Saturday, July 16th, at 7 am – 1 pm: 43rd Uranium Tailings Spill Legacy Commemoration – 12 miles north of Red Rock State Park on Hwy 566 near Church Rock, NM. For more information, call 505 577-8438 and https://swuraniumimpacts.org/
Saturday, July 16th – 13th Annual Candlelight Vigil (beginning at 8 pm at the Little League Field) and Town Hall (from 2 to 4 pm at the Tularosa Community Center), Tularosa, NM. For more information, https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability held its annual DC Days conference virtually again this year beginning May 16, 2022. Members of The Peace Farm proudly participated in this week-long event, where we discussed issues related to nuclear waste and nuclear weapons modernization under the Biden Administration, especially regarding expanded plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Lab and at the Savannah River Site, and the generational problem of nuclear waste storage in the United States.
We urged legislators against supporting the expanded production of plutonium “pits” because of the following facts:
Brianna Maestas, Amarillo Globe-News, May 26 2022
The Pantex Plant is working on modernization changes to its facilities as a part of its mission to adapt and deliver a modern, agile, and responsive asset for the nation.
On Tuesday, the plant announced in a news release that new facilities are under construction. The project does include the deconstruction of several current facilities and creation of new ones, but the timeline and number of new facilities has yet to be announced.Read More
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.
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:
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More