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"Forget the Rest" blog


Thank you for your support; coffee club reminder; more good news

December 27, 2015

Reminder: Coffee Club re-opens this week, 7:30 am Thursday and 3:00 pm Friday, Study Group HQ (2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque).  Coffee, tea, fruit, snacks, and talk.

Dear friends –

Thank you so much for your generous financial support.  We have only a few more days in the year and we hope all who can contribute but haven’t will do so.  You can contribute on-line as well. 

After the first of the year (and one more Bulletin to the large email list) we’ll give these financial appeals a short rest.  Thank you for your patience and support in the meanwhile.  Also, many of you have written very kind notes and some have stopped by to see us.  Thank you. 

Hopefully you are all aware by now (e.g. via Bulletin 213) that for Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the contractor running Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the end of the road is coming.  See:

Then, on Christmas Eve of all times LANL published its latest hazardous waste noncompliance report, which was noticed by an alert reporter (Rebecca Moss) at the New Mexican.  It was pretty shocking, as she reported (“LANL reports more safety lapses at waste sitesSanta Fe New Mexican, Dec 24, 2015).   Thirty-one years ago I was the first hazardous waste inspector on site at LANL.  It was then the worst facility in the state by far, for danger and for noncompliance.  The hazardous waste compliance situation at LANL, three decades later, remains very disappointing.  Perhaps it is still the worst in the state.

As much as we fault LANS we don’t actually think another contractor would do better.  UC wasn’t much better, though it was significantly cheaper.  LANL, not LANS, is the problem.  Increasingly LANL is a problem we can’t afford. 

There will be more bad news in the near future for LANL, LANS, and Bechtel (the big dog in LANS), as a number of stories are working their way toward publication, and details of DOE’s evaluations will soon be public.  Local author Sally Denton’s new book on Bechtel (“The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World”) will be out on March 1.  

Stepping back from LANL's self-inflicted woes, it is high time to ban the bomb, and helping that process along as best we can is on our agenda.  We know full well the U.S. and other nuclear weapon states will not participate in such a ban but other states will, and a large group of important states will find themselves under pressure to choose.  There are many domestic and international implications of this entirely voluntary and exquisitely flexible process, all of which are positive and (should it proceed to a ban treaty as hoped) quite powerful.  Some 121 states have pledged to support negotiations; here’s a very nice map and summary of positions.  Discussions in the so-called “Open-Ended Working Group” begin in Geneva in February for a few days, then again in May for two weeks, then again in August.  It is not up to us, obviously, but it would be fitting if a ban treaty were opened for signature on the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev (October 11-12, 1986).  Jus’ sayin.’ We will update and expand our overview of nuclear weapons modernization, which was very useful to diplomats last year, in the coming months. 

Over Christmas, we began a consultative process with former and serving government officials aimed at dramatically downsizing the physics labs (LANL and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, LLNL, run by a nearly identical corporate consortium and board).  We hope to have our first discussions in late January, in Washington or in Princeton.  We don’t need two Cold War sized laboratories, each doing the much same thing (I can hear the quibbles now) for three or four times as much money as before (in constant dollars). 

We hope you will have a wonderful week; stay tuned for more at the end of the year. 

Greg Mello

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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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