188 US-60, Panhandle, TX 79068 hello@peacefarm.us

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

“Pantex Completes Warhead Program”

MISLEADING ARTICLE TITLE in print in Amarillo Globe News on Sunday, following an official statement made July 13, 2021: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/articles/nnsa-completes-first-production-unit-w88-alteration-370

Pantex did not “complete” a warhead program. It merely produced the “First Production Unit.”

“This major milestone for DOE/NNSA, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Nation was achieved one month ahead of schedule…”

Not mentioned is that the B61 Life Extension Program and this W88 “Alteration” together experienced a 2-year $800 million delay over a new off-the shelf $5 capacitor that was belatedly deemed not long-lived enough to be war reserve.

“The W88 Alt 370 is a crucial part of Nation’s strategy for the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad, and a testament to the Enterprise’s ability to execute major modernization programs. As we continue to modernize the stockpile, the successes and lessons learned from this program will bolster our future warhead activities to provide a safe, secure, and reliable deterrent.”

Concerning “testament,” see above referenced capacitor providing a concrete example of the danger of introducing new components into the already extensively tested stockpile. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And why produce a new-design W93 that can’t be tested for the Navy when its W88 warhead is just beginning a major “Alteration” and its W76 just finished a major Life Extension Program? The untested W93 could lower confidence in stockpile reliability, or worse yet prompt the U.S. back into testing.

Read full article below


“The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) successfully completed the system-level First Production Unit for the W88 Alteration (Alt) 370 at the Pantex Plant July 1, 2021.

The W88 Alt 370 is a major warhead acquisition program that ensures the future viability of the sea-launched ballistic missile strategic deterrent. This major milestone for DOE/NNSA, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Nation was achieved one month ahead of schedule after more than 11 years of design, development, qualification, and component production.

Read More

These activists think they have solution to Texas’ nuclear waste problem

June 8, 2021 | Midland Reporter-Telegram Caitlin Randle, crandle@mrt.com

Two activists have met with Midland leaders, including representatives from Fasken Oil and Ranch, County Com­missioner Randy Prude and U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, to discuss what they see as the solution to Texas’ nuclear waste problem.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is currently reviewing an application for a high-level nuclear waste site in Andrews County that critics have argued would open the Permian Basin up for a potential terrorist attack, as well as the risk of a leak when the waste is transported by train through Midland County.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear and Lon Burnam of Public Citizen [member of the Peace Farm board] are trying to put pressure on government to invest in what they believe is the safest way to store nuclear Waste – hardened onsite storage.

“It’s much better designed containers with much better designed systems, fabricated well to last for as long as it’s going to be needed to contain this stuff from the living environment, which is forever,” Kamps said.

Kamps and Burnam worked on the defeat of Rep. Brooks Landgraf’ s House Bill 2692, which aimed to ban the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Texas. However; as noted in a letter from Rep. Tom Craddick to House Committee on Environmental Regulation members, the bill didn’t have the power to ban waste because storage sites are decided at the federal level.

Burnam called the bill a Trojan horse, “This Bill pretended to do something that it couldn’t do,” he said, noting the bill would have also given a tax-break to Interim Storage Partners, the company seeking to build a waste storage site in Andrews County.

A better solution, according to Kamps and Burnam, is to pass legislation at the federal level relating to hardened onsite storage, a concept first described by Dr. Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in 2003.

Read More

Modernization: The Mainspring of NNSA FY 2022 Budget Request in the Form of Ballooning SRS Pit Costs

By Sophia Stroud

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s detailed fiscal year 2022 budget request was (partially) unveiled last week on Friday, May 28, in the evening before a long holiday weekend. The Biden Administration’s total NNSA FY22 budget request is just under $20 billion, requesting of $15.48 billion for NNSA “Total Weapons Activities” and following suit with Trump’s excessive nuclear weapons budget of $15.35 billion that Congress appropriated for FY 2021.

Of particular note in the budget request is that it will cost more than double what the National Nuclear Security Administration had previously estimated for the total of DOE’s Plutonium Bomb Plant construction at Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The facility would be a converted production plant for the fabrication of plutonium “pits,” the triggers for nuclear warheads. The cost for the plant has ballooned from the previous estimate of $4.6 billion to a now staggering $11.1 billion. What’s more, the schedule for the facility’s initial operation has slipped up to five years. The plans for the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant have already run far over budget and fallen behind schedule, and “these troubling and potentially debilitating developments foreshadow problems to come to the challenging pit-production project,” according to the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch.

The construction plans for the new Savannah River Plutonium Bomb Plant involve “repurposing” the failed plutonium fuel (MOX) building at SRS, a project which has already cost taxpayers a wasted $8 billion. The NNSA’s previous cost estimate of $4.6 billion came in 2018, before the project’s critical decision-1 (CD-1) review, conducted just last winter and submitted to NNSA headquarters in Washington D.C. recently this April. This new breath-taking $11.1 billion figure comes weeks before a key decision will be made on the planning for the facility through CD-1. Further, this new cost is based on the design of the facility being only 30% complete, when 90% design completion in not expected until “CD [Critical Decision]-2/3 approval in FY23-24.” (PDF page 211). Given these factors on top of DOE’s extremely poor track record in managing complex and costly construction projects (illustrated clearly with the MOX debacle), it is fully expected that the pit plant cost will increase over time and that the schedule for the project will continue to slip. There is also some significant concern regarding the necessity of the entire project.

“DOE and DOD have so far refused to reassess the supposed need for the costly weapons system and the need for new plutonium pits on its warhead. Over 15,000 pits are in storage at DOE’s Pantex site in Texas and experts have stated that they “have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years as regards aging of plutonium.” (JASON “Pit Lifetime” report to NNSA, January 2007)”

Savannah River Site Watch
Read More

Cost of Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant Soars to $11 Billion; DOE’s Nuclear Bomb Facility Jolts FY22 Funding

Savannah River Site Watch May 29, 2021

“Though pressure is growing on the unneeded GBSD, DOE and DOD have so far refused to reassess the supposed need for the costly weapons system and the need for new plutonium pits on its warhead. Over 15,000 pits are in storage at DOE’s Pantex site in Texas and experts have stated that they “have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years as regards aging of plutonium.” (JASON “Pit Lifetime” report to NNSA, January 2007)”

NNSA Request of $475 Million for Unneeded Pit Production Plant for Nuclear Warheads is Far Under Annual Level Needed for Controversial Project, Spells Trouble

COLUMBIA, SC, US, May 29, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — The U.S. Department of Energy budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2022 holds some startling surprises related to fabrication of plutonium “pits” for nuclear warheads at the DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The biggest shock in the budget request by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration is that the total estimated cost of the SRS pit plant has soared to $11.1 billion, more than double the previous cost estimate of $4.6 billion (in the FY 21 budget request).

Thus, in a one-week period, the cost estimate of the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) has more than doubled in cost and the schedule for the facility’s initial operation has slipped up to five years. These troubling and potentially debilitating developments foreshadow problems to come to the challenging pit-production project, according to the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch.

The breath-taking $11.1 billion cost comes weeks before a key decision will be made on the planning for the facility, so-called “Critical-Decision-1.” That decision point will include a cost range for the PBP and the budget states that the $11.1 billion “value does not represent the CD-1 approved high end of the range.” (pages 220 and 225) Thus, an even higher figure can be expected to be reported in mid-June. DOE claims that better cost estimates will come with “CD-2/3 approval in FY23-24.” (page 211)

Given DOE’s extremely poor track record in managing complex and costly construction projects, as was seen with the MOX debacle, it is fully expected that the pit plant cost will increase over time and that the schedule for the project will continue to slip. The high cost of the SRS pit plant construction and operation will put extreme pressure on both the pit project and the new W87-1 nuclear warhead – atop the new, proposed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile – for which the first pits would be made, according to SRS Watch.

Read More

Virtual Advocacy for “Safety, Security, and Savings” at ANA DC Days:

May 26, 2021

Members of the Peace Farm virtually visited Washington, DC this month to participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s “DC Days,” an annual event where organizations from across the nation, whose members are directly affected by nuclear weapons production and the incidental health and environmental consequences, make their voice heard to federal policy makers.

Detonate Open-Air Bomb Tests at Livermore Lab’s Site 300

The Peace Farm is pushing for safe and secure toxic cleanup and prioritizing public health while saving billions by terminating ill-conceived new nuclear weapons programs.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s new report, “Safety, Security, and Savings” marks the foundation of our 2021 advocacy. Each Biden Administration official and member of Congress with whom we meet gets a copy – and so do our members and friends (see below). The report includes a series of fact sheets and recommendations covering new warheads, bomb plants, nuclear waste, cleanup, and more.

CLICK HERE for the full report.

Environmental Justice

Los Angeles Times Newsletter: The dark legacy of a nuclear meltdown, and what it means for climate change

Despite growing up in Los Angeles, until recently I knew next to nothing about Santa Susana, which is nestled in the Simi Hills west of the San Fernando Valley. As my L.A. Times colleagues have chronicled, it was a nuclear reactor and rocket engine test facility for decades, and the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. Today more than 700,000 people live within 10 miles.

Santa Susana is an incredibly toxic site. And the parties responsible for the long legacy of radioactive waste and other contaminants — namely Boeing, NASA and the federal Department of Energy — have done hardly anything to clean it up.

Santa Susana is also the subject of a new documentary, “In the Dark of the Valley,” which is making the rounds on the film festival circuit. It’s a gut-wrenching story about children living near the field lab who have been diagnosed with cancer, and whose mothers have banded together to demand a full cleanup, in hopes that other families won’t suffer like theirs have.

On the border of New Mexico and Texas, yet another predominantly Latino town is fighting plans for a new gas-fired turbine at a power plant owned by El Paso Electric. Here’s the view from the ground in Chaparral, where residents say some of country’s dirtiest air is making them sick, as Claudia Silva writes for New Mexico In Depth. El Paso Electric says the new gas unit is needed to help keep the lights on during hot summer weather. Indeed, power grid officials are warning that not just California but also Texas, New England and parts of the Midwest are at risk of energy shortages this summer, per Utility Dive’s Robert Walton.