Press Advisory 3/3/06
100+ NM Organizations, Others Call for Nuclear Disarmament,
Halt to Nuclear Waste Disposal at LANL
Contact: Greg Mello 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563 (cell)
On Monday, March 6, at 11:00 am, the Los Alamos Study Group will host a press conference in the State Capitol Rotunda on to announce achievement of a new milestone in its Call for Nuclear Disarmament campaign: more than 100 New Mexico organizations have endorsed the Call.
Displays will be presented and handouts will be available; there will be plenty of time for questions (see box).
For details of the Call and lists of endorsers, see www.lasg.org.
The Call for Nuclear Disarmament demands: 1) no further production of plutonium bomb cores (“pits;” the U.S. now has about 23,000 of these), 2) that the U.S. achieve mutual nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as required, and 3) that the nuclear waste disposal sites at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) be closed. It also includes a clear rejection of nuclear deterrence as a security doctrine and calls for a different security paradigm, one oriented toward human and environmental security.
In addition to these New Mexico organizations, 286 New Mexico businesses and 80 national and international organizations together with the City of Santa Fe have endorsed the Call. Approximately 2,500 individuals have also endorsed along the way, although the Study Group’s volunteers have emphasized institutional rather than individual endorsement.
The City of Taos and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Northern New Mexico Citizen Advisory Board (NNMCAB) have formally recommended that LANL’s nuclear dump be closed rather than expanded as planned, an important element of the Call. The Los Alamos County (LAC) Council has likewise expressed its concern about the planned expansion of nuclear waste disposal in Los Alamos.
Prior to this year, approximately 3,840 New Mexicans had petitioned governors Johnson and Richardson to close Area G in the “Can-Paign” to halt nuclear disposal in northern New Mexico, with most paying $3 to convey their wishes on a can of food with a “nuclear waste” label. These petitions included a formal request for nuclear dump closure under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the controlling law under which LANL once held an interim disposal permit for all of Technical Area (TA-) 54, including Area G and other nearby nuclear and chemical waste disposal areas.
Study Group Director Mello: “Passing the important milestone of 100 organizations and nonprofits is primarily an achievement of Study Group volunteers. It’s a testimony to the hard work and initiative of a lot of people and a testimony to their civic engagement and active concern about the future. Other organizations are now looking at the Call with fresh eyes as the reality of the proposed nuclear weapon renaissance sinks in – along with what it would mean for our economic development, our security, and our environment.”
“In the process, we’ve learned some things. One is that it’s harder to get people’s attention in our information- and advertising-choked culture than it is to talk them into strongly condemning nuclear weapons. The fact that these weapons of mass destruction are one of the state’s largest industries doesn’t hold people back as much as I thought it would. The really hard part is getting peoples’ attention.
“Another thing we’ve learned is that leadership on this issue and a few others doesn’t seem to be coming from some of the places you’d expect. So fresh leadership is needed. As our society careens into the converging crises of the 21st century, the field of leadership is very much wide open.”
Fatima Portugal, Study Group Outreach Coordinator commented: “The Call for Nuclear Disarmament paves a path for active citizen involvement. We can do so not only as individuals, but as groups working together to create a future where our environment, our homes, our children, and our families do not have to be threatened by the hazards of nuclear waste dumping nor from the possibility of total mass destruction. Our future lies in what we do now. If we are to live in a civilized world, we must create it by sustaining the values of trust and upholding our promises. The United States signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] where
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and of a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. [NPT, Article VI]
If we expect other countries to disarm, then we must do so as well. We must take the first steps.”
Damon Hill, Study Group research associate, added: “"How is funding a new generation of nuclear weapons really making anybody safer? It shifts not only the focus but the commitment of funding away from providing for real human needs. New Mexico faces persistent problems of poverty and sticking a new pit production facility here is no real remedy. The jobs may look nice at first but the long term costs are greater. Closing the dump is a step in the right direction, and a step that is in sync with the stated desire of numerous northern New Mexicans."