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Full Event Recording: Bob Alvarez Lifetime Achievement Award Party

View the live recording of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) honoring Bob Alvarez with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, March 19, 2022!

Also take a look at this kudoboard where we’ve collected stories and gratitude for Bob!

Robert (Bob) Alvarez is one of the bedrock founders of the national movement to unmask the human and environmental carnage that resulted directly from the US production of a massive nuclear arsenal.

Bob helped found the Environmental Policy Institute in the mid-1970’s. He is an intrepid researcher, author, investigator, professor, and an unflagging resource to dozens of organizations around the nation. Bob always was and remains today an ally (and sometimes an accomplice) of grassroots efforts to hold the nuclear power and weapons establishment accountable.

Bob was one of the first to document the impacts of nuclear weapons and power production on front-line workers in his 1982 book, Killing Our Own. He helped organize the Atomic Veterans hearings when Congress turned its back on the thousands of soldiers deliberately marched into the fallout from live nuclear weapons tests. He and his wife Kitty Tucker worked tirelessly to reveal the story behind the killing of Karen Silkwood, and to seek justice for Karen and her family.

Bob served for five years as a Senior Investigator for the U. S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, chaired by Senator John Glenn, and as one of the Senate’s primary staff experts on the U.S. nuclear programs. While serving for Senator Glenn, Bob worked to help establish the environmental cleanup program in the Department of Energy, strengthened the Clean Air Act, uncovered several serious nuclear safety and health problems, improved medical radiation regulations, and created a transition program for communities and workers affected by the closure of nuclear weapons facilities.

Between 1993 and 1999, Bob served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment. While at DOE, he coordinated the effort to enact nuclear worker compensation legislation. He also compelled the release of critical information, long withheld from the public, about the impacts of nuclear testing. In 1994 and 1995, Bob led teams in North Korea to establish control of nuclear weapons materials. He coordinated nuclear material strategic planning for the department and established the department’s first asset management program. Bob was awarded two Secretarial Gold Medals, the highest awards given by the department.

Bob authored numerous groundbreaking reports on the potentially devastating impacts of nuclear power and waste including irradiated fuel pool risks and the dangers of consolidated “interim” storage and continues to serve as an expert witness for intervenors.

Since his retirement from the Energy Department, Bob has continued to address nuclear safety issues. He continues to work at the Institute for Policy Studies and the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has taught a nuclear history course at Johns Hopkins, continues to write reports and articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and elsewhere.

Why You Should Care about the Expanding WIPP Mission

‘More than 1,000’ New Mexicans call State to oppose plutonium plan at nuclear waste site

Cindy Weehler gave a powerful speech during the March 1, 2022 press conference at the New Mexico Capitol about why you should care about the expanding mission for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  People are opposing the Department of Energy (DOE) WIPP expansion plans that violate the law.  We provide Weehler’s speech below.

Weehler is Co-Chair of 285 ALL, a neighborhood issues awareness group based south of Interstate 25.  Before the press conference, she presented over 1,100 petition signatures to the Governor’s Office.  The petition reads:

Petition to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexicans call on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to stand up for public health and the environment by stopping the expansion of the nuclear waste facility called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico.

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Texas ‘downwinders’ should be eligible for nuclear radiation compensation, advocates say

Congress is considering a bill to pay more people who were harmed by nuclear development, but the legislation still excludes some Texans who saw fallout firsthand.

By Michael Marks January 12, 2022 12:09 pm Government & PoliticsTexas Standard Original

Istra Fuhrmann is a nuclear policy advocate for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. She spoke to the Texas Standard about the bill and its provisions. Listen to the interview with Fuhrmann in the audio player above or read the transcript below (following photo).

A bill to compensate more people who were harmed by U.S. nuclear development is moving through Congress. But advocates say that it still leaves out people who were affected by nuclear radiation.

Under proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, eligible people would get $150,000 from the federal government. That includes uranium miners from Texas, but not “downwinders”: people who lived down wind from nuclear test sites.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

Texas Standard: You recently co-wrote an opinion piece in the El Paso Times [other co-author: Lon Burnam, convener of The Peace Farm board] about a piece of federal legislation called the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act amendments. Tell us what that bill proposes to do.

Istra Fuhrmann: First, I’ll just share a little bit of background information about what’s known as RECA, that original 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. This is legislation that, as you mentioned, compensates Americans who developed cancers when they were unknowingly exposed to radiation through U.S. nuclear weapons activities. Unfortunately, it left out the world’s very first down-winders, as they’re known – local civilian populations who lived near and were exposed to large amounts of radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests.

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Nuclear Fallout Ignores State Lines

EL PASO TIMES / Lon Burnam [Convener of The Peace Farm Board] and Istra Fuhrmann – Guest columnists

Early in the morning of July 16, 1945, native El Pasoan Barbara Kent was thrown out of her bunk bed at dance camp.

Just 13 years of age, she had traveled to Ruidoso, New Mexico, to learn ballet, unwittingly only a short distance from the site of the first nuclear weapons test. After the explosion awakened her, she says the camp owner came running in to tell the young girls to head outside, where the sky had turned from dark to blindingly bright.

Barbara Kent describes playing in pleasantly warm snow improbably falling in July, grabbing it in her hands and rubbing it on her face. Decades later, she realized that this “snow” had been radioactive fallout from the atomic blast. Today, she is the only survivor from the camp – all the other girls passed away from cancers before the age of 30.

El Paso is less than 150 miles from the epicenter of the nuclear bomb detonation known as the Trinity Test. While Kent happened to be in New Mexico that day, she was not the only Texan exposed to dangerous radiation levels. According to U.S. Census data, between 100,000-130,000 people lived in El Paso during the blast. Nuclear fallout from the explosion settled over thousands of square miles and exposed locals to radiation levels 10,000 times higher than what is currently allowed.

Crowds gather around a monument marking ground zero of the first atomic explosion in the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The site, known as Trinity Site, is opened to the public twice a year.

Unfortunately, many of our state’s lawmakers in Congress do not see radiation exposure as a Texas issue. They have not treated the problem with the urgency it is due. It’s time to acknowledge this historical wrong and compensate Texans and New Mexicans suffering from life-threatening illnesses due to nuclear weapons activities.

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Texas is one step closer to housing tons of nuclear waste. What that means for DFW


Outside of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Arlington office on Monday, a dozen protesters spoke out against what they saw as the inevitable: The commission was going to approve a federal permit to transport high-level nuclear waste through Dallas-Fort Worth on its way to a West Texas facility.

Hours later, that prediction came true. After years of debate and legal filings, the NRC granted a license to Interim Storage Partners, which seeks to build an “interim storage facility” for high-level nuclear waste, also known as spent nuclear fuel, in Andrews, Texas.

“We truly want to emphasize that we’ve expected to lose this round,” said Lon Burnam, who has organized several protests as the chair of the Tarrant Coalition for Environmental Awareness. “And we are ready for the next round, which will be just as important.”

Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists is partnering with Orano USA to expand an existing plant in Andrews with hopes of holding up to 40,000 metric tons of nuclear waste at the facility. Each expansion phase will require an amendment to the permit along with additional safety and environmental reviews, according to the NRC.

Under the terms of the current permit, up to 5,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste and about 231 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste can be stored for 40 years at the facility near the Texas-New Mexico border. The waste could be held there until it’s moved to a permanent repository, which does not currently exist and continues to be a key issue for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The waste poses potentially harmful effects to humans and only decreases in radioactivity through decay, which can take hundreds of thousands of years, according to the NRC, which regulates nuclear power plants and the storage and disposal of waste.

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Texas bans storage of highly radioactive waste, but a West Texas facility may get a license from the feds anyway

The new law may soon be in conflict with federal regulators. A decision from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on one company’s license could come as early as Monday.

BY ERIN DOUGLAS SEPT. 10, 2021 texastribune.org

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday night signed a bill into law that attempts to block a plan to store highly radioactive nuclear waste at a site in West Texas.

House Bill 7 effectively bans highly radioactive materials from coming to Texas, targeting one company’s plan to build such a facility near the New Mexico border in Andrews County.

But, the new state law may soon be in conflict with federal regulators. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is advancing the company’s application for a license to allow the high-level nuclear waste to Texas, and a decision from the federal agency could come as early as Monday, a spokesperson with the commission said.

For years, environmental and consumer advocates have protested a proposal by a West Texas company, Waste Control Specialists, to build with a partner an interim storage site for high-level nuclear waste, which is mostly spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Waste Control Specialists has been disposing of the nation’s low-level nuclear waste, including tools, building materials and protective clothing exposed to radioactivity, for a decade in Andrews County.

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Texas Legislature votes against nuclear waste dumping in rare bipartisan agreement

“These strong bipartisan votes are a clear message from the Texas Legislature to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that when it comes to storage of deadly radioactive waste in Texas, we don’t want it. We hope the bill will provide the safety protections Texans need and prevent unnecessary transportation risks nationwide.”

SEED Coalition Director Karen Hadden.

ORIGINALLY BY: Erin Coulehan KTSM News Sep 7, 2021

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Texas Legislature voted against dumping nuclear waste in West Texas.

Members of the Texas Legislature demonstrated staunch opposition to the storage of high-level radioactive waste in West Texas in an almost unanimous vote. 

The Texas Senate approved House Bill 7 (HB 7), which cleared the House by a margin of 119-3 marking a rare moment of bipartisan agreement at the state Capitol. 

The bill implements a ban on high-level radioactive waste that includes spent nuclear fuel in Texas.

The legislation sought to demonstrate opposition to a pending license application before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and directed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to deny state permits for the project.

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Protesting Nuclear Weapons in New Mexico

On Friday, August 6th, Peace Farm members Lon Burnam and Sophia Stroud took part in the weekly protest with several other groups in Santa Fe against LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe. The protest is held Every Friday from noon to 1 pm at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda.

If you’re able to, please JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others in the future! Banners are available but please also bring a sign.

The Secret ‘White Trains’ That Carried Nuclear Weapons Around the U.S.

For as long as the United States has had nuclear weapons, officials have struggled with how to transport the destructive technology.

The epicenter of nuclear transit was the Pantex Plant, about 17 miles outside of downtown Amarillo, Texas, a maze-like complex of dozens of buildings located on 10,000 acres of land. Amarillo was the final destination for almost all of America’s nuclear trains and the Pantex Plant was the nation’s only assembly point for nuclear weapons, a role it maintains to this day.

BRIANNA NOFIL | UPDATED: MAY 6, 2021, ORIGINAL: MAY 31, 2018 history.com

At first glance, the job posting looks like a standard help-wanted ad for a cross-country trucker. Up to three weeks a month on the road in an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, traveling through the contiguous 48 states. Risks include inclement weather, around-the-clock travel, and potentially adverse environmental conditions. But then the fine print: Candidates should have “experience in performing high-risk armed tactical security work…and maneuvering against a hostile adversary.”

The U.S. government is hiring “Nuclear Materials Couriers.” Since the 1950s, this team of federal agents, most of them ex-military, has been tasked with ferrying America’s roughly 6,000 nuclear warheads and extensive supply of nuclear materials across the roads and highways of the United States. America’s nuclear facilities are spread out throughout the country, on over 2.4 million acres of federal real estate, overseen by the Department of Energy (DOE)—a labyrinth of a system the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists called “highly scattered and fragmented…with few enforceable rules.”

Some sites are for assembly, some are for active weapons, some are for chemicals, some are for mechanical parts. What this means in practice is that nuclear materials have to move around—a lot.

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Opinion: Officials should deny interim storage of high-level waste in Andrews

Lon Burnam, Karen Hadden and Kevin Kamps | Aug. 6, 2021 Midland Reporter Telegram (MRT) mrt.com

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may soon approve Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) license application to store 40,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste above ground in Andrews County at Waste Control Specialists’ low-level radioactive waste dump site, located near the Ogallala Aquifer.

The NRC has published the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Safety Evaluation Report. NRC commissioners will then vote on ISP’s license application, and they are clearly in favor. In legal proceedings, NRC staff and judges have ignored numerous safety and health-related concerns that were backed up by expert witnesses.  

The NRC has behaved similarly in the Holtec International proceeding, which is just a few months behind ISPs. Holtec is targeting a site between Hobbs, New Mexico, and Carlsbad, New Mexico. Its plan is to store up to 173,600 tons of high-level radioactive waste about 40 miles from the WCS location. The Permian Basin could become a very high-risk radioactive waste sacrifice zone, threatening all other businesses, industries and agriculture in the region.

Nuclear waste from both U.S. coasts would be dumped on the southwest. Ninety percent of reactors are in the eastern half of the U.S., but California Democrats, including Congressman Mike Levin, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are leading efforts to dump on Texas and New Mexico. They want the waste out of Southern California and don’t care how it leaves or where it goes as long as it is out of their backyard.

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