Monday, December 9, 2013

Critique of DOI's Draft Plan for LANL

Comments submitted to

 On page ii of the Executive Summary of the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan (November 2013) the LANL Trustees are listed as:

> DOE.
> The U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service.
> Pueblo of Jemez.
> Pueblo de San Ildefonso.
> Santa Clara Pueblo.
> The State of New Mexico, acting through the Natural Resources Trustee of the Office of Natural Resources Trustee.

However, neither the US Department of the Interior (DOI) nor Cochiti Pueblo are included here, whereas they were included in the Pre-assessment Screen for Los Alamos National Laboratory (January 2010.) (See below)Both of these omissions are troubling, albeit for different reasons:

1) In the case of the DOI, its omission from among the Trustees leads one to question the seriousness of the entire Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan. Since the DOE has been recognized widely by the general public, as well as by the Trustees, as being the source of the resource damage being investigated and, presumably, will also be the source of any financial recompense made for damages, it behooves the Trustees to have explicitly included among themselves some other federal Executive Agency of equal or greater political weight than the DOE. The DOE has already been soundly criticized in the press and by the general public for its lack of diligence in the timely cleanup of the mess that it has created at the nuclear weapons factories and laboratories.

To have assembled a group of Trustees, the most politically weighty of which is the DOE, when it is the DOE who is responsible for the toxic mess that has been created and will be responsible for its cleanup, is to tacitly agree to the perpetuation of the status quo; i.e., to a situation in which the DOE continues to mismanage the cleanup and continues to obfuscate the problems that it is experiencing along the way.

2) In the case of Cochiti Pueblo, this is a troubling omission since, according to the Pre-assessment Screen, Cochiti Pueblo has suffered potentially serious resource damage due to past LANL operations; viz.,

quoting from the Pre-assessment Screen (January 2010)/ (p17):

"According to the 1999 SWEIS,"

"The major contributors to environmental impacts of operating LANL are
wastewater discharges and radioactive air emissions."

"> Historic discharges to Mortandad Canyon from the RLWTF have
resulted in above background residual radionuclide (americium,
plutonium, strontium-90, and cesium-137) concentrations, as well as
nitrates in alluvial groundwater and sediments."

"> Plutonium deposits have been detected along the Rio Grande between
Otowi and Cochiti Lake."
"Additionally, releases of plutonium have been detected in sediments within Cochiti
Reservoir and below in the Rio Grande as far south as Albuquerque (Graf 1994). Once
contaminants have been released to the environment, they can be remobilized and
transported over distances or into new media. For example, storm events can redistribute
sediment in stream beds, wind can shift contaminants in soil, and soil contamination can
be relocated by percolation of precipitation and groundwater movement."

"(Graf, W. L., 1994. Plutonium and the Rio Grande: Environmental Change and
Contamination in the Nuclear Age. Oxford University Press. New York, New York.
ISBN-13 978-0195089332.)"

Why has this important information, included in the Pre-assessment Screen, been omitted from the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan?

Why has Cochti Pueblo been excluded from the list of Trustees in the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan?

In my opinion, a public statement of the reasons for these omissions should be given now, and written into future versions of the Draft Plan.


Quoting from the Pre-assessment Screen (January 2010) / (p6)

"Natural resource Trustees for this site include the following."

"> The DOE acts as trustee for portions of LANL that are or have been owned
and/or operated by the United States. As such, DOE has trusteeship for natural
resources at LANL as a land management agency."

"> The DOI acts as a trustee for natural resources and supporting ecosystems that it
manages or controls. In this matter, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and National Park Service (NPS) act on behalf of
the Secretary of DOI as trustees for natural resources under the DOI’s
jurisdiction. As the authorized official for the LANL NRDA and Restoration
(NRDAR) effort, the BIA is delegated the authority to act on behalf of the
Secretary and consults with, coordinates with, and obtains the concurrence of the

"> The USDA, acting through the Forest Service, has trusteeship for various natural
and cultural resources of the Santa Fe National Forest (40 CFR § 300.600)."

"> The State of New Mexico, acting through the Natural Resources Trustee and the
Office of Natural Resources Trustee, and the Attorney General and the Attorney
General’s Office, holds trusteeship for a range of natural resources potentially
affected by releases from LANL (40 CFR § 600.605)."

"> Four federally-recognized Pueblos have been identified as holding trusteeship
over various resources that may have been injured as a result of releases from
LANL. These include Pueblo de San Ildefonso, Jemez Pueblo, Santa Clara
Pueblo, and Cochiti Pueblo."


Sunday, December 8, 2013

US Dept of Interior Espies Nuke Lab Mess

Cleanup of the mess of radioactive and toxic chemical wastes at the United States Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration's nuclear weapons factories and laboratories has been underway for more than a decade. At Los Alamos National Laboratory this process has passed a number of important milestones, one of which was the negotiation and signing of the Consent Order Decree of 2005 between DOE, LANL, and the State of New Mexico.

The Consent Order Decree described the steps that DOE pledged to take in order to clean up the mess made at LANL by the nuclear weapons program, and a timeline for completing each of these steps. Unfortunately, the nuclear weapons program continues at LANL, as it does at many of the DOE/NNSA nuclear weapons sites. Hence, new radioactive and toxic chemical wastes are being generated and added to the mess that already exists.

Compounding this difficulty is the fact that the financial cost of the cleanup is very large. At LANL, the cost to the DOE of its cleanup activities is ~$150 million, each year. Moreover, at DOE's Hanford, WA nuclear facility the annual cost is ten times as much; i.e., more than $ 1 billion. Not surprisingly then, each year, there is an competition between the nuclear weapons factories and laboratories for cleanup dollars.

Under this circumstance, it appears that DOE often judges LANL's cleanup problems to be less serious than those of its sister factories and laboratories. As a result, LANL is falling behind schedule in many, if not most, of its pledged cleanup activities.

The State of New Mexico, as well as many local citizens' groups are not happy with this situation.

But, fortuitously perhaps, another US government executive branch agency has moved into the breech.

The Department of the Interior, one of whose Congressionally mandated activities is to act as trustee for public lands and for native american lands, is undertaking an independent investigation of the type and degree of radiological and chemical contamination of lands on and surrounding the LANL site. The purpose of this investigation is to: 1) decide on the amount and type of damage caused to these lands by the nuclear weapons industry; 2) attribute a monetary value to the damage that has been suffered; 3) decide on the the cost of remediation. The DOI expects that the cost of remediation will be borne entirely by the DOE.

This DOI managed process has been underway for several years, the first phase having been completed in January 2010 with the publication of a Pre-Assessment Screen. In that report, it was shown that a full damage assessment and remediation plan for LANL was feasible and should be undertaken immediately.

Now, almost four years later, the Draft Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan for LANL has been completed, and has been issued for public inspection and comment. Whether any of the noble sentiments reflected in the Draft Plan will lead to actual remediation of the mess created by the nuclear weapons industry remains to be seen. In any case, it will be the US taxpayer who pays the bill.

In the following, I've excerpted parts of this document, available in its entirety at



Prepared by The Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Trustee Council
(for the United States Department of the Interior)

November 2013

Period for public comment extended to COB Jan 13 2014; send comments to

Public lands, waters, air, and living resources are held in trust for the benefit of all people and future generations. Since the 1970s, the U.S. Congress has enacted a number of statutes to protect and manage the natural resources that belong to all Americans. Several of these statutes designate natural resource trustees to serve as stewards of natural resources on behalf of the public.1 In particular, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. §§ 9601 to 9675) includes provisions to conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) -- a process for replacement, restoration, rehabilitation, or acquisition of equivalent resources injured by the release of
hazardous substances. This process is codified in the Department of the Interior regulations (43 C.F.R. Part 11). The Trustees for natural resources in and around LANL, as well as the NRDA process, are discussed in greater detail below.

Since 1943, activities on the LANL site in north-central New Mexico have resulted in the release of radiological and other hazardous contaminants into the environment. Cleanup of the site and decommissioning began as early as the 1970s, and will likely continue for several more years. While cleanup efforts continue, Trustees of natural resources in and around LANL are conducting a NRDA.

This Plan describes the LANL Trustees’ current understanding of the assessment work necessary to complete the NRDA. Inclusion of an assessment activity in this Plan does not guarantee it will be undertaken, and implementation of initial studies may result in the addition of studies to the current list or may deprioritize others.


Designated Federal, state, and Tribal governments are authorized to act as trustees of natural resources on behalf of the public. In this role, trustees may assess and recover damages for natural resource injuries resulting from the release of hazardous substances or oil to the environment. The Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Trustee Council (LANLTC) includes representatives from the following organizations:

> DOE.
> The U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service.
> Pueblo of Jemez.
> Pueblo de San Ildefonso.
> Santa Clara Pueblo.
> The State of New Mexico, acting through the Natural Resources Trustee of the Office of Natural Resources Trustee.

The party responsible for discharges and releases of oil or hazardous substances at this site (i.e., the “responsible party”) is DOE. DOE is also responsible for site remediation. In addition, as noted above, DOE is a Trustee. The LANLTC has agreed to follow a cooperative assessment process, as recommended by the Department of the Interior (DOI) NRDA regulations, meaning that DOE and the other Trustees are jointly and collaboratively conducting the assessment.


The ultimate goal of the assessment is to replace, restore, rehabilitate or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and resource services lost due to the release of hazardous substances. To achieve this goal, trustees will complete a number of interim steps, which are outlined within the DOI NRDA regulations promulgated pursuant to the principal NRDA statutes, including CERCLA, and which can generally be divided into three sequential phases. These phases are described below.

In the Preassessment Phase, a review of readily available information is conducted that allows the trustees to make an early decision as to whether a NRDA can and should be performed. During this phase, the trustees determine whether an injury has occurred and if a pathway of exposure exists. The preassessment phase is a pre-requisite to conducting a formal assessment. The LANLTC has completed this process and released a Preassessment Screen (PAS) in January 2010 (LANLTC 2010). The PAS confirmed that a formal assessment of injuries to resources is warranted.

Development of the present Plan, is the first step within the Assessment Phase of a NRDA. There are two primary components of the Assessment Phase: planning and implementation. First, the trustees must write a plan to ensure that the assessment is performed in a systematic manner, and that the methodologies selected can be conducted at a reasonable cost. Second, the Plan is implemented. After completing injury determination, injury quantification, and damages determination, the trustees enter the Post-Assessment Phase. As part of this phase, the LANLTC will prepare: (1) a Report of Assessment detailing the results of the Assessment Phase; and (2) a Restoration Plan that describes how natural resources and the services they provide will be restored.


Ecosystems and resources in and around LANL provide a wide-range of services, including both ecological and human services. The DOI NRDA regulations define services as the “physical and biological functions performed by the resource including the human uses of those functions” (43 C.F.R. § 11.14(nn)). Natural resource services are “a metric for measuring resource conditions and resource restoration” (73 Fed. Reg. 57,259) and, as such, they are compensable if they are reduced as a result of a release of hazardous substances. In addition, natural resource services can provide the metric by which natural resource injuries and the benefits of natural resource restoration may be quantified.
Ecological services are those services provided by natural resources that benefit wildlife and ecosystems. Human services include the services natural resources provide to humans. The latter generally fall into two categories at LANL, recreational uses and Pueblo community use services. Pueblo members may utilize natural resources to an extent and in ways that are different from the general population, and natural resources also may play a different role in Pueblo communities than they do in other sub-populations in and around LANL.

Examples of ecological and human services provided by LANL natural resources include:

> Surface water and sediment resources: habitat for invertebrates and other aquatic organisms; recreational services including fishing, swimming, and boating; Pueblo services such as provision of clay and subsistence fishing;

> Soil resources: nutritive substrate for the growth of plants, shelter for burrowing animals, and cleansing of
groundwater as it passes through soils;

> Groundwater resources: clean groundwater discharging to surface waters, human use services such as drinking water;

> Biota: nutrient cycling services, pollination, as food sources for other animals and humans, nonuse existence values.


The LANLTC is currently in the assessment phase of the NRDA. The assessment involves a number of steps, described in more detail in later parts of this Plan, including assessment planning, pathway determination, injury determination, injury quantification, damage determination, and restoration.


As noted above, this Plan represents the LANLTC’s current understanding of the activities that may be necessary to identify and quantify injury to natural resources and their services in and around LANL, and to determine the appropriate scale and scope of restoration. Inclusion of an activity within this Plan does not guarantee that it will be undertaken, and efforts and analyses not included within the Plan may be deemed necessary at a later date. As such, this Plan is not intended to limit the extent and nature of studies that may be undertaken in the course of the assessment, but to provide a framework within which the LANLTC will begin to prioritize efforts and implement the NRDA. The identified activities fall generally within four categories:

1. Use of existing data to identify potential injury to site resources.

2. Collection of new data and analysis of existing information on groundwater and human use services.

3. Field collection of additional ecological data to determine injury to site resources and changes in resource

4. Quantification and damages studies to identify and scale restoration.


LANL is a DOE facility situated on approximately 27,500 acres (approximately 40 square miles) in north-central New Mexico, approximately 60 miles north of Albuquerque and 25 miles northwest of Santa Fe. Scientific research began at LANL in March of 1943 with the inception of Project Y of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government’s effort to develop and test nuclear weapons. In recent decades, operations at LANL have broadened beyond nuclear weapons development to include missions pertaining to “national security, energy resources, environmental quality, and science.”

Operations conducted at LANL have resulted in the release of hazardous substances to the environment. Under Federal law, Federal, state, and Tribal governments are authorized to act as trustees of natural resources on behalf of the public (e.g., CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601 to 9675; see also 43 C.F.R. Part 11). In this role, it is the responsibility of the trustees to plan and implement actions to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of natural resources and resource services injured as a result of the release of hazardous substances to the environment. Trustees may assess and recover damages from the parties responsible for the release, and use those damages to implement restoration actions. Damages may include the cost of restoring the injured resources and the services provided by those resources to their baseline
condition (i.e., the condition that would have existed but for the release) (primary restoration), as well as
compensation for interim losses pending restoration through compensatory restoration (73 Fed. Reg. 57,260). All damages recovered as a result of this damage assessment will be used to undertake actions to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the resources that were injured and the services those resources would have provided.


The purpose of this Plan is to outline the approach the LANLTC will take to assess damages for injuries to natural resources stemming from releases of hazardous substances, ensuring that the NRDA is conducted in a planned and systematic manner and at a reasonable cost. It is the intent of the LANLTC that this Plan will serve as a living document, and is therefore subject to change and amendment as the NRDA progresses.


The primary party responsible for discharges and releases of oil or hazardous substances at LANL is DOE. As noted above, DOE is also a Trustee. Other parties may be considered potentially responsible parties as additional information is obtained during the assessment.


Scientific research began at the site in March of 1943 with the inception of Project Y of the Manhattan Project, which was the U.S. government’s effort to develop and test nuclear weapons. Pueblo people inhabited the Pajarito Plateau and were living in accordance with their traditional beliefs and practices in and around LANL during this time. The Federal government limited access to lands and natural resources of the Pueblos during the Manhattan Project. Over the years, scientific investigations expanded into a variety of related fields, and geographically onto adjacent mesa tops. More recently, increased but still limited access has been allowed on site.

LANL is divided administratively into a number of smaller areas called Technical Areas (TAs), which were and are centers for different operations. Operations conducted over the years at LANL have resulted in the release of hazardous substances into the environment. For example, in the 1940s, radioactive liquid wastes were discharged directly into Acid Canyon, a tributary to Pueblo Canyon, as a result of operations associated with the Manhattan Project. Untreated discharges continued until 1951, when a wastewater treatment plant was constructed to manage liquid wastes for TA 51. Discharges continued, though radiological contamination was somewhat reduced due to the treatment process (LANL 1996).
In addition to liquid waste disposal, radioactive and hazardous wastes were commonly buried on-site, sometimes in secret locations, because the wastes being disposed of were classified (e.g., Material Disposal Site F in TA 6 (DOE 2008 Appendix I; U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration 1977, LA-6848-MS).

Remedial activities and decommissioning began at LANL as early as the 1970s. Beginning in 1989, DOE began remedial activities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (42 U.S.C. §§ 6901 to 6992k). As part of these remedial efforts, “Potential Release Sites” (PRSs) were identified and investigated. These PRSs include Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs), Areas of Concern (AOCs), and Materials Disposal Areas (MDAs). In 2005, DOE, the University of California, and the State of New Mexico entered into a Compliance Order on Consent (Consent Order) to undertake remedial actions at LANL, with the intent of investigating and implementing any needed corrective measures by the end of 2015. The Consent Order expressly outlined the approach for conducting three broad categories of hazardous waste remedial investigations: facility-wide investigations, canyon investigations, and Aggregated Technical Area investigations. It required LANL to group PRSs into larger aggregate areas, but also included provisions for the discovery of new sub-sites within LANL. Finally, it detailed both general and specific technical approaches to site-wide remediation.


As noted earlier in this Chapter, LANL and its environs are part of the ancestral territories of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso, Santa Clara Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo, and other Federally recognized Pueblos. As such, the study area holds significant cultural, environmental, and religious significance for members of the modern-day Pueblo communities

As is clear from the area’s history, Jemez, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara Pueblos' management, use, and occupation of their ancestral homelands in the Jemez Mountains and Pajarito Plateau began well before European presence, and continues to this day, despite three changes of sovereigns -- Spain, Mexico, and then in 1848, the United States -- governing New Mexico. Each Pueblo’s village has been at its present location for centuries. The Pueblos are among the oldest occupied settlements in the United States, and Pueblo people have lived since time immemorial at their ancestral homes on or near the Pajarito Plateau. Although some Pueblo members gained limited access to LANL via employment at the site, after the U.S. government’s activities began in 1943, little or no access was granted to Pueblo people for many years. In recent years, some Federally owned parcels have been returned to Pueblo and Los Alamos County ownership. However, despite the transfer of lands back to the Pueblos, the current boundaries of each Pueblo do not encompass all of each Pueblo's ancestral territory. Each Pueblo’s current landholdings include an area recognized as an original Spanish land grant that was confirmed by a U.S. patent. In addition, the United States since then has recognized additional lands for exclusive use of each Pueblo, holding lands in trust and protecting them from loss or taking. Throughout its history, each Pueblo has consistently and relentlessly sought to protect and maintain its inherent rights to its ancestral territory, both within and beyond its current landholdings. More recently, increased, but still limited, access has been allowed on the LANL site itself. Where allowed, Pueblo members continue to utilize LANL lands and resources for a variety of activities, including cultural and religious rituals; and, lands surrounding LANL are widely used by Pueblos
for traditional activities.

The Pueblos of Jemez, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara, as well as other Pueblos in the region, continue to actively use and rely upon the plant, animal, and water resources of the study area for a variety of purposes, including food, medicinal, traditional practices, production of crafts, and ceremonial purposes. For example, Pueblo people continue to use clays for pottery, use natural pigments as body paint, and use traditional plants and animals for consumption, medicines, and ceremonial purposes. Each Pueblo's identity, history, and sense of being are directly linked to its traditions, which are in turn firmly rooted in the natural world. The Pueblo people share a world-view that ties them to the earth and water, believing that they are one, bound together to bring the riches of the earth for the people of the Pueblo. This concept has given the Pueblo people the foresight to understand the uses and capabilities of what could be produced and sustained both in the present and for the generations to come. Pueblo customs and practices govern every aspect of life at each Pueblo, including the management and use of natural resources. Each Pueblo considers threats to the natural resources in and around LANL as threats to their very existence. It is therefore critical to understand that, in the Pueblo belief system, the relative health of the natural environment of the Pueblos circling LANL is intrinsically related to the physical, emotional and communal health and welfare of these Pueblo communities.

Pueblo de San Ildefonso

As noted above, operations at LANL have resulted in the release of contaminants to the environment including to Pueblo lands and areas used by Pueblo members. In particular, these releases have resulted in contamination of the groundwater and soils and waters of the canyon systems on which LANL was built, many of which flow directly onto Pueblo lands. It is the Pueblo’s belief that activities at LANL have impacted not only the natural environment, but also the traditional/religious uses of those natural resources within the Ancestral Domain that are still recognized as “sacred” by the people of the Pueblo.

Santa Clara Pueblo

Santa Clara Pueblo is concerned in particular with potential impacts of air deposition and contaminant transport via particulates from historic and on-going LANL activities. The Pueblo is downwind of LANL and wind rose and monitoring data by both the Pueblo and LANL show that the prevailing winds come from the southwest (from LANL towards Santa Clara Pueblo). Santa Clara Pueblo also is concerned about whether the fault system underlying LANL, which connects to the Santa Clara Pueblo landbase, provides a means of transport for groundwater contamination since the termination of various south-north trending concealed active faults, such as the Sawyer Canyon Fault, is not fully understood.

Jemez Pueblo

Unlike the other three Accord Pueblos, the Pueblo of Jemez is located on the western side of the Pajarito Ridge. The main potential contaminant pathway from LANL is air emissions that drift over the Ridge into the Valles Caldera, primarily during winter months. The headwaters of the Jemez River form in the expansive Valles Grande within the Caldera. A concern of Pueblo members is that the river serves as a pathway for contaminants from LANL deposited in the Caldera to the Pueblo proper. The river water is used for irrigating crops which are staples of the Jemez diet, and shallow wells drilled in the river alluvium are the sole source of drinking water at the Pueblo and another potential contamination pathway.

The proximity of LANL to hundreds of Jemez archeological and cultural resources, particularly in the Valles Caldera, is of great concern to the Jemez people. Shrines, plant and animal collection sites, holy trails, and artifacts of the Jemez’ presence in the mountains named for them are central to the daily lives of the Jemez people. Pilgrimages to Redondo Peak and other peaks within the Caldera on sacred trails used by the Jemez for centuries are a frequent activity for most Jemez tribal members.


Wildfires are an important influence on the New Mexico landscape, including ecosystems in the LANL area. Since the 20th century, large wildfires have swept through the Jemez Mountains in roughly twenty year cycles. In 1954, the Water Canyon Fire burned large portions of the Water Canyon watershed and consumed nearly 3,000 acres. In 1977, the La Mesa Fire burned 15,444 acres of pine forests in the Jemez Mountains, including portions of Ancho and Water Canyon watersheds. In 1996, the Dome Fire burned more than 16,000 acres of forestland in the Jemez Mountains (University of Arizona 2012); and in 1998, the Oso Fire burned approximately 5,185 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest.

More recently, extended drought has caused the region surrounding LANL to be susceptible to fires. The Thompson Ridge Fire impacted the Valles Caldera in the summer of 2013. In 2000, approximately 43,000 acres of forest in and around LANL burned during the Cerro Grande fire. Approximately 7,684 acres, or 28 percent of the vegetation at LANL, was burned to varying degrees by the fire (LANL 2007). Furthermore, significant portions of the watersheds that cross LANL were affected, including Guaje, Rendija, Pueblo, Los Alamos, Pajarito, and Water Canyon watersheds. In 2011, the Las Conchas fire burned approximately 156,600 acres in the Jemez Mountains, including portions of the Los Alamos, Pajarito and Water Canyon watersheds and over 16,000 acres of forested lands in the Santa Clara Creek watershed of Santa Clara Pueblo. Except for a one-acre spot fire in TA-49, no LANL property was burned (LANL 2011b).While many of these fires are naturally-occurring and can help reset ecological communities, all fires have the potential to affect natural resources and the human use of those resources, as well as the fate and transport of hazardous contaminants released to the environment. For example, in an analysis of a suite of contaminants in storm water immediately after the Cerro Grande fire, global fallout-associated radionuclides (cesium-137 and strontium-90) and metals (copper, lead, manganese, selenium, strontium, uranium, and zinc) were elevated above pre-fire levels in Los Alamos Canyon. These contaminants appeared to be associated with mobilized sediment (Johansen et al. 2001). Such mobilization has the potential to move released hazardous substances away from their origin of release, down canyons, and into lower drainages and ultimately the Rio Grande. In addition, it has the potential to make more bioavailable contaminants that might otherwise be bound to soils. As such, historical fires and the potential for future wildfires to affect baseline conditions and
the movement of contaminants will be taken into consideration by the LANLTC in the damage assessment process, as necessary within each of the assessment activities to be discussed in this Plan.

To date, as noted above, the LANLTC has completed the Preassessment Phase, and released the Preassessment Screen in January 2010. The LANLTC is now undergoing the Assessment Plan Phase. The Assessment Phase, which includes drafting this Plan and conducting the NRDA, includes the following six steps:

> Assessment planning,
> Pathway determination,
> Injury determination,
> Injury quantification,
> Damage determination, and
> Restoration.


The geographic scope of the assessment area includes all locations where contaminants have come to be located. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

> LANL property and vicinity (i.e., Los Alamos County lands);

> Natural resources within areas “…belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by the United States… any State or local government, any foreign government, any Indian tribe…” (43 C.F.R. § 11.14(z));

> The Rio Grande River extending from those areas adjacent to the LANL property downstream to, and including, Cochiti Reservoir;

> The Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP);

> The geographic dimensions of contaminated groundwater plumes from releases from LANL operations.


Department of the Interior (DOI) / The Department of the Interior manages public lands and minerals, national parks, and wildlife refuges and upholds Federal trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and Native Alaskans. Additionally, Interior is responsible for endangered species conservation and other environmental conservation efforts.

DOI Agencies:

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) / The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) / The Bureau of Land Management manages outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production on public lands.

Bureau of Reclamation / The Bureau of Reclamation is a provider of wholesale water, and hydroelectric power in the U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service / The Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats.

National Park Service (NPS) / The National Park Service cares for the more than 400 national parks in the U.S. The National Park Service also partners with local communities to assist in historic preservaton and the creation and maintenance of recreational spaces.

Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement / The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement works to protect populations and the environment during surface coal mining operations. The Office also works to clean and put to good use abandoned mine sites. These missions are accomplished primarily through regulation and oversight of state programs.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) / The U.S. Geological Survey is the nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency. It collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding of natural resource conditions, issues, and problems.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chemical Weapons Waste Coming to NM?

The following story, which should be of interest to the citizens of New Mexico, appeared this morning in El Pais, the foremost newspaper of Madrid, Spain. Evidently, and of this moment, the story has not appeared in the American press:

 Dateline 23 Novenber 2013,  San José, Costa Rica

 "EEUU trasladará armas químicas de Panamá a Nuevo Mexico"

[The United States will transport chemical weapons from Panama to New Mexico]

 "Estados Unidos prometió a Panamá que un peligroso cargamento de armas químicas que tropas estadounidenses abandonaron desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial en una pequeña isla panameña en el litoral Pacífico, será trasladado al estado de Nuevo México y sepultado en depósitos en el desierto de esa zona del sur estadounidense."

 [The United States promised Panama that a dangerous arsenal of chemical weapons, left over from WW II, and abandoned by US troops on a small Panamanian island off the pacific coast, will be shipped to New Mexico and buried in pits in the southern desert of the United States.]

 "El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Panamá informó que el Departamento de Defensa (Pentágono) enviará 'un equipo técnico de seis expertos', en una fecha a definir, para que revise la 'fragilidad de las armas químicas', que quedaron como desechos en San José, pequeña isla panameña del Océano Pacífico ubicada a poco más de 80 kilómetros al sur de tierra continental. El objetivo es 'moverlas y trasladarlas, vía transporte marítimo, hacia el desierto de Nuevo México, donde serán sepultadas', informó el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Panamá, Fernando Núñez Fábrega, a la prensa internacional acreditada en la capital panameña."

 [The Panamanian Minister of External Relations announced that the Department of Defense (Pentagon) will send a technical team of six experts, at a date to be determined, in order to inspect the condition of the chemical weapons that have been discarded on San Jose, a small island off the Pacific coast, located more than 80 kilometers to the south of the mainland. The intention is to transport them by ship to the desert of New Mexico where they will be buried, said the Minister of External Relations of Panama, Fernando Nunez Fabrega, to the accredited international press in the Panamanian capital.]

 "Peligrosos basureros con toneladas de bombas y municiones de armas químicas—gas mostaza y agentes nerviosos, asfixiantes y venenosos—y convencionales usadas por el ejército de Estados Unidos en experimentos bélicos durante el siglo XX, ya fuera en la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1939—1945) para alistar la invasión a Japón o en la guerra de Vietnam (1964-1975), fueron abandonados por tropas estadounidenses en la isla, aunque también en áreas militares aledañas al Canal de Panamá que sirvieron como polígonos de tiro."

 [Dangerous wastes made up of tons of bombs and other chemical weapons - mustard gas and nerve agents, designed both to asfixiate and to poison, as well as other devices for use by US forces in military actions during WW II (1939-1945), and in order to prepare for the invasion of Japan, or for possible use in Vietnam (1964-1975,) were abandoned by US troops on the island, as well as in military zones adjacent to the Panama Canal that served as firing ranges.]

 "Los depósitos y botaderos son parte del legado de Estados Unidos al finalizar en 1999 su presencia militar en Panamá, que se inició en 1903 y durante la que utilizó a San José como plataforma de experimentos militares con armas químicas, con apoyo de los ejércitos de Canadá y Reino Unido de 1943 a 1947, y a las riberas del Canal como campos de tiro."

 [The waste dumps are part of a legacy left behind by the US following the termination of its military presence in Panama in 1999, a presence which began in 1903 and during which it used San Jose as a laboratory for experiments with chemical weapons, together with the armies of Canada and Great Britain from 1943 to 1947, and used the shores of the Canal as a free fire zone.]


Friday, November 22, 2013

Together We Thrive?

In a series of scholarly papers published, in 2007, in the journal "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" the authors O. B. Toon,, R. P. Turco, A. Robock, C. Bardeen, L. Oman, and G. L. Stenchikov described the results of their computer-based simulations of global climate, following the detonation of a number of relatively small nuclear weapons (15 kt each) in several major cities of the northern hemisphere. [Robock, A., Oman, L., Stenchikov, G. L., Toon, O. B., Bardeen, C., and Turco, R. P.: Climate consequences of regional nuclear conflicts, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 2003–2012, 2007,]

 For example, following a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan, employing just 100 such nuclear weapons, uncontrollable fires burning in ruined cities on the Indian sub-continent would, over a period of days, loft a mass of soot into the upper atmosphere, which was estimated to be as large as 5 million tons.

 The climate model showed that this large mass of soot would be distributed within weeks over the entire northern hemisphere, and then more slowly over the southern hemisphere. Within months, global temperatures were seen to fall as much as 1.3 degree C, with a recovery time calculated to be as long as ~10 years.

 The consequences for agriculture of a global fall in temperatures of 1.3 degree C, extending over at least a several year period, were considered to be dire. A global decrease in the available food supply was estimated to be as large as 20%. Under such conditions, it was said, starvation would be widespread, especially in the third world, and casualties due to famine would probably far exceed those due to the direct effects of nuclear weapons; e.g., possibly as many as 1 billion people would die from starvation, whereas the number of prompt deaths due to blast, fire, and radiation were expected to exceed tens of millions of people.

 The climate model was the state-of-the-art general circulation model, ModelE, from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which included a module to calculate the transport and removal of aerosol particles. It is able to represent the atmosphere up to a height of 80 km, and simulates plume rise to the middle and upper stratosphere, producing a long aerosol lifetime. The atmospheric model was connected to a full ocean general circulation model, with simulated sea ice, allowing the ocean to respond quickly at the surface and on yearly time scales in the deeper ocean.

 This work was a continuation of well-known past work, circa 1985, describing so-called nuclear winter scenarios. In that work, nuclear exchanges between the USSR and the USA were found to cause large decreases in global temperatures, lasting for long periods of time. But, it is now thought that these scenarios actually underestimated the climatic effects of large-scale nuclear exchanges, due to inadequate simulation of the degree to which soot would be lofted into the upper atmosphere. [Crutzen, P. J. and Birks, J. W.: The atmosphere after a nuclear war: Twilight at noon, Ambio, 11, 114–125, 1982; Turco, R. P., Toon, O. B., Ackerman, T. P., Pollack, J. B., and Sagan, C.: Nuclear winter: Global consequences of multiple nuclear explosions, Science, 222, 1283–1292, 1983; Pittock, A. B., Ackerman, T. P., Crutzen, P. J., MacCraken, M. C., Shapiro, C. S., and Turco, R. P.: Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War SCOPE-28, Vol. 1, Physical and Atmospheric Effects, Wiley, Chichester, England, 1985 (Second ed. 1989).]

 Using improved models for soot transport, changes of global climate following a nuclear exchange between the USSR and the USA of a combined total of 1750 Mt of TNT equivalent, over a period of one week, was simulated. This scenario involved the injection of 50 million tons of soot into the upper atmosphere and, following an initiation period of a few months, led to reductions in global temperature of 3.5 degree C, lasting for ~3 years, decreasing to ~1.5 degree C after 10 years. [Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals, A. Robock, L. Oman, and G. L. Stenchikov, J. of Geophys. Research, Vol. 112, D13107, doi:10.1029/2006JD008235, 2007.]

 The extraordinary results obtained from these simulations have been public information now for 6 years. However, the amount of media discussion that has been provoked is minimal. Insofar as USA national policy is concerned, public attention today is fixed instead on other important matters such as unemployment, the budget deficit, the Affordable Care Act, and the so-called "nuclear option" in the US Senate.

 Although the media are also very much interested in the ongoing struggle with Iran over its enrichment of uranium, and its construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor which will enable it to produce plutonium, little or no energy is being spent on contemplation of the looming disaster represented by the remnant ~5,000 nuclear weapons in each of the arsenals of the USSR and the USA, and the 100's of nuclear weapons possessed by England, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel.

 I agree that allowing the number of members of the nuclear club to increase represents a present danger to us all. However, the retention of ~10,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the established nuclear weapons club members is, I believe, an even bigger threat.

 Somehow, it must be possible to so stigmatize the use of nuclear weapons, that even their possession will ultimately be deemed unacceptable by the world's people. If the USA does not lead the way to the abolition of nuclear weapons, then what nation will?

 The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will be up for review in 2015, but signs for the continuation of effective prohibitions on the development of nuclear weapons, by non-nuclear weapons states, are not good. Many nations of the world are unhappy with the lack of significant progress toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, promised for the last 40 years by members of the nuclear weapons club.

 It seems altogether right then that the USA should attempt to break through this logjam of fatalism and distrust by drastically, and if needs be unilaterally, reducing the numbers of nuclear weapons in its own arsenal; e.g., to well below 1000 nuclear weapons.

 It seems right too that the USA should set an example by stopping the development of new technologies geared toward the extension of the lifetimes of its stockpiled nuclear weapons and, above all, by ending research focused on accumulating more knowledge of the science and engineering of nuclear weapons; i.e., such knowledge which may enable the creation of a new generation of still more destructive nuclear weapons.

 The USSR, under M. Gorbachov, showed the world that Cold War hostilities could be checked, and for a while reversed. Now it's up to the USA to play an essential role in the reduction of global tensions. If left to fester, these tensions, along with developing new nuclear weapons technologies may, in my opinion, lead eventually to the extermination of us as a species.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

US Nuclear Explosions: a Thing of the Past?

Jeremy Bernstein, well-known author and former physicist, opines at the end of an article entitled "At Los Alamos: Learning to Love the Bomb", and appearing in the November 2013 issue of the American Physical Society News, that:

"The last above-ground nuclear test by the United States took place in 1962, ... . This is certainly a good thing. But I have only one misgiving. No one has seen a nuclear explosion in more than thirty years and the number of people who have ever seen one is dwindling. For most people, nuclear weapons are an abstraction. Perhaps there should be one more explosion in the desert of Nevada to remind us."

Now, this seems to me to be a truly bizarre suggestion! Perhaps Mr. Bernstein has been dithered by worry over the ongoing construction, in Iran, of the heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak, and the possible use by the Iranians of the plutonium which will be produced by this reactor, to build a nuclear weapon. Indeed, he has recently expressed his unease about the Arak reactor in an article in the New York Review of Books, dated 11 Nov 2013, and entitled "Iran's Plutonium Game."

Nevertheless, the idea of an above-ground nuclear explosion in Nevada, the purpose of which would be to "remind us" that nuclear weapons are not an abstraction: well, it just takes one's breath away.

Meanwhile, it seems to me that we might all be more concerned by the not remote possibility of an above-ground explosion of a nuclear weapon, within the borders of the United States, purposed by the agents of some adversarial nation-state or by an ad hoc group of self-appointed haters, and in the not so very distant future.

Monday, November 11, 2013

DNFSB Questions Nuke Lab Safety

Safety problems persist and expand throughout the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons complex. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, in its latest report to Congress, cites Los Alamos National Laboratory as being the most problematic in this regard. Other troubled sites are the Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Hanford site, the Savannah River site, the Pantex site, and the Nevada National Security site.

On 30 October 2013, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) issued its “Fourth Annual Report to Congress: Summary of Significant Safety-Related Aging Infrastructure Issues at Operating Defense Nuclear Facilities.”  Quoting now from that report, which is available online:

“DNFSB believes this report provides a means of keeping all parties apprised of safety-related concerns regarding aging infrastructure at Department of Energy (DOE) defense nuclear facilities.”

“DOE relies on several facilities that are at or near the end of life, but still must carry out national security and legacy waste cleanup missions.”

“Two of the most critical facilities are the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR)
Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), constructed in 1952, and the 9212
Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex that began service in 1951.”

“DOE deferred funding for the CMR Replacement Project for five years, and expects to operate the existing CMR Facility through 2019.”

“The 9212 Complex [at Y-12] is comprised of Building 9212 and thirteen collocated buildings, portions of which have been in operation for more than 60 years. The Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is scheduled to replace the 9212 Complex, but DOE does not plan to commence operations in UPF until 2025.”

“A third facility of concern to the Board is the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) at LANL. PF-4
was designed and constructed in the 1970s and lacks the structural ductility and redundancy required by today's building codes and standards. In 2007, a DOE-required periodic reanalysis of the seismic threat present at the Los Alamos site was completed. It indicated a greater than fourfold increase in the predicted earthquake ground motion. Total facility collapse is now considered a credible event. PF-4, the nation's sole plutonium fabrication center, contains significant amounts of plutonium, much of it in a form that is readily dispersible (i.e., powders and liquids), and is stored in containers that have not been certified to survive facility collapse. The resulting radiation dose consequence to the public following such an event was determined to exceed DOE's allowed evaluation levels by several orders of magnitude. The Board formally identified its concerns with the issuance of Recommendation 2009-2, Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Facility Seismic Safety.”
“In response to this increased seismic threat, LANL undertook a series of actions to
improve the safety posture of PF-4. These actions included efforts to reduce the likelihood and severity of a post-seismic fire, and address the nine known building weaknesses that could lead to loss of PF-4' s ability to confine its nuclear material or total structural collapse. A more detailed seismic analysis to further refine PF-4's response to a major earthquake was also undertaken and completed in September 2012. It identified two additional weaknesses that would result in collapse. Detailed planning to address these weaknesses has been initiated by LANL.”

“DNFSB, in its July 18, 2012, letter, expressed concern that this latest analysis was proceeding without adequate definition and technical justification. Subsequently, the Deputy Secretary of Energy, in his September 28, 2012, response to DNFSB, reported that he had directed the National Nuclear Security Administration to initiate action to evaluate PF-4 using a second modeling approach. This alternate analysis is currently being performed by an independent engineering firm. Final results are expected in December 2013. DNFSB awaits these results before reaching final conclusions on the appropriate urgency of compensatory and corrective actions.”

“PF-4 Safety System Reliability: [this building] lacks … fire-suppression systems and [an] active-confinement ventilation system that would adequately protect the public and workers from the consequences associated with post-seismic accidents.”

“Other facilities meriting continued attention are the high-level waste tank farms at the
Hanford Site and the Savannah River Site, the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at LANL, and T Plant (Waste Storage, Treatment, and Packaging Operations) at the Hanford Site.”


“The following are the most significant safety-related aging infrastructure issues that exist today in the DOE defense nuclear complex”:

• “Los Alamos National Laboratory, Plutonium Facility (PF-4) - seismic fragility of building, and degraded safety system reliability: [DNFSB completed] seismic analyses
of PF-4 in May 2011 and September 2012 [and] identified building vulnerabilities
that could result in loss of confinement, or facility collapse, with resulting high radiological dose consequences to workers and the public. [Also,] the facility lacks a set of  safety controls (fire suppression systems and active confinement ventilation systems) that  would adequately protect  the public and workers from consequences associated with post-seismic accidents.”  

• “Los Alamos National Laboratory, Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility (CMR) - seismic fragility of building: [DNFSB estimates that] there is a 1 in 55 chance of seismic collapse during a ten year time-frame, which would result in release of nuclear material, and injury/death of facility workers.”

• “Los Alamos National Laboratory, Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility-building and equipment end of life. RLWTF has reached its end of life and despite ongoing life-extension efforts, requires replacement to support future laboratory missions
reliably. Equipment failures pose a risk to facility workers.”

• “Nevada National Security Site, Device Assembly Facility - degradation of water tank and fire suppression system lead-ins.”

• “Pantex Plant, Site-Wide Fire Suppression Systems – degradation of fire-suppression systems.”

• “Y-12 National Security Complex, 9212 Complex-seismic and high wind fragility of building, and building and equipment end of life.”

• “Hanford Site, Single-Shell and Double-Shell Tank Farms-aging tanks.”

• “Hanford Site, T Plant (Waste Storage, Treatment, and Packaging Operations) - seismic fragility of building.”

• “Savannah River Site, H-Canyon - aging systems and structures.”

• “Savannah River Site, Tank Farms - aging tanks.”

• “Savannah River Site, A-Area, Fire Protection Water Supply Systems - degraded pumps and tank.”


• “Hanford Site, Double-Shell Tank Farms - aging tanks.”

• “Savannah River Site, A-Area, Fire Protection Water Supply Systems - degraded
pumps and tank.”


• “None”

“As directed by Congress, DNFSB will continue to exercise its existing statutory authority in addressing these and other safety-related issues within the DOE defense nuclear complex.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Scientist Rebels

The following is reprinted from The Atlantic Monthly, issue of January, 1947:

The letter which follows was addressed by one of our ranking mathematicians to a research scientist of a great aircraft corporation, who had asked him for the technical account of a certain line of research he had conducted in the war (i.e., during WW II.) Professor Wiener's indignation at being requested to participate in indiscriminate rearmament, less than two years after victory, is typical of many American scientists who served their country faithfully during the war.

Professor of Mathematics in one of our great Eastern institutions (MIT), Norbert Wiener was born in Columbia, Mis­souri, in 1894, the son of Leo Wiener, Professor of Slavic Languages at Harvard University. He took his doctorate at Harvard and did his graduate work in England and in Gottingen. Today he is esteemed one of the world's foremost mathematical analysts. His ideas played a significant part in the development of the theories of communication and control which were essential in winning the war.

  Editor, The Atlantic Monthly


I have received from you a note in which you state that you are engaged in a project concerning controlled missiles, and in which you request a copy of a paper which I wrote for the National Defense Research Committee during the war (WW II.) As the paper is the property of a government organization, you are of course at complete liberty to turn to that govern­ment organization for such information as I could give you. If
it is out of print as you say, and they desire to make it available for you, there are doubtless proper avenues of approach to them.

When, however, you turn to me for information concerning controlled missiles, there are several considerations which determine my reply. In the past, the comity of scholars has made it a custom to furnish scientific information to any person seriously seeking it. However, we must face these facts: the policy of the government itself during and after the war, say in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has made it clear that to provide scientific information is not a necessarily innocent act, and may entail the gravest consequ­ences. One therefore cannot escape reconsidering the estab­lished custom of the scientist to give information to every person who may enquire of him. The interchange of ideas which is one of the great traditions of science must of course receive certain limitations when the scientist becomes an arbiter of life and death.

For the sake, however, of the scientist and the public, these limitations should be as intelligent as possible. The measures taken during the war by our military agencies, in restricting the free intercourse among scientists on related projects or even on the same project, have gone so far that it is clear that if continued in time of peace this policy will lead to the total irresponsibility of the scientist, and ultimately to the death of
science. Both of these are disastrous for our civilization, and entail grave and immediate peril for the public.

I realize, of course, that I am acting as the censor of my own ideas, and it may sound arbitrary, but I will not accept a censorship in which I do not participate. The experience of the scientists who have worked on the atomic bomb has indicated that in any investigation of this kind the scientist ends by putting unlimited powers in the hands of the people whom he is least inclined to trust with their use. It is perfectly clear also that to disseminate information about a weapon in the present state of our civilization is to make it practically certain that that weapon will be used. In that respect the controlled missile represents the still imperfect supplement to the atom bomb and to bacterial warfare.

The practical use of guided missiles can only be to kill foreign civilians indiscriminately, and it furnishes no protec­tion whatsoever to civilians in this country. I cannot conceive a situation in which such weapons can produce any effect other than extending the kamikaze way of fighting to whole nations. Their possession can do nothing but endanger us by encouraging the tragic insolence of the military mind. If therefore I do not desire to participate in the bombing or poisoning of defenseless peoples - and I most certainly do not - I must take a serious responsibility as to those to whom I disclose my scientific ideas.

Since it is obvious that with sufficient effort you can obtain my material, even though it is out of print, I can only protest pro forma in refusing to give you any information concerning my past work. However, I rejoice at the fact that my material is not readily available, inasmuch as it gives me the opportunity to raise this serious moral issue. I do not expect to publish any future work of mine which may do damage in the hands of irresponsible militarists.

I am taking the liberty of calling this letter to the attention of other people in scientific work. I believe it is only proper that they should know of it in order to make their own independent decisions, if similar situations should confront them.

Norbert Wiener

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ground Water Monitoring Wells at LANL

The Department Of Energy Office of the Inspector General recently issued a report about alterations made to the methodology in use at Los Alamos National Laboratory for installing characterization and monitoring wells. These wells, of which there are 32 in number, have been deemed necessary to determine the type and extent of groundwater contamination by detritus from the nuclear weapons program. (See IG Report No. INS-L-13-05, dated 9 July, 2013, available on the DOE's website.)

 The installation of characterization and monitoring wells into the regional aquifer underlying LANL has been a contentious topic for the past ~10 years. At issue has been the use of an apparently inappropriate technology for the drilling of these wells; specifically, the use of the mud rotary drilling method. It has now been admitted by LANL authorities that the use of drilling muds to facilitate the drilling process, a standard practice in some parts of the well-drilling industry, was probably misguided, since residual muds left in the well bore acted to obscure the presence of chemical and radioactive contaminants in the well water.

 This defeated the whole purpose of the characterization and monitoring well program, which was to detect the type and measure the extent of groundwater contamination by chemical toxins and radioactive poisons from the nuclear weapons program.

 The IG's report points out that LANL no longer uses the mud enhanced drilling methodology, having substituted air and/or drilling foam for mud. Meanwhile, wells that have been drilled with mud have been, to some extent and where possible, rehabiliated. Hence, the IG's report says that " ... steps had been taken to ensure that data derived from monitoring wells is more reliable."

 What the IG's report does not make clear is that a large fraction of the wells that are now in place at LANL have been drilled with mud, and that the rehabilitation of such wells is itself a fraught process.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Plutonium in the News

On June 27, 2013 the Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Charles McMillan, announced to LANL staff that he was temporarily halting plutonium operations at PF-4. Evidently, this was in response to a report by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of the Inspector General, released to the public three days earlier, in which LANL's plutonium  operations were criticized as being unsafe. The DOE's report followed analyses by the Congressionally mandated Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) of the hazardous conditions at PF-4. And today, the DNFSB continues to bring these conditions to the attention of the new DOE Secretary Ernest J. Moniz.

Meanwhile, in spite of LANL's having signed an agreement with the State of New Mexico to make all of its environmentally relevant information available to the general public, none of this information about potential hazards at PF-4 can be found on LANL's website.

DOE - Office of the Inspector General (taken from DOE website):

AUDIT REPORT: OAS-M-13-04  / June 24, 2013 / Mitigation of Natural Disasters at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos) is at some risk of seismic events and susceptible to forest fires, including those started by lightning.  Since 2000, there have been two major forest fires that threatened Los Alamos.

Although Los Alamos had made progress in upgrading existing nuclear facilities, concerns remained regarding the mitigation of risks related to natural disasters.  Specifically, we found seismic issues affecting the Plutonium Facility that remain to be addressed.  Additionally, we found that fire protection and prevention vulnerabilities in Area G Waste Storage and Disposal Facility (Area G) continue to exist.  Further, we found that several known risks exist with compensatory measures implemented in Area G that may lessen their efficacy in mitigating natural disasters.  Los Alamos' processes and procedures have not always been fully effective in ensuring that hazards, including natural disasters, are fully analyzed and effectively mitigated.

National Nuclear Security Administration officials responsible for overseeing Los Alamos pointed out that decisions to budget and schedule mitigation measures are based on factors including the probability of an event occurring, such as a seismic event, and whether a structure is considered to be a permanent or limited life facility.  While a number of compensatory and corrective actions have been completed, in our view, further actions are needed to mitigate existing vulnerabilities.  Management concurred with the report's recommendations and indicated that corrective actions have been or would be initiated to mitigate potential risks.

July 15, 2013

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) writes to the new Department Of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest J. Moniz:

The staff of DNFSB performed a review of the Criticality Safety Program at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in May 2013. This review indicated significant non-compliances with applicable DOE requirements and industry standards ... . In addition, this review identified criticality safety concerns stemming from weaknesses in the conduct of operations at the Plutonium Facility. The Board notes that some of these deficiencies are long standing and indicate flaws in the federal oversight and contractor assurance systems.

The Board is aware that the Laboratory Director paused programmatic activities in the Plutonium Facility on June 27, 2013. ... the Board requests a report and briefing by the National Nuclear Security Administration ... that details a) any corrective actions NNSA is taking to incorporate criticality safety controls into procedures, ..., b) any root causes NNSA has identified for recent criticality safety infractions, and c) any improvements NNSA has determined are needed to the federal oversight and contractor assurance systems relative to criticality safety, conduct of operations, and effectiveness of corrective actions.

July 17, 2013

DNFSB writes again to DOE Secretary Ernest J. Moniz:

The DNFSB is responding to former DOE Secretary Chu's March 27, 2013 letter assessing public and worker protection for a seismic collapse scenario at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Plutonium Facility (PF-4). In that letter, Sec. Chu concluded that PF-4 can continue to operate safely, provide its confinement safety function, and meet the DOE's quantitative safety objectives ... .

The Board does not agree with the methodology used by the LANL contractor for the seismic analysis upon which Sec. Chu based his conclusions. Consequently, the Board does not agree with the NNSA's conclusion that these modeling results demonstrate compliance with DOE standards for confinement integrity following a design basis earthquake. ... .

Friday, June 28, 2013

Progress is Very Slow

In a letter dated 20 June, 2013 the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board congratulated Dr. Ernest Moniz upon his appointment as the new Department of Energy Secretary. The Board went on to remind the new Secretary of the challenges facing him, of which the most pressing was the possible collapse of the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the event of a design basis earthquake.

 The Board noted that its previous studies of seismic hazards at LANL had shown that the collapse of PF-4 during a design basis earthquake was a plausible outcome, along with the release of massive amounts of plutonium dust into the air over the nearby communities. Subsequently, LANL's own in-house analysis showed that the risk of such a catastrophic accident was not negligible. Consequently, LANL has been working to upgrade the earthquake resistance of PF-4, as well as to reduce the amount of plutonium being stored at the site.

 Citizen activist groups in the Los Alamos area have continued to remind the DOE of its obligation to protect
surrounding communities from the dangers inherent in having a nuclear weapons lab in their midst. These groups have provided input to the DNFSB, supporting its judgement of the dire effects on local populations of a design basis seismic event at PF-4. (For example, see my blogpost of 24 Nov 2011 entitled "Accidental Fall-out from LANL.")

 The Obama Administration has announced its intent to abandon construction of the Mixed OXide waste plutonium fuel facility at the Savannah River nuclear weapons site, the escalating costs of this unfinished factory having been judged to be prohibitive. However, no acceptable alternative plan for disposition of plutonium from retired nuclear weapons is being proposed. An unintended consequence of this failure to follow through with the MOX fuel program may be the collapse of the agreement with the Russians to dispose of excess plutonium from nuclear weapons. (See my blogpost of 22 Aug 2012 entitled "MOX Redux: Better to Bury than to Burn?")

 The Obama Administration has also announced its intent to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads in the US arsenal to ~1000, contingent upon the Russians agreeing to a similar reduction. However, the Russians have expressed an unwillingness to proceed, citing America's threatening increase in the size of its anti-ballistic missile forces. (Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.)

 Finally, the Obama Administration intends to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, especially from coal burning power plants, principally by EPA regulations authorized under the Clean Air Act. As an important component of this program, construction of new nuclear power plants is being encouraged. (See the Presidents speech at Georgetown University on 25 June 2013.) Unfortunately, however, no provision is being made for the disposition of waste from these new power plants, nor for the disposition of waste from the ~100 aging nuclear power plants still in operation. (A problem since the Administration decided to abandon construction of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in 2010.)

 Saturday, 29 June 2013: Both the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Los Alamos Monitor report that the LANL Director Charles McMillan announced on Thursday that certain operations involving plutonium at PF-4 will be halted until safety problems identified in a recent DOE Office of the Inspector General report have been mitigated. This report, entitled "Mitigation of Natural Disasters at Los Alamos National Laboratory", and dated June 2013, is available online. It makes for some very interesting reading.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why a Nuke Park?

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, in 1997 received a doctorate in civil engineering and traffic transportation planning from Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST)) boasted recently about his country's accumulating knowledge of the difficult, dirty, and dangerous technology of nuclear weapons. He made his brag about Iran's progress toward mastering this antiquated form of weapons science and engineering on National Technology Day, a holiday created some years ago by Mr. Ahmadinejad himself, while attempting to stir public interest in Iran's "nuclear energy achievements". He also reported about Iran's recent "development of five new medicines and a homemade electron accelerator". Perhaps he hoped that these modest claims will help to give Iran some "street cred"; i.e, akin to that of the bizarrely bellicose North Korea, with its recent development and testing of small nuclear devices, along with the missiles which may eventually be able to deliver them to distant targets.

Meanwhile, in the USA there is an ongoing effort among military enthusiasts to commemorate the 1940's design and testing of American nuclear weapons in the form of a system of national parks proposed for Los Alamos, NM, Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA. The motivation underlying this project is unclear: is this seemingly boastful idea simply fear-driven, or is it an expression of some American bellicosity?

Los Alamos was where the nuclear bombs were first designed and built, Oak Ridge was where U235 fuel for the Hiroshima bomb (Little Boy) was obtained (purified from naturally occurring uranium in a gaseous diffusion process), and Hanford was where Pu239 for the Nagasaki bomb (Fat Man) was produced (by chemical extraction from the radioactive detritus of dedicated nuclear reactors.) The Hiroshima bomb of 6 Aug 1945 killed between 90,000 and 166,000 persons; the Nagasaki bomb of 9 Aug 1945 killed upwards of 40,000 persons. However, neither of these two attacks were quite as deadly as the 9-10 March, 1945 attack on Tokyo by B-29's armed with incendiary bombs; in this raid, more than 100,000 people died. Earlier, in the bombing of Dresden, on nights between 13-15 Feb 1945, more than 22,000 persons died. Presumably, none of these horrifying facts would be mentioned on any of the placards adorning the proposed national parks.

To celebrate the creation of weapons of mass destruction in a national park setting, a setting normally geared towards serene contemplation, and towards the diversion and education of young people, seems wrong-headed in the extreme. The weapons enthusiasts who are making this bizarre proposal should be ashamed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DOE/NNSA Safety Problems

As Department Of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) struggles to maintain the viability of the U. S. nuclear weapons complex, new problems have emerged with its safety practices. These problems may be a reflection of the inherent difficulty of dealing consistently and successfully with the antiquated and dangerous technology of nuclear weapons.

Today, the New York Time's Matthew Wald described the continued failure of DOE/NNSA to complete the Hanford, Washington  Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) construction project. Currently, it is estimated that this project has been 60% completed, and that its total cost will be in excess of $12 billion. Many problems with the design of WTP have been identified recently, which reflect safety concerns, and required changes to the design may be extensive. Senator Ron Wyden (Dem. Oregon), who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, with DOE oversight responsibility, is focusing his attention on this problem.
1 April 2013 / In a letter, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Chairman Peter Winokur reported to U. S. Sen. Ron Wyden about the state of nuclear safety at Hanford Site. Three separate areas of concern were addressed: (1) safety issues associated with the Hanford Tank Farms; (2) unresolved technical matters related to the design of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP); (3) the current state of Hanford's safety culture. DNFSB performed this study at Sen. Wyden's request.
27 March 2013 / Outgoing DOE Sec. Chu wrote to DNFSB to inform them that the status of the safety upgrade at LANL's PF-4 (Plutonium Facility) has progressed to the extent that he now felt it acceptable to proceed with normal operations at PF-4. DNFSB had previously pointed out to DOE/NNSA the potentially hazardous conditions existing at PF-4. DNFSB may or may not agree with Chu's latest assessment.
25 March 2013 / Acting DOE Sec. Nielie Miller wrote to DNFSB to inform them of the status of upgrades to the criticality safety program and procedures at all of the DOE/NNSA facilities. The problems with criticality safety procedures at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) seem to be the most serious, when compared with the other DOE/NNSA facilities. By contrast, excellent performance, in terms of criticality safety, has been turned in at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
DNFSB organized the Pantex Public Meeting, of 14 March, 2013, to inquire into alleged deficiencies in Pantex Plant's safety culture:

Testimony (excerpted) of Ms. Neile Miller
Acting Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration
& Acting Under Secretary for Nuclear Security /U.S. Department of Energy

To the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Pantex Plant Public Meeting
Amarillo Civic Center
401 S. Buchanan Street
Amarillo, TX, 79101
14 March 2013

In my time here with you today, I want to assure you of two things. First, I am fully aware of the significant safety culture concerns that have been raised by our workers here at the Pantex Plant. Second, we are engaged in —and fully committed to — the timely resolution of any and all nuclear safety deficiencies within the Department, be they cultural, managerial, contractual, design, or operational in origin. This holds true across the NNSA as well as the broader DOE complex, including Environmental Management. I reaffirm the Administration’s and the Department’s commitment to safe and secure work environments for all Federal and contractor employees.

As you know, the Office of Health, Safety, and Security (HSS) recently completed an assessment  of the safety culture at the Pantex Plant. The results were sobering; so sobering in fact, that my staff immediately convened to discuss options that could be quickly implemented to address these findings, even as we contemplate longer-term actions to fully implement the recommendations from the HSS report

Immediately following the briefing by HSS regarding its safety culture findings at Pantex,  NNSA issued a letter to Babcock & Wilcox /Pantex directing immediate focus at all management and working  levels to a safety conscious work environment (SCWE) for all on-going activities and operations.

As an organization tasked with one of the Nation’s most critical missions, we at DOE understand the fundamental, make-or-break challenges that our work entails. The safe and successful execution of our mission greatly affects our Nation’s safety and security, and demands the very best of all of us, year in and year out. That is why it is so important to embed the commitment to safety deeply in the culture of the NNSA enterprise, so that it will be embraced by all those who succeed us. Our safety culture is critical to protecting and improving the NNSA legacy. We must not fail in this effort.

Our commitment to safety is reflected in the personal passion for safety that the Secretary has expressed on several occasions. His message is clear, and my senior managers and I reinforce it whenever we meet with our workers and stakeholders: The Department has an unwavering commitment to maintain safe and secure work environments for all Federal and contractor employees. Furthermore, we will ensure that the Department’s and contractor’s operations do not adversely affect the health, safety, or security of the surrounding communities or the nation.

Letter (paraphrased) from Paul Matney, Ed. D., President of Amarillo College, dated March 7, 2013 to DNFSB:

President Matney describes the great importance of Babcock & Wilcox /Pantex jobs to the Amarillo community. He says that B&W Pantex is the third largest local employer and gives jobs to 3000 local residents. According to Matney, "Pantex Plant and its workers have long been a vital part of the Texas Panhandle community and its mission remains critical to the safety and security of our nation."

Friday, January 18, 2013

NM Coalition Boosts LANL Programs

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities held its monthly meeting today, Friday, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM, at the Ohkay Owingeh Conference Center, in Española, New Mexico. The meeting was chaired by Alice Lucero, RCLC vice-chairperson and mayor of Española. Attending were ~11 members of RCLC, as well as ~40 non-RCLC members. Mayor Lucero began the meeting by asking each attendee to introduce themself, "in order to see who are the interested parties here." The RCLC, of course, is made up entirely of members of local governments. Making up the audience were a few local anti-nuclear citizen activists, plus a majority of members of groups dependent on the support of state and federal government; e. g., LANL managers, DOE grant recipients, and NMED employees.

The meeting began, oddly, with a statement by an assistant to Juan Griego, the in-coming NNSA site manager at LANL. Mr. Griego thanked the RCLC for its support for his bid for the site manager's job, and expressed his concern for the well-being of each and every citizen of New Mexico. He continued by saying that, however, he would not be able to assume the responsibilities of the site manager's office since he had just accepted a job with the NM National Guard.

Next, RCLC Executive Director De Anza Sapien talked about the RCLC budget for 2013 and about a meeting of the Energy Communities Alliance which she recently attended, along with RCLC chair David Coss, vice-chair Alice Lucero, and RCLC member Fran Berting. Ms. sapiens emphazised that RCLC will try "to get everyone under the tent" when it comes to "supporting the stabilization of funding for LANL". She also announced that the NM State Legislature is issuing a Memorial in support of federal programs in NM. Also, she will ask the State Legislature to advise RCLC on how it may best support future federal funding for LANL.

A representative of Jemez Pueblo reported that she is encouraging more local Pueblos to become members of RCLC.

Alice Lucero said that RCLC should express strong support for all of the facility modernization programs at LANL, in view of the difficulties with funding being experienced recently. She alluded to a RCLC letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu expressing support for planned LANL modernization programs. Included with this letter, she said, and at the behest of Joni Arends of CCNS, was a copy of a letter sent to Sec. Chu by DNFSB. However, she neglected to describe the substance of the DNFSB letter.

Joni Arends then pointed out that the DNFSB, in their recent letter, questioned the safety of the continued operation of  LANL's PF-4 plutonium facility, due to seismic hazards, and in no way could be construed as supporting new construction programs at LANL.

De Anza Sapien said that RCLC must support full funding for the clean up of legacy nuclear waste at LANL (now running at ~$188 million per year.)

LANL environmental managers Peter Maggiore and Jeff Mousseau presented the outline of a formal talk entitled "Fiscal Year 2013 Planning and Continuing the Governor's Priorities." Jeff M. pointed out that TRansUranic (TRU) waste from Area G is being transported to the WIPP site on an expedited scheduled, at the request of the Governor, and as stipulated to by NNSA, LANS and NMED in last year's Framework Agreement. He said that, within the last year, the inventory of above ground TRU waste at Area G has been reduced from 75,000 Plutonium Equivalent Curies (PECi) to 50,000 PECi. This decreases the danger of a dispersal of radioactive materials into the atmosphere in the event of a future wildfire that might pass over Area G. Therefore, at the present rate of removal, all of the above ground TRU waste might be removed within two years. However, he then went on to say that DOE and LANL plan to begin the removal of below ground nuclear waste from Area G; see LA-UR-12-26709.

Although, during his presentation, Jeff M. did not clearly describe the amount of nuclear waste currently held below ground at Area G, he told me later that this was as much as 110,750 PECi. Presumably, since below ground TRU waste must first be transported to an above ground area before it can be shipped off site to WIPP, it will be more than two years before the danger of an atmospheral dispersal of nuclear waste due to wildfire at Area G is eliminated; i.e., ~6 years, at the present rate of TRU waste removal.

[Should it be of concern to the general public that ~100,000 PECi  of nuclear waste remains vulnerable to wildfire at Area G? See my blogposts of Nov. 24, 2011, "Accidental Fall-Out from LANL" and Nov. 18, 2011, "DNFSB Criticizes LANL Risky Practices."]

De Anza Sapien pointed out that RCLC wants local young people to be able to work in the LANL clean up program and supports innovative educational efforts targeted toward this goal.

Carla Rachkowski, of Accelerate Technical Training and Job Placement described her group's efforts to improve the rate of graduation of local students working in two year certificate programs; see

Lastly, local citizens and citizen activists spoke:

  Ray Baca of the Constructions and Trades Union said that he supports the clean up and modernization programs at LANL, and that his union's apprentice program is among the best in the industry.

  Joni Arends talked about safety at PF-4 and the related seismic question, and pointed out that DNFSB considers this issue to be of the utmost importance. She also expressed concern about the above ground TRU waste remaining at Area G and about the danger that wildfire presents to this material.

  Jean Green of Taos said that since RCLC defines the most important part of its mission as support for the clean up of nuclear waste at LANL, the fact that it also supports facilities modernization programs at LANL is a clear contradiction; i.e., since such programs will lead to the production of new nuclear waste. She also claimed that LANL nuclear and chemical waste has poisoned the environment in northern NM, and has led to an elevated incidence of local cancers.

  Melissa .. of Taos asked about the $ cost of removing TRU waste from LANL.

  Scott Kovacs said that he supports the LANL clean up program.

  Thomas Gomez of NNMCAB announced that the CAB will host a forum at Buffalo Thunder resort, on Jan 30, in which the presence of cancer clusters in northern NM will be discussed.

  Holly Beaumont said that NM has the greatest income inequality of any of the 50 states, probably due to an over-dependence  on federal employment, with its over-generous compensation; i.e., since federal employees are just a small fraction of the total of NM workers. She then quoted from Samuel Johnson, 18th century essayist, Anglican, and Tory: "The consequence of poverty is dependency." She also warned about the machinations of Bechtel, the leader of the for-profit group, LANS, which manages LANL for the NNSA.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NNSA: 1% of Budget Reduces US Nuke Number

As the new year begins, federal budgets for FY2013, passed by the previous Congress, are being signed into law by the President. Although a few federal programs will shrink, NNSA's budget for FY2013 will increase by 4.9% to approximately $11.5 billion. Quoting from NNSA's website (, these monies will be allocated as follows:

"The FY 2013 budget provides $7.58 billion to implement the President’s strategy for the stewardship of the nuclear weapons stockpile in coordination with our partners at the Department of Defense. It includes $2.24 billion for facility operation and maintenance, and construction projects, helping NNSA modernize Cold War-era facilities, with increases are requested for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the TRU Waste Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)."

"$51.3 million is provided in FY 2013 to continue reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the United States’ stockpile. NNSA has committed to completing the dismantlement of all warheads retired as of FY 2009 by FY 2022. In FY 2011, NNSA completed the dismantlement of the last B53 nuclear bomb, one of the largest ever built, ahead of schedule and under budget. NNSA also eliminated the W70, the last warhead in the US Army’s arsenal."

"$2.46 billion is requested to help achieve the President’s nonproliferation objectives and NNSA works toward meeting his four-year goal to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. This funding will help complete the removal or disposal of 4,353 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in foreign countries, and provide NNSA with the necessary support to equip approximately 229 total buildings containing weapons-usable material with state-of-the-art security upgrades by the President’s deadline."

"The President also continued to request funding for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility and Waste Solidification Building at the Savannah River Site, critical nonproliferation construction projects. The $569.5 million requested for MOX and related activities this year will lead to the permanent elimination of enough plutonium for at least 8,500 nuclear weapons."

"The FY 2013 budget request gives NNSA the resources needed to maintain its one-of-a-kind emergency response capabilities, which allow NNSA to respond to a nuclear or radiological incident anywhere in the world. In FY 2011, NNSA was able to assist the U.S. military, military families, and the Japanese people by deploying its unique emergency response assets in the aftermath of devastating tsunami that affected the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant." 

"To power the nuclear navy, the budget request includes $1.1 billion for the Naval Reactors program, which will support the OHIO class submarine replacement and modernize key elements NNSA’s infrastructure."

(These separate allocations sum to $11.76 billion.)

It may be of interest to note that NNSA's FY2013 budget provides just $51.3 million "to continue reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the United States’ stockpile", but $7.58 billion to "implement the President’s strategy for the stewardship of the nuclear weapons stockpile in coordination with our partners at the Department of Defense"; i.e., the amount of money assigned to maintain and/or improve the current nuclear weapons stockpile is 148x greater than the amount of money assigned to reducing the size of the stockpile.

Meanwhile, $2.46 billion is assigned to the nuclear non-proliferation program and $569 million "for MOX  and related activities"; but, the MOX program, as advertised, is itself a non-proliferation activity.

No money is assigned by NNSA to the cleanup of legacy nuclear waste; i.e., nuclear wastes which are a legacy of the nuclear weapons program. Rather, this is included as a $5.65 billion line item in DOE's $27.45 billion budget for FY2013. The itemized DOE budget for FY2013 is compared with its budgets for the two preceding years at Money assigned to the cleanup of legacy nuclear waste will be 1.1% less than in FY2012. DOE's total (discretionary) budget will increase by 3.2% relative to FY2012.

It is curious that Sec. of Energy Steven Chu, in his public remarks, dated Dec 21, 2012, celebrating the career of retiring NNSA chief administrator Tom D'Agostino, said (see Press Release section of NNSA's website):

"Under his [D'Agostino's] watch, we have eliminated or secured hundreds of nuclear weapons worth of nuclear materials.  We have reduced the number of deployed warheads to the lowest level since the 1950s—an approximate reduction of 85% from the darkest days of the Cold War – while successfully maintaining the safety, security, and effectiveness of a shrinking stockpile.  Through Environmental Management, we have permanently cleaned up 690 square miles of contaminated land—an area more than 30 times the size of Manhattan—and completed the cleanup of 22 transuranic waste sites across the nation, permanently eliminating an environmental risk at these sites and reducing the cost of monitoring and storing this waste."

But, Sec. Chu chose here to mention only those NNSA operations that tend to "reduce nuclear dangers at home and abroad" by shrinking the size of the nuclear weapons stockpile, even though this is only 1% of NNSA's annual budget. Moreover, the cleanup of lands contaminated by the accumulated detritus of the nuclear weapons program, to which he referred, is a DOE, but not an NNSA, responsibility. Oddly, too, Chu referred only indirectly to the dominant part of NNSA's current mission which is to "maintain the safety, security, and effectiveness of the remaining weapons"; i.e., the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which eats up 2/3 of NNSA's annual budget.