Saturday, January 17, 2015
USA Memorializes Its Creation of Nukes
The following has been excerpted from: "The Nuclear Past is Present", by Dawn Stover, in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (issue of 1/6/15.)
President Obama signed legislation on December 19, 2014 to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will include portions of the Hanford Site in Washington state, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, and Los Alamos in New Mexico.
Unfortunately, the way in which the Manhattan Project park was created is characteristic of a dysfunctional and regressive Congress that has slashed funding for parks, abused the defense budget authorization process, failed to meet its obligations to clean up nuclear waste, and allocated billions to breathe new life into the nuclear arms race of the Cold War.
Meanwhile, the federal government is underfunding the cleanup of Hanford and other defense sites contaminated by nuclear waste generated during weapons production. Cleanup has been Hanford’s main mission since the late 1980s, with more than $40 billion spent so far, but the 30-year cleanup plan is way behind schedule, and completion is not expected for 70 years or more. The Department of Energy has already announced that it won’t meet the agreed-upon deadline for emptying leaking waste tanks at the
The creation of the Manhattan Project park reflects the last Congress’ warped values, which unfortunately are not likely to change under the new one. The most worrisome thing about the park is not that it celebrates the development of nuclear weapons, but rather that it suggests such activity is a thing of the past.
The same Congress and president that approved the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park also approved huge new expenditures to refurbish nuclear weapons and keep the nation’s weapons laboratories at full operation. As the Bulletin noted last year, “post-Cold War reductions of nuclear weapons have slowed” and “the nuclear nations have undertaken ambitious nuclear weapon modernization programs that threaten to prolong the nuclear era indefinitely.” The Obama administration approved an upgrade to the B61 nuclear bomb that will effectively create a guided standoff weapon. Its price tag is expected to top $10 billion.
These are clear signs of a US government lacking in leadership and foresight when it comes to nuclear weapons.