The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Crowd turns out for town hall on plutonium pits, nuclear waste storage


“…………………………………………. a town hall meeting, where residents of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Alamos and beyond asked questions and made comments about nuclear production and disposal in New Mexico. The crowd addressed a pair of officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management.

There was hardly an empty seat in the auditorium; 150 others attended the town hall virtually.

Speakers at the town hall generally focused on three main issues: increased production of plutonium pits, ramped up disposal of transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and nuclear proliferation.

One attendee, Erich Kuerschner, expressed concerns about health and safety regarding radiation.

“Have you ever seen any pictures of what humans looked like after Hiroshima and Nagasaki?” Kuerschner asked. “It’s horrible, because so many people haven’t — you know, they have no idea of what radiation does to a human being.”

Plutonium pits, bowling-ball-sized hollow spheres of radioactive plutonium, are essential to trigger nuclear reactions.

…………………………………………. many attendees questioned the necessity of adding to the country’s nuclear arsenal, including Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester.

“All your plans for the expanded plutonium pit stores — why is plutonium bomb core production even necessary when it is not to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing tested stockpile?” Wester asked.

He went on to call on the NNSA and DOE to prioritize cleanup at Los Alamos National Lab and beyond, denuclearize the country, and invest in “real national security threats that tangibly impact New Mexicans such as wildfires caused by climate change and preventing the next pandemic.”…………………………..

Other speakers raised concerns about transporting and storing nuclear waste in DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. WIPP is the only repository for transuranic waste — clothes, tools, soil and other materials contaminated with radiation — in the country. The plant was expected to stop taking new waste in 2024; however, a March 2022 report by the Office of Environmental Management titled “WIPP Strategic Vision: 2022-2032”, indicated that the plant “is currently anticipated to operate beyond 2050.”

Activist Cynthia Wheeler said four years ago she bought a house along the route from LANL to WIPP, under the assumption that in 2024, the plant would be closed.

“The federal agencies changed the rules to keep WIPP open for the rest of the century,” Wheeler said. “… I was following the rules. But DOE was breaking promises after the fact.”

………………….. The plant is in the process of renewing its permit. Public comment on the renewal has been extended by the New Mexico Environment Department until April 19 at 5 p.m.


April 7, 2023 - Posted by | - plutonium, USA

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: