NEW MEXICO SPACE WARS

An ABQ Journal editorial (Nov. 28) describes the proposal to bring New Mexico the Space Command, Space Force project in glowing terms. There is no consideration of possible damage to public health and environmental consequences.  New Mexico’s politicians should not hand the military carte blanche trust for the startup of another project we know nothing about -- based alone on the promise of money and jobs.

The ABQ Journal editorial ignores the global threat from space conflicts and the record of environmental contamination and disease from military bases and two national laboratories.  While considering what New Mexico has to offer the Department of Defense, the Journal and politicians don’t consider what damage could come to New Mexico. Moreover, do New Mexicans want to be brought into the destructive aspects of military conflict in space like we were dragged into nuclear weapons development and tragic use?

The question is whether the Space Command project would be primarily administrative or would involve construction of missile and satellite technology and launches from New Mexico.  An Environmental Impact Statement should be first presented laying out potential adverse consequences of Space Command/Force plans for New Mexico. 

The Space Command/Force claims the right to dominance and assumes military conflict in space.  U.S. buildup of space weaponry and logistics accelerates the arms race and violates treaties for peaceful use of space. A violent conflict increasing the already enormous amount of space junk could irreparably damage modern communication systems. 

The setup of large aerospace corporations in New Mexico seeking a piece of the action could bring a lot of infrastructure challenges for our environment, housing, roads, schools, hospitals and scarce water supplies. The use of missile fuel may add to the perchlorate contamination of groundwater that is already wide spread at Air Force bases such as at Kirtland, Holloman, Cannon and White Sands.  Would there be production of space batteries using extremely toxic Plutonium 238?

The many spaceports around the country launching tens of thousands of mini-satellites for Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others will punch further holes in the ozone layer affecting atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere.

New Mexico is already damaged by failure to clean up radioactive and toxic laboratory and military waste.  Receiving more harmful impacts from Space Command/Force should be avoided.

The question remains -- is the public to be included in the decision to accept the project or are we to be bamboozled into believing this project will cause no harm but bring untold benefits?

 

Why are these military/industrial projects being proposed for New Mexico during the Coronavirus Pandemic:More nuclear weapons plutonium pit production? Storage of the entire nation’s nuclear reactor waste?  Doubling WIPP?  Space Command/Space Force?

The dropping of the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo with no warning to the public brought generational cancer and disease without compensation. 

Huge piles of uranium tailings and the 1100 ton Puerco River radioactive spill poisonsNative Americans, their children and animals. 

Kirtland AFB dumped an estimated 6 to24 million gallons of jet fuel and aviation gas into Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer.  A toxic carcinogen, Ethylene Dibromide (EDB) is present in the aquifer. 

Holloman AFB contaminated groundwater with a fire fighting chemical (PFAHs) at levels 18,000 times higher than federal safety limits.  The NM Department of Health recommends not drinking, swimming in or even touching the foam from water in Lake Holloman. 

Cannon AFB sued againstNM Environment Department permit conditions to protect dairies and drinking water from high PFAH contamination. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory:

  • Plans to produce more plutonium pits for nuclear weapons
  • spread radioactive wasteand hexavalent chromium into the aquifer;
  • has plans to release massive amounts of tritium into the neighboring tribal airspace;
  • fifteen lab workers were recently exposed to plutonium;

The WIPP salt mine for the military’s transuranic radioactive waste:

  • Had a $2,000,000,000shutdown from a fire and explosion
  • released contamination to the surface and overexposed workers.
  • The Department of Energy wants to double the size of WIPP despite promises to close in 2024.

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to approve a plan for “interim”storage ofall the nation’s high level radioactive nuclear reactor waste at the Holtec site in southern New Mexico:

  • Leakage to the aquifer,
  • Interference with Permian Basin petroleum, potash and agricultural production.
  • Because no repackaging facility nordeep geologic repository exists the waste would never leave.

 

Sandia National Laboratories has yet to excavate and remove the radioactive waste, toxic chemicals and heavy metals in its Mixed Waste Landfill:

  • High level waste from the military, rocket fuel experiments and nuclear reactor meltdown experiments is mixed with metallic sodium that could potentially explode as happened at Beatty Nevada in 2015.
  • Carcinogenic solvents are leaking from the unlined dump to Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer.

 

 

 

Citizen Action Kirtland Jet Fuel Spill  03.16.2020 UPDATE

Water Authority Technical Memo from Public Records Request

 

NMED Records Response Summary: The NMED response to the Records request indicates that there has been no consideration given to the Water Authority Technical Memo of 1.14.2020 that is in any documents. There was no information provided as to what personnel may be reviewing coring work.  No records regarding the shutdown of or disuse of KAFB well 106233 that indicated more widespread contamination.  There are no records considering the Water Authority Technical Memo and its conclusions. There is no answer as to why the Water Authority is not posted on the NMED website. There is no record to show that the WUA  Tech Memo was presented to NMED  Secretary Kenney.  There are no records indicating any agreement or NMED personnel to consider technical data from the WUA.  The agenda for the February 25 meeting gave no agenda item expressing consideration to the concerns of the WUA Technical Memo.

 

Citizen Action Comment:  The NMED response indicates complete lack of consideration to the WUA concerns in its Technical Memo.  There is indifference to the WUA as a stakeholder that is responsible for protecting the water quality delivered to its several hundred thousand users. The concerns of the WUA are ignored and there may be lack of awareness of the NMED Secretary to those serious concerns. There appears to be a breakdown in oversight and stakeholder communications for the jet fuel spill. The Legislature in 2014 sought to have a scientific overview for the spill that has never been accomplished.  Citizens attempted to obtain a Remediation Advisory Board that the AF denied. 

 

Recommendation:  1).  Concerns of the WUA should be directly brought to the attention of the NMED Secretary by legislators and the CEO for WUA. 

2). Scientific Review for the fuel spill should be established as per the 2014 Joint House Memorial.  

 

Dave McCoy, J.D., Executive Director

Citizen Action New Mexico

VIEW Water Authority Technical Memo of 1.14.2020 HERE:

Water Authority Technical Memo of 1.14.2020

HOLTEC RADIOACTIVE WASTE SITE – NO SCIENTIFIC JUSTIFICATION

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to “temporarily” store the nation’s 80,000 metric tons of accumulating high level nuclear reactor waste at the Holtec site between Hobbs and Carlsbad. The planis driven by political and economic considerations that lack scientific justification.  The facility promoters don’t mention that they are dooming New Mexico to have to permanently dispose of the spent nuclear in-state.  There is magical thinking that a disposal facility will be opening soon, i.e. Yucca Mountain, a porous mountain located above groundwater.

There are compelling technical reasons as to why the nuclear waste would never leave New Mexico.  The near surface waste containers at Holtec will be damaged from heat stress, corrosion from chlorides, radiation and chemical effects from leaking spent fuel.  Holtec and dry fuel storage sites around the U.S. so far have no way to effectively inspect canisters for cracking before shipping. 

Holtec has no approved provision for isolating canisters leaking radionuclides and no way to transport compromised canisters elsewhere a second time.  Other states would object.  Even if a permanent repository is opened it may not be able to accept all the spent nuclear fuel that has accumulated at Holtec and other sites. 

The NRC environment statement only considers 40 years of storage whereas the Holtec application admits that 120 years may be required.  The environmental statement ignores the realities of imminent — perhaps within two decades — fuel storage canister failure due to chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking or other manufacturing vulnerabilities.

At the San Onofre, California site, Holtec made unapproved design changes to canisters.  Holtec has no way to replace aging concrete structures or damaged spent fuel canisters for a second transport.  There is the possibility for hydrogen explosions due to air leaking into damaged canisters or criticality from water entry into high burnup fuel.

The New Mexico Auditor General is investigating kickback allegationsrelated to the Holtec site contract. 

The Holtec site is an area threatened by underlying unstable geological and hydrogeological characteristics along with the possibility for fracking-induced earthquakes.  The area’s karst formations, readily penetrated by groundwater, cannot prevent migration of radionuclides from damaged containers or canisters.  Decades of oil and gas drilling, potash mining and abandoned water wells have resulted in mining-induced ground deformation – the ongoing collapse of strata, subsidence, sinkholes and dissolving salt deposits. A large playa lake lies on the eastern portion of the site. 

Holtec is near the world’s purest potash deposit that includes potassium chloride. The Holtec study of dry storage risks omitted accidents involving canister leakage from chloride induced stress corrosion cracking. There is no technical reason for the U.S. NRC to have ignored it. 

Radiation exposure from rail transport of the spent fuel to Holtec poses a public health risk. Just one of the 10,000 shipping containers of spent fuel will contain more radiation than all the nuclear weapons waste disposed of at WIPP.  Train derailments are all too frequent.  Railway transport for the 100 ton containers would be over a track, tunnel and bridge infrastructure that is beyond its useful life. 

The U.S. NRC fails to acknowledge many compelling epidemiology studies showingmore harm than accepted radiation protection standards predict. The public along rail transportation corridors and the misinformed radiation workers will be receiving life shortening radiation doses even when below allowable radiation standards.  Weakened immune response, cancer, birth defects can result. 

New Mexico may be forced to allow burial of the spent fuel in underground salt.The half mile deep WIPP salt mine experienced a $2,000,000,000 fire and explosion shutdown due to human error. 

The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act directed deep geological disposal of spent nuclear fuel based on Congressional intent that isolation from the biosphere required a onetime removal from the nation’s 100+ nuclear utility sites, notsecond shipping from an interim site.

New Mexico should not be forced to become a permanent host for nuclear waste that remains radioactive for millions of years.

 

May 18, 2020

Walter A. Brown

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Citizen Action New Mexico Objections and Comments Re:  Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Petrox Northern Extension Pipeline and Associated Fruitland Coal Gas Horizontal Drilling Project.

Dear Sir,

1.      Once again the Forest Service (FS) is adversely impacting human health and environmental protection in the interests of commercial petroleum interests that destroy the character and features of a roadless area.  Citizen Action NM supports Alternative 1 for No Action/No Construction in this roadless area.  Pipeline and well pad construction would result in acres of land and forest being permanently cleared along with potential shallow aquifer contamination and adverse wildlife impacts.   There are zero benefits to public lands or wildlife from this project which defeats the purpose of roadless areas.  The FS needs to recognize the importance of these ecological treasures of roadless areas beyond their potential for pipelines and well pads.  The FS is allowing “spot zoning” exceptions so that one corporation gets special treatment while everyone else has to follow the rules. In essence, the federal taxpayers who own these public lands are subsidizing the profit margin of a private natural gas company at the expense of the ecological integrity of their public lands and wildlife. This constitutes an unethical giveaway of public lands, which increases threats to already-imperiled wildlife species and allows a permanent intrusion into currently roadless areas.

2.      “The HD Mountains CRA is approximately 25,044 acres is size and is comprised of a 10-mile long northsouth mountain range made up of individual peaks and mesas.”  The 2001 Roadless Rule prevents road construction and timber harvest in designated roadless areas, which are typically 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) or larger.  This roadless area is five times the size that can receive protection.  The FS is violating the Colorado Roadless Rule 3.2.2.:  “The CRR defined the following resources or features that characterize roadless areas: high quality or undisturbed soil, water, and air; sources of public drinking water; diversity of plant and animal communities; habitat for threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate, and sensitive species and for those species dependent on large, undisturbed areas of land; primitive, semi-primitive motorized, and semi-primitive non-motorized; reference landscapes; natural-appearing landscapes with high scenic quality; traditional cultural properties and sacred sites; and other locally identified unique characteristics (USFS 2012).”  The EA does not protect these resources by seeking to allow and minimizing the effects of the pipeline degradation or destruction of the resources.   

3.      The FS EA fails to present a catalogue of the locations across the United States where it is allowing the intrusion of petroleum and other commercial interests into roadless areas.   A programmatic environmental statement should be provided.  The FS a la carte use of exceptions will lead to the destruction of roadless areas throughout the United States in violation of already federal accepted plans to protect such areas.  The cumulative effects on roadless areas are not analyzed by the FS. 

4.      The existing lease prohibition against surface occupancy and use of the Roadless Area for this pipeline should not be waived by the Forest Service. The No Surface Occupancy stipulation was confirmed by the San Juan National Forest in 2007 explicitly to protect the Roadless Area character of the HD Mountains. The project violates the 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule by allowing new road construction.  Bulldozing a 60-foot wide corridor through the Roadless Area obviously violates the contractual terms against surface occupancy and destroys old growth trees, wildlife habitat and water resources.  The FS should not allow the No Surface Occupancy (NSO) to be voided for petroleum interests which are ravaging the environment wherever located.  The disappearance of roadless areas as result of an ongoing FS permission to destroy these areas at this and numerous other locations should be halted.  “The NSO was established to maintain and protect roadless values and areas in the HD Mountains CRA, and for the purpose of avoiding areas of: 1) landslides and landslide hazards; 2) slopes greater than 40%; 3) water influence zones, including riparian vegetation and flood plains; 4) high potential for water erosion; 5) low potential for revegetation; 6) old growth forests; and 7) visual quality objective (VQO) – retention.” 

The EA devalues and destroys these goals.  The EA identifies: “Additional disturbance would be located in a steep area with high-hazard soils, increasing the risk of landslides. Multiple areas of surface bedrock occur in the old road bed near Little Squaw Creek that would have to be removed for pipeline construction.”

The pipeline will transverse a large watershed that feeds Squaw Creek and ponds, springs and wells.

5.      Given the current outlook for petroleum production prices and a glut of petroleum due to reduction of consumption associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and overproduction, it is probable that this project is not economically viable, necessary or sustainable.  The project contributes further to greenhouse gas emissions causing extreme climate changes. 

6.      The EA does not provide links to documents such as those cited at 3.1.6 Threatened and Endangered, Sensitive, and MIS Species Federally Listed Threatened and Endangered Species.  The inability of the reader to locate referenced documents due to the FS omission of links seriously hides the ball from the public and delivers a defective EA.  The only place that identifies the meaning of “CBM” standing for Coal Based Methane gas production is in the Acronyms.

7.      The commenter cannot assess what specific effects the pipeline construction will have on any of the species it discusses with the exception of elk and mule deer at 3.2.10.  The consequences for those two species are negative in all respects: human intrusion, death from wildlife-vehicle collisions, loss of habitat, poaching, and harassment. 

The EA does not provide links to studies.  By non-identification, the EA pretends that other animal species do not exist for the area and thus fails to identify similar such impacts for other species.  

The EA is required, but fails, to make full identification of wildlife species and impacts on them. Bears, mountain lions and other apex species are ignored.  

Motorized vehicles will use this corridor in perpetuity to maintain and inspect the pipeline and permanently remove vegetation. There is no analysis for the number of road trips from all activities and the expected accidents, injuries and fatalities.  The pipeline corridor will also increase sight-lines for poaching, increase noxious weed introductions and allow abundant new opportunities for illegal motor vehicle use in perpetuity.

8.      A considerable percentage of the project would be on “high-hazard soils due to susceptibility to water erosion and poor revegetation potential.”  No mitigating procedures are provided for the location or at other locations.  Unstable slopes also present danger for pipeline ruptures from rapid downslope movement of snow and rock, floods, erosion, frost heaving.  These forces insert a degree of unpredictability and potential for massive releases due to pipeline breakage. 

9.      3.1.4 Fires/Fuels Management.  This section fails to adequately analyze the potential for more fires during construction and maintenance activities such as thinning and timber removal and increased human intrusion into the area.  The project will involve Coal Bed Methane (CBM).  The potential for coal generated fires for the area is present in another section 3.2.3:  “Coal fires may occur naturally where coal beds are exposed to the surface, and may be ignited by lightning strikes, campfires, wildfires, or spontaneous combustion.”

At p. 30:  “There is a possibility that dewatering of the Fruitland Formation caused by the Proposed Action may expose shallow sub-surface coals to oxygen, releasing heat, and potentially increasing the likelihood of coal fires near the outcrop (USDI 2006).”

10.  The EA lacks discussion for potential causes and effects of pipeline failure or leakage for the proposed action.  Pipeline failures have many causes.  A frequent failure cause is defective welding.  There is no discussion of quality control for the pipeline construction and installation.  Pipeline explosions have been a regular occurrence around the U.S.  The radius of impact for the maximum credible accident for the pipeline is not set forth.  Siting the pipeline along a public transportation corridor of Hwy 160 is unsafe. 

The possibilities for rupture, fires and explosions that may occur are not discussed in the EA.  Pipeline transport of fossil fuels through a roadless area carries the risk of rupture and explosion, threatening resources and values, visitor experience, and human health and safety. 

Methane seeps and spills are inadequately analyzed for increased occurrence, fire potential and impact on human health given increased human intrusion into the roadless area.  Allowing the project in a roadless area creates greater public risk: “Methane seeps can affect the water quality and health of the residences in the area. Methane is highly flammable and explosive under certain conditions. Methane that seeps into confined spaces that are poorly ventilated or unventilated (e.g., water wells or structures) and are exposed to a source of ignition can explode or burn.”

11.  No analysis for seismicity in the proposed area and whether there could be potential for rupture or structural leakages of pipeline and wells. 

12.  The EA does not discuss the potential for habitat fragmentation of wildlife corridors.

13.  Continuation and construction of the pipeline along an older road defeats recovery and maintaining of the roadless area.

14.  The entry of motor vehicles and supplies, drilling activities and later abandonment of the wells give no guarantees that the shallow aquifers of the roadless area will remain uncontaminated.  “Surface spills or inadequate wellbore integrity could potentially contaminate the shallow groundwater aquifers used for domestic water well supply. Spills may result from the release of drilling, completion, or production fluids on the well pads or surrounding areas, or from CBM or produced water released from pipeline leaks.”  Mitigation is not adequately described.

CONCLUSION

There is no public or environmental benefit from allowing the road, proposed pipeline and well construction to proceed.  The need for roadless areas to remain roadless and free from such projects should be respected by the Forest Service. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Citizen Action New Mexico

David McCoy, Executive Director

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

May 9, 2020

NNSA Los Alamos Field Office

Comments: LANL SWEIS SA

3747 West Jemez Road

Los Alamos, NM 87544

By email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Subject line: LANL SWEIS SA

Dear LANL SWEIS SA Document Manager,

            Citizen Action New Mexico submits these comments for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) Draft Supplement Analysis of the 2008 Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for Plutonium Operations (DOE/EIS-0380-SA-06, March 2020).

It is clear that the NNSA and DOE intend to go forward with more nuclear weapons production no matter what public comments, rational thinking or valid legal arguments may be presented against such a monumental waste of resources, finances, public health and safety and continuing threat to world environment, peace and security. 

The individuals in the NNSA and DOE that are involved in this effort have no moral or ethical scruples and are part of a nuclear mafia.  The last round of pit production brought cancer, generational genetic disorders, disease and the flash annihilation of more than 250,000 people. One questions why there needs to be “modernization” of nuclear weapons when there are already some 5,000 deployable such weapons in the US arsenal and with more than 15,000 plutonium pits that still exist in addition with a long lifetime.

The unsafe location of LANL and its facilities for producing more pits has long been criticized to no avail for:

  • Poisoned workers dying early deaths from cancer and disease,
  • birth defects for children,
  • Above ground test of its nuclear weapons spreading radiation in New Mexico and creation of a large class of uncompensated downwinders,
  • Illegal seizure of tribal land,
  • seismic vulnerability,
  • contamination of groundwater with hexavalent chromium,
  • defective ground water monitoring,
  • spread of laboratory radiation by fire,
  • contamination of the Rio Grande with alpha radiation,
  • accidents contaminating workers and giving them cancer,
  • ongoing plan to dump tritium into the airspace of New Mexico,
  • creation of long-lived radionuclides that will remain toxic for millions of years,
  • Increased need for disposal of radioactive and hazardous waste that has resulted in Area G and the Sandia National Laboratories Mixed Waste Landfill without cleanup.

There is a need for a Programmatic EIS, but even if such a document were produced it cannot bring about a reckoning with the absolute, abysmal idea that there should be further nuclear weapons production.  The problem lies in the first instance with the Atomic Energy Act that gives one man the power to decide that the production of nuclear weapons should go forward.  Clearly, the U.S. should consider that the President alone should not be granted such extensive power for production or use. 

Public comment cannot suffice to deter the DOE or the NNSA from its injurious, ruinous plans for New Mexico and their threat to stimulate greater proliferation of worldwide nuclear weapons production. 

We say to the individuals in the DOE and the NNSA, you should leave your jobs and refuse to be participants in further planetary oppression of the world’s peoplesandenvironment.

No matter how you choose to rationalize what you are doing for a living it is ethically and morally wrong and counter to life to continue nuclear weapons production. 

David B. McCoy, Executive Director

Citizen Action New Mexico

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.