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"Forget the Rest" blog


September 27, 2014

Re: LANL is splitting; NNSA lab futures; meeting schedule; more

Dear Study Group core supporters and friends –

Thanks to those who were able to come and contribute to recent discussions in Albuquerque (“Through and Beyond the Issues; Work, Study Opportunities with the Los Alamos Study Group”), Los Alamos (“The Future of NNSA’s Nuclear Labs”), and Santa Fe (“Plutonium is Not Your Friend”).

Helen Caldicott joined us via Skype and a projector at this last meeting.  We will bring in other authorities and guest speakers at future meetings.  Stay tuned.

Our next meeting is in Taos at the Kit Carson Electric Coop, 118 Cruz Alta Road on Friday, October 10 (“Plutonium is Not Your Friend”).  All our meetings are from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

For later Study Group meetings in New Mexico see the table in Bulletin 194.

There has been considerable ferment on laboratory issues despite (apparent) congressional inaction.  We put a few key news articles, often involving us, on our home page, along with our own new work if it can be shared.  New information about LANL plutonium plans usually goes on our main active plutonium infrastructure page.

We want to draw your attention to yesterday’s announcement by the Department of Energy (DOE) that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), with which Los Alamos National Security (LANS), LLC contracts to manage and operate (M&O) Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the government, will not remain as the manager of environmental cleanup and legacy waste operations at LANL.  DOE Environmental Management (EM) will take over that federal role, with a new contract and quite likely a new contractor, as the Albuquerque Journal explains.

The New Mexican also had an important in-depth article about the LANL bust-up, which also revealed hitherto unpublished information (provided by Trish) about the (high) temperatures reached in the LANL-created drum that burst.  (Trish also took the aerial shot of the active dumping pit at Area G that the paper used.)

It took us some time yesterday to understand and digest the news that 10% of LANL’s work is being split off.  We had been asked by congressional staff and others what we thought about doing just that when we were in Washington earlier this month but the actual event caught us by surprise.

We are very pleased with this announcement, for which we can take little credit.  We are still working in various other ways to make LANS accountable for the mountainous mistakes that led to the WIPP contamination and shutdown.  We have requested a DOE Inspector General investigation of illegal activity and associated cover-up, and now there is an investigation underway.  Based on information we have seen and the justifiable anger we have witnessed in Washington, more shoes could drop.  Clearly the reassignment or dismissal of four managers is being done to avoid even worse outcomes, if that is possible.  For example, LANS could have its contract cut short.  Some want it ended.

We believe it is time to end the LANS contract and replace it not just with another contractor from the same short list, but with federal management.

Yesterday we completed our initial comments to the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories (CRENEL).  They are a little rough but we are often asked what we think the future of LANL should be.  Read our comments to find out.

Please understand these are a provisional normative future.  They do not include a nuclear abolition scenario.  Of course in the long run LANL will come to an end one way or another.  Hopefully humanity will outlast it.

Most of you saw the recent New York Times article (“U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms,” William Broad and David Sanger, 9/21/14) and associated editorial about nuclear weapons modernization and costs (“Backsliding on Nuclear Promises,” 9/22/14).  It’s a very helpful piece, though it must be said that the prominent critics of the huge costs quoted are some of the same people that agreed to the modernization program, explicitly including its huge costs, at the time.[1]  And of course the New York Times, including David Sanger, is a prominent platform for fallacious U.S. anti-Russian propaganda and is thereby working to undermine prospects for nuclear disarmament and arms control.[2]

More will follow, to many more people, in a Bulletin in the next few days.  Please help us with outreach, especially to potential Study Group funders, if you can.

In solidarity,

Greg and Trish, for the Study Group

[1] Another strange aspect of the article is that it focuses on failed activist efforts to halt plans to rebuild the Kansas City Plant (KCP) in a new location a few miles south of the previous one.  Those efforts were misguided and doomed to fail from the get-go, because if successful they would have left NNSA with only one recourse: move the plant to Albuquerque.  This was the activist plan, kept secret in New Mexico by the groups involved.  It was shameful and dumb, so it failed.  (For background see for example “NRDC and others seek to move nuclear weapons factories to NM: more details,” Action Alert #90, Aug 25, 2008; “Overall Remarks on “Transforming the U.S. Strategic Posture and Weapons Complex for Transition to a Nuclear Weapons Free World,” a report by the “Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Network,” Jun 1, 2009; and “Would moving the Kansas City Plant (KCP) to Albuquerque Lead toward Nuclear Disarmament?,” Jun 3, 2009.)  We lobbied Congress and administration as heavily as we could against this plan.

[2] More accurate and balanced views can be found in many places, such as from Robert Parry at Consortium News (many good articles of his could be cited).


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