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Important upcoming events; Governor Martinez seeks to bring *all* US spent nuclear fuel to NM

Aug 11, 2016

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This letter is about:

  1. Upcoming events in Albuquerque
  2. Upcoming events in Santa Fe
  3. GAO report on Los Alamos plutonium production construction plans, updated LASG press release, articles
  4. Daily or semi-weekly crisis updates -- ask me if you want to get them
  5. Governor seeks storage of *all* current US commercial nuclear reactor waste

Dear friends --

  1. Upcoming events in Albuquerque (see also calendar):
    1. Video ("White Light, Black Rain"), Skype conversation with Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori and discussion, Thursday 8/11/16, 7:00 pm, Astrid Webster's house, 901 Solano Dr. NE (map)
    2. More or less weekly actions, congressional visits, discussions
    3. Talk and discussion with Greg Mello, Unitarian Fellowship, 9/4/16, 11:00 am, Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center, 202 Harvard SE (map), "In a Dark Time, the Eye Begins to See"
    4. Talk and discussion with Dr. Frank von Hippel, Thursday 9/29/16, 6:30 pm, UNM Student Union Building (SUB, map), "New Directions in Nuclear Disarmament"
    5. Talk and discussion with John LaForge, "Nuclear Heartland: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States," Monday 10/3/16, Los Alamos Study Group, 2901 Summit Place NE (map)
    6. Fall 2016 visiting lecture/video and discussion series, Thursday evenings 10/20/16 and Friday evening 11/10/16 -- mark your calendars

Regarding b., we and allied organizations will be hosting and/or conducting more or less weekly actions, congressional visits, and discussions in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We are quietly preparing for some of these now and look forward to working with you on these occasions, some of which we will announce in the coming days after discussions with some of you and with allied organizations. We will not necessarily be emailing in advance to a large list every planned action we might take! So if you want to be involved, get involved! Meanwhile, we have recently sent you a list of suggested actions. We did not spell out the content. You have to provide that, I'm afraid. For background please see the links above to local letters like this one, bulletins, our blog, etc. That's why we had our recent teach-ins and why we prepare bulletins, letters, press releases, and so on. They are tools for you.

We are acutely conscious that we are entering a time of converging crises, including what we believe will be a severe economic downturn (gradual or in sudden steps, we have no idea) and additional wars (such as the one we just restarted in Libya). There is already a push for more aggressive wars in Syria, Ukraine, East Asia and the South China Sea, and elsewhere under President Hillary Clinton. The propaganda groundwork for these wars is being laid and thickened every day. (See for example today's "Media Builds Up Enemies For Hillary's Wars" at the well-regarded Moon of Alabama blog).

Greg will be in Washington in late August to work on issues related to nuclear weapons modernization, war prevention, and other issues. Trish and Greg will be at the First Committee of the UN in New York in mid-October, helping our colleagues and board members further efforts toward negotiations of a treaty banning nuclear weapons, being discussed in Geneva this month. We also have a short vacation to see family in mid-September. The schedule above reflects these trips. We are working as fast as we can now in preparation for the two "decision-maker education," aka lobbying, trips.

  1. Upcoming events in Santa Fe
    1. Talk and discussion with Dr. Frank von Hippel, Wednesday 9/29/16, 6:30 pm, Center for Spiritual Living (CSL), 505 Camino De Los Marquez (map), "New Directions in Nuclear Disarmament"
    2. Fall 2016 visiting lecture/video and discussion series, CSL (map), Friday evenings 10/21/16 and 11/11/16 -- mark your calendars
    3. More or less weekly actions, congressional visits, discussions

Please see the discussion above! There will definitely be more or less weekly meetings and actions in August and September but we haven't organized them yet. For the latest updates contact Trish (email, 505-265-1200 office, 505-577-3366 cell) or Lydia Clark (email, 505-501-2606 cell).

  1. GAO report on Los Alamos plutonium production construction plans, updated LASG press release, articles

Our updated press release on this important but complex report with more references and discussion in the footnotes is here: "Congressional auditors flay Los Alamos plutonium plans," Aug 10, 2016.

The GAO report: "NNSA Needs to Clarify Requirements for Its Plutonium Analysis Project at Los Alamos," Aug 2016. The language in this report is about as caustic as GAO can be, given its audience and style limitations.

Article by Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican, Aug 9, 2016: "LANL’s nuclear bomb trigger production questioned".

A Journal North article will appear tomorrow here.

We will be educating lawmakers in Washington with this material and much more. Dear friends, we can defeat this proposal. Please help us and work with us.

  1. Daily or semi-weekly crisis updates -- ask me if you want to get them

Every morning we sift through several news aggregators and web sites for the most crucial news and analysis of the day on several related topics of importance. We send a small subset of what we think are the most important intelligence items to a small internal list, often with short comments, or excerpts highlighted. We have decided, on a trial basis, to offer this service to a wider group. If you are interested please write to me. This will be a closed list, like the lists above which received this email. Your name and email will not be visible to others. Subscribers cannot post comments except back to me. I can only do this if it turns out to be very efficient, time-wise. We hope by doing this we will better inform and inspire, and build the strong community we will need.

  1. Governor seeks storage of *all* current US commercial nuclear reactor waste

You want to know this if you do not already. From the Exchange Monitor Morning Briefing, August 11, 2016: "Interim Storage a ‘Major Priority’ for New Mexico, Outgoing Environment Chief Says":

Departing New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn made it clear last week: the administration of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) welcomes interim storage of high-level nuclear waste from U.S. power plants.

Holtec International in November plans to submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 70,000-metric-ton-capacity disposal facility to be located about 10 miles from the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) transuranic waste-disposal facility near Carlsbad.

“We really want that facility,” Flynn told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing in an Aug. 2 phone interview. “We feel very good about the people we have working on it. The relationship with Holtec is strong.”

Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists got the jump on Holtec by filing its license application with the NRC in April for a 40,000-metric-ton facility in West Texas not far from the New Mexico border. The NRC license review is expected to take two years or more.

Flynn will step down Friday after five years in the Martinez administration, the last three-and-a-half as New Mexico’s top environmental regulator. In the past, Flynn has played down the state’s interest in interim storage, sticking to well-socialized language about how New Mexico should focus on reopening WIPP before thinking about any other type of nuclear waste facility. The storage site has been closed since a fire and subsequent, unrelated radiation release in February 2014.

While Flynn, on the cusp of what will be at least a hiatus from public life, was ready to look beyond the WIPP reopening, other New Mexico politicians with statewide constituencies were not.

“No matter where it’s built, whether the site is in Southeastern New Mexico or anywhere else in the U.S., I don’t support creating a new interim disposal site without a plan for permanent disposal because nuclear waste could be orphaned there indefinitely,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) wrote in a statement emailed to Weapons Complex Morning Briefing on Tuesday. “I also believe that it’s far too early to talk about interim nuclear storage in New Mexico while the state and the Department of Energy are still addressing the WIPP accident and radiation release.”

The Obama administration in 2011 canceled plans for a deep geologic repository for nuclear waste, officially replacing it in late 2015 with a “consent-based” plan that envisions establishing a pilot storage facility by 2021; one or more larger, interim facilities for spent nuclear fuel by 2025; and at least one permanent geologic repository by 2048.

Last year, Udall and fellow New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich issued a joint statement opposing interim nuclear waste storage in the Land of Enchantment. This year, the senators have been largely spared from taking a public stance on interim storage, although both voted for a fiscal 2017 energy and water spending bill that directs the Energy Department to conduct a pilot project for interim waste storage “through 1 or more private sector partners.”

A Heinrich spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment this week.

WIPP closed to new waste shipments after an improperly packaged barrel of radio-contaminated material and equipment from the Los Alamos National Laboratory some 300 miles north burst open in the mine. The Department of Energy recently acknowledged the mine might not reopen in December as announced in February. Nevertheless, the agency’s latest public schedule for WIPP recovery shows DOE only months, not years, behind.

Yet even if WIPP reopens in December, any action on interim storage, whether in New Mexico or elsewhere, will likely wait until after the dust settles from the U.S. presidential election, Flynn thinks. Along with the White House, some Washington watchers believe control of the U.S. Senate may be up for grabs again.

“Time is working against us a little bit,” Flynn said. “I think that decision’s probably going to span over to the next presidential administration. So there’s always the risk that as people kind of step into new roles and have to get themselves back up to speed, that could delay action.”

Nevertheless, the outgoing secretary said, interim waste storage is “another major priority” for the state government.

This is a lot of nuclear waste. It contains (for example) more than 20 times the cesium-137 that was released in ALL the atmospheric nuclear tests ever conducted. If this waste comes here, we believe it will almost certainly never leave.

More on this and other New Mexico nuclear waste proposals and realities must wait for another time (and would be a good discussion topic). Meanwhile we must realize that there cannot be a positive future for the state -- or the country -- if the military, the labs, and the civilian nuclear (waste) industry have their way here. We don't intend to let that happen.

Thanks again to all,

Greg, Trish, Valentina and the rest of the gang


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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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