Resolution for Consideration: Los Alamos National Laboratories

Resolution for consideration at the Green Party of New Mexico Convention to be held April 7, 2018:


Adopted at the Annual Convention of the Green Party of Taos County on March 24, 2018:

“Whereas: the City of Santa Fe on October 25th, 2017 adopted the resolution

REQUESTING THAT THE NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT STRENGTHEN THE REVISED LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABS CLEANUP ORDER TO CALL FOR ADDITIONAL SAFETY TRAINING; AND SUSPEND ANY PLANNED EXPANDED PLUTONIUM PIT PRODUCTION UNTIL SAFETY ISSUES ARE RESOLVED; AND DIRECTING THE CITY CLERK TO TRANSMIT COPIES OF THIS RESOLUTION TO ASSOCIATED PARTIES.”

http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/2017-76-LANL-Cleanup.pdf

and;

Whereas: This resolution has been adapted as in the attached and proposed to be adopted by the Town of Taos,

Be it Resolved: The Green Party of New Mexico supports adoption of similar resolutions by all local governments in the State of New Mexico.

Signed Mark Henderson Secretary of the Convention Green Party of Taos County


Town of Taos, NEW MEXICO RESOLUTION NO. 2018-___

COMMITMENT TO LANL CLEAN-UP RESOLUTION 2018

A RESOLUTION REGARDING THE HEALTH, SAFETY, AND REGIONAL CONTAMINATION ISSUES AT LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY:

REQUESTING THAT THE NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT STRENGTHEN AND ENFORCE THE REVISED (2016) LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABS

CLEANUP ORDER TO CALL FOR ADDITIONAL CHARACTERIZATION OF LEGACY NUCLEAR WASTES, INCREASED CLEANUP FUNDING, SIGNIFICANT ADDITIONAL SAFETY TRAINING AND CLEAR ENFORCEMENT; AND DUE TO CONTINUING LIFE- THREATENING NEAR-CRITICALITY ACCIDENTS, EGREGIOUS REGIONAL CONTAMINATION AND THE EXISTENT DANGER OF POTENTIAL EARTHQUAKES AFFECTING VULNERABLE PLUTONIUM PIT FACILITIES (PF-4 AND OTHERS), HALT CURRENT NUCLEAR BOMB CORE PRODUCTION UNTIL SAFETY AND EARTHQUAKE ISSUES ARE RESOLVED AND CERTIFIED SAFE BY THE DNFSB; HALT PLANNED EXPANDED PLUTONIUM PIT PRODUCTION; AND HALT LANL’S PROPOSED UNDERGROUND MODULAR PIT MANUFACTURE THAT WOULD BE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY; AND DIRECTING THE TOWN CLERK TO TRANSMIT COPIES OF THIS RESOLUTION TO ASSOCIATED PARTIES.

WHEREAS, in June 2016, DOE and NMED signed a new revised Consent Order governing cleanup that incorporates giant loopholes whereby LANL can avoid comprehensive cleanup by simply claiming that it is “too difficult or costly”; and
WHEREAS, the new Consent Order bases LANL cleanup on projections of future funding availability instead of what is actually needed to accomplish comprehensive cleanup; andWHEREAS, in August 2016, based on the new Consent Order, DOE released an estimated cleanup baseline that extended the timeframe for LANL cleanup completion to 2040, asserting that only 5,000 cubic meters of waste needs to be cleaned up, while an estimated 30 times that much legacy waste (150,000 cubic meters) would be subject to “cap and cover”, i.e., leaving said waste buried where it is currently located on LANL property; and

WHEREAS, LANL’s radioactive and toxic wastes are buried in unlined pits and shafts, unlike the composite liners and leachate collection systems that the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) requires of all local governments; and

WHEREAS, contamination includes perchlorate and hexavalent chromium (as in the film Erin Brockovich) in the top 80 to 100 feet of Santa Fe’s sole source aquifer, and PCBs in the Rio Grande at 40,000 times over EPA standards protective of human health
WHEREAS, radioactive and hazardous contaminants produced as a result of nuclear weapons research and production at LANL have been and continue to be released into the Rio Grande and the Española Basin Aquifer, designated by the EPA as a Sole Source Aquifer; and

WHEREAS, sustainable futures and regional property values depend on preventing ground- water contamination of the Española Basin Aquifer, surface contamination of the Rio Grande and tributaries; and preventing air contamination from repeated wildfires at or near the Lab; andWHEREAS, LANL’s legacy radioactive and toxic wastes are located as close as 60 miles or less, as the crow flies, from Taos; and

WHEREAS, LANL has been threatened by 3 recent very large wildfires: the Dome Fire (April, 1996), Cerro Grande Fire (May, 2000) that burned 400 homes in the city of Los Alamos and 43,000 acres including 7500 acres on LANL property, and Las Conchas Fire (June, 2011) which came within a mile of Lab boundaries and burned 156,000 acres; and the Cerro Grande fire spread over several hundred waste disposal sites and contaminated areas; and

WHEREAS wildfires near or on Lab property over the last 2 decades have become more frequent and dangerous and the smoke has spread contaminants to the Taos area and beyond; and contamination regionally includes carcinogenic and mutagenic radioactive and hazardous wastes including Plutonium, Tritium, Americium, Strontium, Cesium, explosives, etc. found in local area plums, lettuce and house dust.

WHEREAS, full cleanup of LANL would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our precious groundwater resources and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of high paying jobs for more than twenty years when wastes are fully removed; and
WHEREAS, the Governing Body of the Town of Taos supports the total and permanent cleanup of all toxic and radioactive health and environmental hazards related to nuclear weapons research and production at Los Alamos (Resolution 08-56); and

WHEREAS, the Town of Taos has historically opposed “cap & cover” with Joint Town & County Resolution #08-24/08-27 in 2008; and Santa Fe City and County passed Resolutions similar to this: Resolution #2017-76 (10-25-17) and Resolution #2017-129 (11-14-17); andWHEREAS, the Department of Energy has determined, “Required improvements to the [Nuclear] Criticality Safety Program are moving at an unacceptably slow rate… [and] The number and latency of infractions in the plutonium facility is of concern,” for which LANL received the only “red grade” in nuclear criticality safety in the DOE nuclear weapons complex in the 2016 report of the DOE to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), an independent panel that advises the U.S. Department of Energy and the president; andWHEREAS, nuclear criticality entails accidents resulting from an inadvertent self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction that produces a potentially fatal blast of radiation resulting in fires and deadly radiation releases into the environment; and

WHEREAS, the now for-profit nuclear weapons complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory has suffered several “nuclear criticality” accidents in recent years, documented in a 2017 multi- part series from the Center for Public Integrity; and
WHEREAS, these criticality events include:

1. In March 2011, in violation of nuclear material handling protocols, a manager placed an amount of nuclear material in a glove-box that exceeded the criticality limit of the box; and

2. In August 2011, technicians, seeking a photo-op, in violation of nuclear material handling protocols, placed eight rods of plutonium in close proximity to each other – several more rods would have triggered a deadly nuclear chain reaction;

3. A 2013 LANL study found that glove-box leaks in PF-4 (plutonium production facility) occurred roughly three times a month, costing $23,000 each to clean up, and often the result of avoidable errors;

4. In December 2013, LANL sent a drum containing radioactive material to the WIPP storage facility near Carlsbad that ruptured inside the facility – a result of improper mixing of ingredients – costing the government $1.5 billion to “clean up”.

5. In May 2016, a trolley used to carry nuclear materials in a facility at LANL fell from the ceiling and crashed into a glove-box, which was fortunately empty and not in use;

6. The DOE annual report to the DNFSB, released in February 2017, found that LANL was the only nuclear production site whose performance did not meet expectations in the functional area of criticality safety expectations;

7. The April 19th, 2017 fire incident at PF-4, where 4 metric tons of plutonium are also stored, highlighted, once again, a pattern of consistent mismanagement in the maintenance and cleanup of some of the most dangerous materials on Earth. This pattern of problems also has prompted the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to question whether the facility should continue to operate and handle increasing quantities of plutonium in coming years. The Board questions the lab’s ability to safely carry out future nuclear missions at PF-4., and

8. In July 2017, a LANL employee sent “special nuclear material” across the country by air by FED-EX in direct violation of nuclear safety standards; and

9. In August 2017, two further incidents of mishandling of plutonium metals occurred, one of which was acknowledged as a ‘criticality safety event’; and

WHEREAS, recent near-criticality accidents at LANL include one that was very similar to one in Japan that required mass evacuation and a shelter-in-place order for 310,000 people; and since nuclear criticality and resultant fires have the potential to contaminate the entire state; andWHEREAS, the 2011 near-criticality accident led to an exodus of nuclear criticality safety experts, leaving only 1 out of 14 criticality safety experts when the required number is over 30; resulting in a 2013 shutdown of plutonium handling operations for nearly 4 years; andWHEREAS, Between 2005 and 2016, the lab’s persistent and serious shortcomings in “criticality” safety have been criticized in more than 40 reports by government oversight agencies, teams of nuclear safety experts, and the lab’s own staff.; and

WHEREAS, DOE should increase and allocate sufficient funding to ensure all contractor staff working with radioactive and hazardous material are trained in the handling of said material, overseen by federal nuclear safety experts, in order to ensure the safety of the employees, the nuclear stockpile and the surrounding communities, including the Town of Taos; andWHEREAS, Los Alamos National Security, LLS, now a for-profit contractor, has historically prioritized spending for plutonium pit production, while skimping on environmental protection of the surrounding communities, witness the spreading contamination in the underlying aquifer,

the Rio Grande and the Buckman well fields. The 2018 requested budget of $2.48 billion includes around 80% for pit production and 7.6% for clean-up
WHEREAS, DOE plans to expand production of new plutonium pit triggers at LANL for the nation’s nuclear weapons from 20 to up to 80 pits per year by 2030, which is estimated to nearly double related radioactive and toxic wastes; and

WHEREAS, plutonium pits are used as the “triggers” for the nation’s nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction; and
WHEREAS, plutonium is a substance with significant health and environmental risk, including many cancers in humans and animals; and

WHEREAS, billions of our United States federal tax dollars are being used to manufacture plutonium pits, the triggers for WMD, a product that must never be used; and
WHEREAS, Los Alamos County ranks 4th in per capita income in the United States and the state of New Mexico ranks 4th lowest in per capita income in the United States, with the highest poverty rate for children, the trickle-down from LANL is not benefitting New Mexicans or Taoseños; and

WHEREAS, independent experts outside of the Department of Defense have found that all plutonium pits, including those created when the existing nuclear stockpile was created over the last 60 years, have reliable lifetimes of a century or more, arguing that expanded production of plutonium pits is unnecessary; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. arsenal includes 4,480 nuclear warheads, of which 1,740 are deployed, nearly 1000 are on hair-trigger alert, 2,740 are in storage, with nearly 2500 within a mile from the Albuquerque Airport and around 15- 20,000 plutonium pits in Amarillo, TX; andWHEREAS, in a 2013 letter, the independent DNFSB stated that the Board “remains deeply concerned with the seismic safety posture of the PF-4 at LANL. The Board believes a recent analysis demonstrates that PF-4 is vulnerable to structural collapse. The large plutonium inventory of PF-4, coupled with the facility’s proximity to the public, creates the potential for very high off-site dose consequences if the building were to collapse”; and

WHEREAS In January, 2018, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board wrote to then-Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, that despite upgrades at the Los Alamos plutonium facility that would allow it to better sustain an earthquake, “significant questions remain regarding the suitability of the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) for long term operations,” including the adequacy of its fire- suppression system and an excess of “material-at-risk,” (onsite radioactive material). New issues discovered by the DNFSB as a result of the April 19 fire at PF-4 include failures in identifying legacy waste, unclear directions from management about cleanup activities and an overall lack of clarity about who has authority in an emergency; and

WHEREAS, in July, 2017, at the United Nations, 122 nations adopted a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, prohibiting nations from developing, testing, production, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons, killing 170,000 civilians in split seconds at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with many thousands more dying from radioactive fallout; and through the United Nations declaration, the global community has condemned these acts as indiscriminate and internationally illegal “crimes against humanity”; and

WHEREAS, the Taos Governing Body has previously passed Joint Town/County Resolution Nos. 8-24/8-27 opposing expansion of plutonium pit production at LANL;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE Town of Taos that the Governing Body hereby requests that the New Mexico Environment Department strengthen and enforce without exception the revised cleanup Consent Order to call for additional characterization of legacy nuclear wastes, increased cleanup funding, and significant additional safety training, thereby incentivizing DOE to seek increased funding for these tasks. Current plutonium pit production must halt until all nuclear criticality safety issues are resolved, and certified to be safe by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governing Body requests that the United States Department of Energy halt any planned expanded plutonium pit production at LANL. Earthquake vulnerabilities of PF-4 must be addressed now. Underground modules with tunnels to PF-4 must not be considered for expanded pit plutonium at LANL due to earthquake vulnerabilities delineated by the DNFSB. The facility sits atop 7 earthquake faults.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governing Body directs the Town Clerk to send copies of this resolution to the New Mexican congressional delegation, the Governor of New Mexico, the President Pro Tempore of the New Mexico Senate, the Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives, and the Secretaries of the United States Department of Energy and the New Mexico Environment Department.


References:

Excerpt Joint Taos Town/County Resolution 08-56/08-40:
“NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Governing Bodies of the Town of Taos and Taos County request that the Governor of New Mexico use his authority, by the powers vested in him by the Constitution of New Mexico, to request that the Department of Energy commit to remove all waste buried at the facility, and that no additional waste be allowed to be buried at the facility.”

Excerpt Joint Taos Town/County Resolution 08-24/08-27:
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN OF TAOS AND TAOS COUNTY OBJECTING TO PROPOSED NUCLEAR WEAPONS “COMPLEX “TRANSFORMATION” ACTIVITIES AT THE LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY, INCLUDING EXPANDED PLUTONIUM PIT PRODUCTION.


Criticality: Center for Public Integrity: Nuclear Negligence https://apps.publicintegrity.org/nuclear-negligence/near-disaster/

The Impact Area Groundwater Study Program: http://nuclearactive.org/Water/GroundwaterFS4-17-07.pdf

Local contaminants: NMED, DOE Oversight Bureau and Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group; 2005 Environmental Surveillance in Embudo Watershed

4 metric tons plutonium stored at LANL: http://www.lasg.org/FactSheets/2016/LASG_Pits_Jun2016.pdf

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board https://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/document/10165/qr_2014516_24736.pdf

Los Alamos Environmental Monitoring Records https://www.intellusnm.com/home/about_intellus.cfm

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