporations that primarily serve as middlemen between energy producers and energy users. This bunch operates in much the same way as do health insurance companies, skimming off significant amounts of money by standing between providers and users and demanding hefty profits for their "gate-keeping" services. Why do we need them?

Ben R. Lujan Weighs In
By the way, here's what Ben R. Lujan, the Dem Congressional candidate in NM-03, had to say about Pickens' plan in a statement released today. As always, he makes a lot of sense:

"Today, T. Boone Pickens is visiting New Mexico to discuss his plan for energy independence. While our solutions differ, we both agree that our country must end our dependence on foreign oil by changing the way we generate energy.

"The United States imports 70 percent of our oil, much of which comes from unstable and hostile regimes. We must become energy independent and produce clean, renewable energy in the United States.

"Our energy crisis requires a comprehensive approach. We should pass 'Use it or Lose it' legislation to require oil companies to use the 68 million available leased acres to increase domestic production, increase fuel efficiency in our automobiles and crack down on speculators and market manipulation.

"Most importantly, our country must aggressively pursue renewable energy production. We must shift the billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies to renewable energy development, including solar and wind. I'll work to extend the Production Tax Credit to encourage economic growth and job creation in the renewable energy industry by promoting stability. We can create new jobs in New Mexico by using our abundant natural resources to lead the way on solar and wind production. Our national laboratories can conduct research and develop solutions to storing and transmitting renewable energy.

"I'm glad that T. Boone Pickens is talking about solutions to our energy crisis and recognizing New Mexico's role in the future of energy generation."

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September 10, 2008 at 01:38 PM in Energy, Green Economy, Nuclear Arms, Power, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tom Udall Votes Against NM National Lab Cuts

Rep. Tom Uall (NM-03) was the sole nay vote yesterday against a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water FY09 budget proposal that includes spending cuts related to nuclear weapons for New Mexico's two national labs.

Provisions in the bill would reportedly eliminate about $145.3 million in funding for a billion dollar plutonium pit production program at Los Alamos National Labs and effectively shut down the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead project. It also cuts about $100 million in construction funds -- mostly for LANL's Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project, which is already being built. The new CMMR building is designed to replace several aging strucures involved in nuclear materials research. The measure would also reduce spending related to nuclear weapons at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque.

Udall released a statement explaining his vote and stressing that he believes the labs need to look to the future and expand their mission beyond a Cold War focus. Excerpt:

“For more than a year, I have worked extensively with our labs to encourage growth in new areas of research as a way to ensure their long-term viability and to move towards the future. In addition to their indispensible role maintaining our essential nuclear arsenal, I believe the labs’ work should grow in the areas of nuclear nonproliferation, homeland security, counterterrorism, intelligence analysis and expanded energy research. We also must provide adequate funding for the cleanup of hazardous legacy waste from the labs.

“By collaborating with the lab leadership and the NNSA, I believe my goals of diversifying the labs and growing them in new areas are beginning to be realized. But there are still obstacles in our path.

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Udall must balance what he clearly understands is necessary to ensure a future for the labs with protecting New Mexico jobs while the labs transition to a 21st century mission quite distinct from its now obsolete Cold War focus. He frames his vote against the cuts against this background:

“Today, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee’s Appropriations proposal was brought before the full committee for a vote. And although this legislation contains many good provisions, it does not provide a path to the future for our national laboratories, and I could not support it. This bill not only cuts critical programs that are essential to the strength of our labs and the security of our nation, it rescinds funding that LANL and Sandia have already been promised and have budgeted for the current fiscal year.

In other words, Udall indicates he's voting against the cuts because they aren't accompanied by adequate new spending for a change in mission for the labs, and because the bill rescinds promised funding that has shaped the labs' budgets in the current year.

Moving Into the Future
Ultimately, Udall's vote is meaningless, except in political terms. He was heavily outvoted on the committee and change is coming to the labs one way or the other. Lab supporters can either stubbornly resist the inevitable or see the handwriting on the wall and embrace a shift in direction. It's evident that a majority of the Congress views the current focus of our national labs on making more nuke weapons as wasteful and out of tune with 21st century concerns.

The message is clearly being sent that nuclear weapons activities should be put on hold until the U.S. develops a comprehensive new strategy for the coming decades. And it's also clear that that strategy will strongly emphasize nuclear non-proliferation, research on renewable energy production, nuke waste cleanup and intelligence analysis -- not a new generation of nuclear weapons.

I think it's unfortunate that Udall felt compelled to vote against the cuts, but I also believe the brunt of the blame for our current situation should go to Sen. Pete Domenici and his cohorts. Domenici, by focusing almost exclusively on "protecting" the labs' historical Cold War mission way beyond its usefulness and meaning in the real world, has effectively jeopardized the labs' ability to transition to a mission that makes sense in today's much changed geopolitical and energy climate.

The transition should have begun long ago, but because Domenici and others have stubbornly resisted change, the transition will be harder on New Mexicans and may even mean an abandonment of Sandia and LANL. Change or die. Unfortunately, Domenici and others who continue to cling to a Manhattan-Project-style mentality are actually increasing the odds that the labs will be judged to be expendable as we move forward into an era far removed from the Cold War.

Despite his vote yesterday, it's plain that Tom Udall gets it, and just as plain that Steve Pearce, his GOP rival in the U.S. Senate race, does not.

Read the coverage by the Albuquerque Journal and the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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June 26, 2008 at 10:20 AM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Energy, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

26 Defective Groundwater Monitoring Wells Discovered at Sandia Labs

From Citizen Action:
Citizen Action, a public interest group, has obtained a list of 26 groundwater monitoring wells throughout Sandia National Laboratories that require plugging and abandonment with installation of replacement wells. The list was obtained by Citizen Action after making a public records request to the New Mexico Environment Department. 

Citizen Action and Robert H. Gilkeson, a ground water expert and geological scientist formerly employed by Los Alamos National Laboratories as lead consultant, filed complaints with the Department of Energy, the Environment Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the wells installed at Cold War-era waste sites located at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, are not in compliance with federal and state regulations. Following the complaints of Citizen Action and Gilkeson, NMED has produced a report that describes the need for the replacement of wells at waste sites such as the Mixed Waste Landfill, the Chemical Waste Landfill, the Tijeras Arroyo groundwater and Technical Area V. The NMED report identifies the problems with the existing monitoring wells to include:

  • corroded stainless steel wells screens,
  • low water levels,
  • high concentrations of nickel and chromium,
  • well screens cross contaminating different strata,
  • well screens that have filled with sediment,
  • well screens that are too deep to monitor the aquifer,
  • wells that were never properly designed or developed for groundwater monitoring,
  • wells that represent a conduit to the groundwater for solvents,
  • improper sampling methods

All of these problems were identified in the complaints of Citizen Action and Mr. Gilkeson.  Several of the monitoring wells were supposed to have served the purpose of monitoring for contamination after the closure of the various sites.  Several of the wells supposedly had projected well lives left of up to 15 years but have failed for numerous reasons. 

Citizen Action and hydrologist Gilkeson have stated repeatedly that the wells installed at the Mixed Waste Landfill are constructed in a way that can actually “hide” contaminants and that the well monitoring network has never been capable of furnishing reliable monitoring data. The Mixed Waste Landfill contains an estimated 720,000 cubic ft. of radioactive and hazardous waste disposed of in unlined pits and trenches over a 30-year period.

Gilkeson stated that “NMED is on the right track with requiring replacement of four of the monitoring wells at the Mixed Waste Landfill. But, three more of the wells at the legacy waste dump also require replacement because they are in the wrong location, contaminated with drilling muds, or too deep to monitor at the water table for contamination beneath an unlined trench where 270,000 gallons of radioactive wastewater was disposed of.  There were never any monitoring wells at the Mixed Waste dump that were able to detect contaminants that may have already reached the ground water.  The MWL dump never had any monitoring wells that met requirements of state and federal law.” 

Gilkeson’s recommendations first came to light for Sandia beginning in May 2006.  In March of 2007 Citizen Action and Gilkeson requested that the US EPA conduct a review of the monitoring network at the Mixed Waste dump. 

According to Dave McCoy, Director of Citizen Action, “EPA entered into discussions with the Environment Department regarding our concerns and four new replacement wells were ordered.  However, the EPA Region 6 attempted to whitewash the extent of the problem and concluded there was no threat to the groundwater.  We are currently demanding and will receive an investigation of that EPA coverup.  The worthless groundwater monitoring data from these defective wells continues to be misrepresented by Sandia to allow the wastes to remain in place under a dirt cover.  There is no technical basis for the dirt cover.  The large number of defective wells in the NMED released report shows that the problem of detecting groundwater contamination at Sandia has not been in compliance with state and federal law.  The extent of groundwater contamination at Sandia is not properly understood to protect public and the environment.” 

NMED issued a permit to Sandia to cover the dump with 3 ft. of dirt -despite Sandia’s predictions that a cancer-causing solvent known as PCE will seep into Albuquerque’s drinking water by the year 2010.  In fact the groundwater may already be contaminated with PCE and the defective monitoring network has hidden this knowledge.   NMED has refused the 3 ft of dirt as a remedy to protect a similar but much smaller dump at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

Gilkeson said, “NMED should defer placing the dirt cover on the dump until reliable water quality data is collected from a new network of monitoring wells to investigate ground water contamination that may already exist.”   

Citizen Action is being sued by the Environment Department for its request for a TechLaw report regarding contamination that could reach groundwater from the Mixed Waste Landfill.  McCoy stated further, “Obtaining this list of defective wells at Sandia further underscores the importance of the public having full access to public records in this state.” 

Gilkeson cited similar problems with the network of monitoring wells installed at waste sites at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Recent reports by the Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Academy of Sciences support Gilkeson’s concerns for the monitoring wells at LANL.  These reports give further weight to Gilkeson’s concerns for the monitoring wells at Sandia.

The deficiencies found in the monitoring wells and sampling procedures for waste sites at both Sandia and LANL raise serious questions about the state’s and the labs’ ability to adequately protect the water resources of New Mexico.

The Mixed Waste dump is located adjacent to the Mesa del Sol, a residential development with plans to drill a series of wells to supply drinking water for future residents. 

To read the some of the numerous documents by Citizen Action and Robert H. Gilkeson submitted to the NMED concerning well monitoring network problems and the long-term plan for the Mixed Waste Landfill see the Citizen Action website at:  www.radfreenm.org. Citizen Action is a project of the New Mexico Community Foundation.

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May 1, 2008 at 08:10 AM in Environment, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Guest Blog: Mikhail Gorbachev in Santa Fe

This is a guest blog by Stephen Fox, alternative newspaper managing editor and gallery owner of Santa Fe, who participated in yesterday's press conference in Santa Fe featuring the former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. President Gorbachev also appeared at a fundraising dinner to benefit the Santa Fe Institute and Global Green USA, and spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Gorbachev2On Monday I asked former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev if, after November, he would please be so kind as to lead and advise the next USA President as to how to get out of our quagmire. This is Gorbachev's reply, through a translator:

“The Middle East is what the entire world is watching. If things go badly for the USA, things go badly for all of us. America must not abuse the trust it has from its allies, much of which has virtually stopped. I am glad to see in this election a resurgence of interest in international affairs. As I will say in my talk tonight, judging from the USA’s military budget, your nation seems to be at war with the world, and I sense that the American people don’t like this at all. The size of your weapons budget is larger than it was at the peak of the Cold War, and larger all of the rest of the nuclear nations put together. Why do you continue to build these weapons? This is amazing to me!

I think that [former Secretaries of State] George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, [former US Senator] Sam Nunn, and [former Secretary of Defense] William Perry have put together recently a very interesting plan in this regard, for which I appreciate their initiative.

With a background of conflict, military budgets in the USA continue to grow, and you produce more weapons. The next president must show courage and responsibility to resist increasing your arms expenditures. Most serious nations in the European Union are studying the proposal by Schultz and Kissinger, and the USA should heed this proposal.

You must bear in mind, that many nations find it difficult to trust America if it insists on maintaining its weapon superiority.

After January 1, 1986, when I proposed an abolition of Nuclear Weapons, there was an immediate reaction, that many didn’t trust me, because of the USSR’s massive ground forces and conventional weapons. I replied by making some large cuts in spending for conventional weapons, and eventually we signed a treaty in this context in Paris.

So I would put the same question to America and to Americans!”

*****

At the beginning of today’s Press Conference in Santa Fe, Gorbachev defended Putin’s concern over USA building extensive missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, but said that it was good that Bush and Putin took the time to recently meet, once before Bush leaves office.

He also stated that the USA needs to “elect a President who gets along with the world, and doesn’t brandish a big stick and make threats.”

This is “up to the American people to persuade its leaders, and this burden can’t be shouldered by others.” After 15 years of “pushing” since leaving office in 1992, Gorbachev now believes that most world leaders and heads of state are “lagging,” and that what we need next is “planetary glasnost.”

He is encouraged by the progress in Russia of the political party he started, the Union of Social Democrats, given that more than 100 nations have the same kind of party, the Social Democrats. He said the history of the USSR was a 70 year experiment with Communism in its extreme Bolshevik form, and that Russia had “paid the price” for doing so.

Gorbachev reminisced on Yeltsin being pressured by the International Monetary Fund and a few US Think Tanks which came to impose on Russia a free market approach, which did a lot of good. He called it the “Washington Consensus” that was really the opposite ideology and effect of Bolshevism.

*****

I have met and talked with several Nobel Peace Laureates, as well as several others I thought should have won that honorable prize. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 95 individuals and 20 organizations since 1901.

The Laureates I have exchanged extensive correspondence with include His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Kofi Annan. I have talked at great length with Jody Williams.  I asked Oscar Aria Sanchez, former-and-now-again President of Costa Rica, to help create a branch in Santa Fe of the United Nations University for Peace; Dag Hammarskjold’s nephew Knut was on the Board of Honorary Advisors of this conception, as was Gandhi’s grandson, Arun, and Einstein’s granddaughter, Evelyn. So was former USA Secretary of Interior, Stewart Udall.

As an organization making a huge difference in the world, Doctors without Borders is my highest inspiration daily in my work to get the neurotoxic and carcinogenic artificial sweetener, aspartame, off the market by rescinding its approval to be sold.

Mairead Corrigan of Ireland was the first Nobel Peace Laureate I talked with for several hours at the Second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1978. I also had a very long conversation with Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and I have always thought he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly, George Mc Govern deserves something like a Nobel Peace Prize, for his lifetime of pacifism.

Yet somehow, today, former President Mikhail Gorbachev was the most compelling. I am certain that because I was asking on behalf of tens of millions of Americans and several billions people in hundreds of nations, that he really will help to advise and guide the next USA President to bring the USA out of the Middle East, and to end the war in Iraq.

There really is no choice.

This is a guest blog by Stephen Fox of Santa Fe. Guest blogs provide our readers a chance to express themselves on topics of interest to the political discourse here, and may or may not express the views of the DFNM blog. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

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April 15, 2008 at 01:35 PM in Current Affairs, Environment, Government, Guest Blogger, International Relations, Iraq War, Middle East, Military Affairs, Nuclear Arms, Power, Peace | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Citizen Group Wins Federal Lawsuit Against NNSA for Unlawful Document Delays

From Citizen Action:
Citizen Action, a public interest group, received a victory in a federal lawsuit against the National Nuclear Security Agency/Albuquerque Operations Office (NNSA) for engaging “in a continuing pattern and practice of unlawful delay” in furnishing documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Brack states that “In light of the Kafkaesque review process adopted by Defendant, it is not surprising that the delay in this case stretched many months beyond the statutorily-prescribed time frame.” The decision describes a “labyrinthine process for reviewing FOIA requests” that does not justify the delays even for “situations involving national security, sensational, or complex issues.” The decision orders an agreement to be made between DOE and Citizen Action within 30 days for “responding to pending requests and for processing future requests.”

Citizen Action Attorney Richard Mietz, Santa Fe stated, “This is a complete vindication of my client’s right to receive information under the FOIA in a timely manner.” 

This is the second time in a year that Mr. Mietz has successfully persuaded a federal judge that the Albuquerque NNSA office engages in a pattern and practice of unlawful delay when responding to citizen requests for information about the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. 

The documents sought by Citizen Action seek a wide range of information about Sandia National Laboratories. Dating from requests going back to 2004, these include:

  • Ten-Year Site Plans for future activities at Sandia National Laboratories
  • High level radioactive waste and release of contamination from nuclear weapons production buried in a Cold War waste site known as the Mixed Waste Landfill and many illegal dumpsites referred to as “Yardholes” scattered about Sandia
  • Environmental information about groundwater monitoring, air monitoring, earthquake faulting, radioactive contamination of plants and animals at Sandia

Citizen Action Director, Dave McCoy stated, “This decision should send a strong message to NNSA’s management that NNSA can no longer use delay to create secrecy about Sandia’s dangerous operations. This decision acknowledges that provision of information may be useless if it is not timely. The public needs to obtain information for commenting on Sandia’s current plans. There is a Sandia facility wide permit request pending approval. That would include: open air burning of high explosive wastes; production of neutron generator tubes that leak tritium without air monitoring; leaving radioactive and toxic waste contamination in place without monitoring groundwater over our drinking water, and; Sandia’s plans for future nuclear weapons related production that will generate hundreds of thousands of pounds of hazardous and radioactive waste.”

The decision also builds on and goes beyond an earlier federal FOIA decision in favor of Nuclear Watch in Santa Fe. The Citizen Action decision sets forth a requirement to avoid future violations and to timely furnish the documents from over ten outstanding Citizen Action FOIA requests. Judge Brack cited language from the Nuclear Watch case that “observed this process ‘makes a mockery of the 20-day target set by FOIA and violates congressional intent.’”   

Citizen Action continues to also battle with the New Mexico Environment Department lawsuit to obtain a 2006 TechLaw report about contamination at the MWL. The Environment Department is suing Citizen Action in state court to keep the report secret. McCoy said, “One can only question what the Environment Department hopes to achieve by suing a public interest organization instead of the polluter.” The New Mexico Supreme Court recently denied a request for a stay on the release of the TechLaw report to the Attorney General and Citizen Action’s attorney.

April 2, 2008 at 09:34 AM in Energy, Environment, Government, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Learn How to Bird-Dog in NM

From the groups listed below:
In these upcoming elections we have the opportunity to have a great effect on our local and national political landscape. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, all eyes will be on New Mexico in 2008! We are a presidential swing state with four congressional seats up for election. Special interest groups, personnel and money are flowing in. We the people need to be the ones who will bring the important New Mexico issues to the forefront.

To make sure your issues are front and center on election day, learn how to effectively "bird-dog." Arnie Alpert from the American Friends Service Committee will be coming to New Mexico to give three training events. The term "bird-dogging" means following candidates and tracking their positions in order to make sure that the issues important to you are part of the campaign agenda and in the forefront of media coverage. This is a great opportunity to learn a technique to raise public awareness and shift the political will in the direction of peace, sustainability, nuclear abolition. The training events will be in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque:

Taos: Friday, April 4th
Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Board Room
1118 Cruz Alta Road
Registration at 5:30 PM and closes at 8:00 PM

Santa Fe: Saturday, April 5th
Registration at 2:00 PM and closes at 5:00 PM
Santa Fe Unitarian Universalist Church on Barcelona

Albuquerque: Sunday, April 6th
Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center
202 Harvard Southeast
Registration at 5:00 PM and closes at 7:30 PM

Suggested donation - $10

For more information contact:

April 1, 2008 at 01:28 PM in Environment, Events, Local Politics, Nuclear Arms, Power, Peace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Attend Public Hearings in NM to Fight Nuke Weapon Production

These meetings provide an opportunity to express your concerns and ask questions about various aspects of the new DOE draft upgrade plan, including the renewed production of plutonium pits. See below for how you can submit your comments if you can't attend one or more of the hearings.

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently published its newest draft plan to upgrade the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex and recreate the infrastructure to research, develop, and manufacture new nuclear weapons. First announced in 2006 as Complex 2030, the new plan is now called Complex Transformation.

I am writing to encourage you to attend one or more public hearings in New Mexico on Complex Transformation. These hearings are a part of a legally required review of the environmental impacts of the DOE’s plans; the review is called a draft Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS). While applauding efforts at consolidating and eliminating redundant capabilities within the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, the Union of Concerned Scientists opposes the elements of Complex Transformation that would return the United States to the production of new nuclear weapons. Click here for the draft SPEIS.

Hearings Info

March 10, 2008, 6-10 PM
Socorro, New Mexico
Macey Center (at New Mexico Tech), 801 Leroy Place

March 11, 2008 - 11 AM-3 PM AND 6-10 PM
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque Convention Center, 401 2nd Street, NW

March 12, 2008 - 6-10 PM
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Hilltop House, 400 Trinity Drive at Central

March 13, 2008 - 11 AM - 3PM
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Hilltop House, 400 Trinity Drive at Central

Santa Fe, New Mexico - 6-10 PM
Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road

As you likely know, New Mexico is home to two nuclear weapons research facilities, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. Under Complex Transformation, the role of Los Alamos in particular would grow, most notably with a new and unnecessary facility to annually produce up to 80 plutonium “pits,” the primary explosive component of a nuclear weapon. The United States has thousands of pits in storage and does not need to produce new ones. 

The New Mexico hearings are part of the SPEIS process. It provides the public with an opportunity to present comments or concerns, ask questions, and raise a range of issues. We encourage you to attend one or more of these hearings and tell the DOE that the United States should not be expanding its pit production capacity at Los Alamos nor return to the business of making new nuclear weapons. Instead, any major changes at Los Alamos or the nation’s nuclear weapons complex must be preceded by a comprehensive re-evaluation of the role and future of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy.

A thorough re-evaluation would conclude that it is in the interest of the United States to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons. The DOE should focus on maintaining a safe, secure, and credible nuclear deterrent while supporting efforts to eliminate these weapons globally, and on dismantling warheads and safely securing weapons-grade materials. The United States should NOT pursue new nuclear weapons.

If you cannot attend the hearing, I strongly encourage you to submit comments on the Complex Transformation draft SPEIS proposal (by April 10, 2008) by fax, letter. or on our website. You can send them to:

Mr. Theodore Wyka
Complex Transformation SPEIS Document Manager
Office of Transformation, NA-10.1
U.S. Department of Energy/NNSA
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
by fax—1-703-931-9222
or on our website

Please mark your letters, faxes, or emails “Complex Transformation SPEIS Comments.”

If you are planning to attend the hearing and need assistance or have questions, please do not hesitate to call or email me at [email protected] or 617-301-8065. Also, if you do attend, please let me know and call or email me with any feedback or information that may come out of the hearing and could be relevant to our work on the issue.

Sincerely,
Sean Meyer
Project Manager, U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy Initiative
National Field Organizer, Global Security Program
Union of Concerned Scientists

March 10, 2008 at 05:37 PM in Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

ACTION ALERT: Urge Gov. Richardson to Veto Damaging Uranium Cleanup Bill

Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), alongside the Southwest Research Information Center (SRIC) and many other environmental justice organizations, fought hard against uranium mining industry-friendly legislation throughout the 2008 New Mexico State Legislative Session, only to see SB487 (Ulibarri) become the final bill to be voted upon during the closing minutes of the session.

If signed in to law, SB487 would create an industry-biased source for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines because it ties cleanup of mining sites to production from new uranium mining and mills -- which many residents of impacted communities oppose. The bill would also absolve companies that created abandoned uranium mines from responsibility, and pre-empt efforts to inventory abandoned uranium mines and their past operators, and develop recommendations for a state Superfund for abandoned uranium mines.

The organizations are now encouraging New Mexicans to contact Governor Bill Richardson (505-476-2200) to veto the legislation in lieu of a critical analysis to understand clean-up needs and the industry's impact on New Mexican communities' health. For more information, please contact Leona Morgan, of ENDAUM at [email protected].

According to a call to action issued by SAGE Council:

SB 487/a is disguised as a uranium cleanup bill, but only invites uranium companies to reopen their mines and add to the already devastating affects to both the environment and the health of the people. The bill, sponsored by Senator Ulibarri, passed the Senate floor just minutes before the session ended. Please call the Governor and ask him to VETO THIS BAD URANIUM BILL!

February 19, 2008 at 11:40 AM in Energy, Environment, NM Legislature 2008, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Santa Fe City Council Passes Peace and Plutonium Resolutions

As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Santa Fe City Council last week passed resolutions regarding plutonium pit production by Los Alamos National Lab and the celebration of Mother's Day by the city.

One resolution directs the city clerk to inform federal authorities of the city's opposition to the production of plutonium pits by LANL in line with the National Nuclear Security Administration's recently released draft environmental impact statement. According to the resolution, the transformation would result in releases of hazardous and radioactive waste in the area.

The second resolution will return Mother's Day to its original mission, with a peace rally on the Plaza this May 11th and every Mother's Day going forward. The national holiday was established in 1870 at the urging of Julia Ward Howe, a feminist abolitionist, who wrote it should be an occasion to encourage women to "solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace," according to the resolution.

February 19, 2008 at 08:45 AM in Local Politics, Nuclear Arms, Power, Peace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Groups Sue Los Alamos National Lab for Clean Water Act Violations

From Amigos Bravos:
On February 7th, 2008, Amigos Bravos, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Don Gabino Andrade Community Acequia Association, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group, New Mexico Acequia Association, Partnership for Earth Spirituality, Río Grande Restoration, SouthWest Organizing Project, Gilbert Sanchez, Kathy Sanchez, and Tewa Women United filed a lawsuit against Los Alamos National Laboratory for violations of the Clean Water Act. To download the full complaint click here.

On May 23, 2006, Amigos Bravos and its partners filed a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory for violations of the Clean Water Act.

LANL has a 63 year legacy of toxic and radionuclide discharges and dumping in the canyons below the lab, as well as over 2,000 solid waste dumps on site. Radioactive liquid wastes were unknown on the Pajarito Plateau before Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began operations in 1943. LANL’s initial management decision was to discharge these untreated wastes into Los Alamos and Pueblo Canyons, despite warnings that such discharges would accumulate and lead to highly contaminated conditions in the canyons and, conceivably, in the Río Grande.

Sixty-three years later, LANL is still discharging liquid wastes into canyons below the lab – on December 23rd, 2005, LANL reported that chromium was detected in the regional aquifer supplying Los Alamos County with drinking water and that discharges into Mortandad Canyon were a possible source.

Based on four sampling trips along the Río Grande and in canyons below LANL, third-party analyses of the hydrology of the Pajarito Plateau and LANL’s well-drilling program, NMED sampling and analyses, and recent LANL revelations, LANL Water Watch is focusing on five core issues regarding LANL impacts on water:

  • Chromium (the same toxic pollutant as shown in the Erin Brockovitch movie) detected in the Los Alamos regional aquifer;
  • PCBs detected in extraordinarily high concentrations in soil samples from LANL and also found in fish in the Río Chama and Río Grande watersheds resulting in the first ever fish advisory for the Río Grande;
  • Perchlorate (a toxic pollutant used in explosives) detected in one drinking well by Los Alamos County leading to its closure;
  • Area G , where LANL has always and continues to bury low-level radioactive waste in unlined pits, shafts and trenches and which LANL is proposing to expand;
  • Environmental Cleanup Budget Cuts proposed for FY07 that would reduce cleanup funding at LANL by 36%, jeopardizing LANL’s Cleanup Consent Order with the New Mexico Environment Department.

Click Here to Download the LANL Discharge Report (4.8 MB pdf)

February 8, 2008 at 11:02 AM in Environment, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tonight: SWM Meeting on Nuke Weapons in ABQ

From Charles Powell of Stop the War Machine:
Come learn about the largest concentration of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, right here in Albuquerque. And the effort to get them dismantled. Wednesday evening, January 9th, at 7 PM in the Greenbriar Townhouse Co-op clubhouse meeting room, 1212 Nakomis Dr NE. (near Tramway, Constitution & Indian School) If you have questions please phone Charles at 271-9274.

January 9, 2008 at 01:54 PM in Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Citizen Action Files Counter Lawsuit Against NM Environment Department for Secret Documents

From Citizen Action: Citizen Action, an Albuquerque-based public interest group, today filed a counter lawsuit in the New Mexico Court of Appeals against the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) charging that the state violated the Public Information Act and Open Meetings Act by failing to provide secret reports about Sandia Laboratories’ Mixed Waste Landfill. The landfill, a Cold War legacy waste dump containing 700,000 cu ft of radioactive and hazardous waste, is situated above Albuquerque’s sole source drinking water aquifer. 

"The New Mexico Environment Department has a habit of trying to quell dissent and debate, both inside and outside the Department," said Nancy Simmons, attorney for Citizen Action. "Now that the Attorney General has ordered them to provide heretofore secret documents to Citizen Action about what they're doing or not doing to clean up the hazardous and radioactive waste dump at Sandia Labs, the Department has turned around and sued Citizen Action. This is apparently in an effort to get my client to back down. It won't work. The citizens of New Mexico have an absolute right to observe their government in action. Citizen Action will go to court today to protect that right. The TechLaw reports they're protecting from public view were paid for by tax dollars; we all have a right to see what we bought."

The TechLaw reports were used by NMED to examine computer modeling showing that radioactive and hazardous wastes will leak into the groundwater at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill. 

Robert Gilkeson, registered geologist, stated that “NMED and Sandia have known since 1991 that they do not have a well monitoring system at the dump capable of detecting contamination. All computer models predict contamination will hit the groundwater. Sandia and NMED have not gone the next step to install monitoring wells at the hot spots. Instead of validating the models with real data, NMED and Sandia are manipulating assumptions in complex computer models to cover up a wrongheaded decision to leave these long-lived wastes in place under a dirt cover.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) describes the low cost dirt cover as “Environmental Stewardship.”  However, a report by the National Academies of Science describes this stewardship as “providing unacceptable risks to people and the environment.” The report states:

“Stewardship (covering waste with dirt and instituting institutional controls) of waste sites will be difficult if not impossible to achieve.

“At many sites hazardous wastes will remain posing risks to people and the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years.

“No plan developed today is likely to remain protective for the duration of the hazards.”

Citizen Action’s Director, Dave McCoy, stated that “NMED apparently is unwilling to make decisions about the dump in the broad daylight of public scrutiny. With global warming and coming water shortages, DOE and NMED should protect Albuquerque’s groundwater by excavating the dump’s toxic wastes. They failed to order cleanup at Los Alamos and now there is plutonium in Santa Fe’s drinking water.  They should pay attention to the public demand to clean up the Sandia dump with its plutonium, instead of shooting the messenger.” 

Over the last year, Citizen Action filed agency complaints that the dump has monitoring wells that cannot detect contamination because they are out of place with damaged well screens in violation of federal law.  Citizen Action discovered that no capable wells or soil gas monitoring systems were in place to detect contamination during Sandia’s recent use of heavy compaction equipment over fragile waste containers in the dump.  Citizen Action found out from other information requests that: the installation of part of the soil cover proceeded without an approved plan; berms built to protect the soil cover construction were breached from storm water; the storm water pathway away from the dump is not analyzed and lab samples were lost.  Citizen Action along with a coalition of other Albuquerque based organizations and individuals filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency that NMED is shutting the public out of its right to review and comment on documents and decisions about the dump and the long-term monitoring network plan.

For more information contact Citizen Action New Mexico: (505) 262-1862 or visit the Citizen Action website at www.radfreenm.org.

See our previous post about the law suit filed against Citizen Action by the NM Environment Department and this one about Citizen Action's previous Notice of Intent to sue the NMED and others for allowing the illegal operation of the Mixed Waste Landfill.

November 12, 2007 at 10:08 PM in Environment, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (0)