Saturday, April 23, 2011

CMRR-NF: Post Fukushima Nuclear Weapons Production

Post Fukushima, we owe it to ourselves and our children to focus on our own backyard nuclear reality -- Los Alamos.
What is becoming much more evident is that the location of Los Alamos,  which may once have been a sentimental memory for Oppenheimer, in reality is an earthquake prone fault zone, built on the side of one of the biggest calderas in the world.   
..that circular  formation on the left is a volcano...Los Alamos is in the middle of photo...can you see any fault-lines ? click to enlarge
 We don't know exactly why the earthquake frequency is going up --is it 'fracking' (which is also happening in New Mexico), or is it the volcano itself ? or what?--fact is that the earth is stirring in a different way than before and it is affecting Los Alamos. Check out the following graphic:

As you see below LANL has the highest known likely earthquake acceleration in the state (greater than 1 g), just roughly speaking on a grand scale as compiled by the USGS, here shown in the 5 Hertz frequency (i.e. 5 waves per second) part of the spectrum for a 2,500 year recurrence interval (i.e. 2% chance in 50 years).  The little dot is Santa Fe.  It's from here:
There are only two places in the entire eastern half of the U.S. with such high values (New Madrid Fault Zone and Charleston, SC)

In the last few months the public is becoming aware that Los Alamos' current plutonium processing facility,  PF-4 , is substandard and earthquake prone. PF-4 is  a nuclear facility, currently involved in pit production and in MOX fuel production for commercial nuclear power plants as well. 

inside PF-4
In a study of earthquake hazards of PF-4 the facility didn't meet the safety requirements in 13 out of 15 criteria. Like certain Lab insiders from LANL, we at the Los Alamos Study Group have become convinced that this facility will never come into compliance with seismic safety standards. 
One of the items that failed were some 157 'glove boxes' -- relatively small containment areas where plutonium is being handled. To just bring these glove boxes into compliance will cost between $100.000 on the low side and on the high side $850,000  per box. That one high end glove box upgrade costs about as much as  the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra is in debt, and they were shut down because of it. 

PF-4 will be connected by tunnels with the newly 
proposed CMRR Nuclear Facility, and if everything goes as planned some of its tasks will move to this facility.  

this is what plutonium storage looks like...

The newly proposed CMRR building itself is slated to store 6 tons of plutonium in  stainless steel containers about 35 pounds per vessel (about 4 times Nagasaki). This is one of the missions of the new CMRR bunker: a plutonium vault. First of all, that begs the question: what for??  Nationally, if you have 90 tons of  plutonium around --without any useful purpose--why does one need so much plutonium storage in Los Alamos? The answer is simple: to continue the expertise and keep the skills for plutonium handling alive. 
even Kim Yong-Il knows this

More than anything this planned gathering of plutonium in one vault in the CMRR, is more like a self employment program  of a nuclear corporate elite. History has proven that if you claim a hoard of'll have a "future" (in terms of funding). 

The Russian 'scientists' had an insider joke about this kind of mentality that would always crack them up: Plutonium is very valuable....because "they" (=us) have had to pay a lot of money for it...and still do.....

The purpose of the CMRR-NF behemoth is shapeshifting all the time and, as if all of us are not already living in enough absurdity-- this is touted as a "plus". The so-called 'hotel concept'  for the CMRR, that the NNSA came up with is just that:  a totally secretive  facility that can host different plutonium focus groups (international?), and which essentially can do their bidding and make new prototypes. It reflects the deepening privatization of nuclear weapon design, and --I regret to say-- that in some ways all of this expansive planning is aided and abetted by the recently signed the American-Russian START treaty. 

Despite the support of many childish peace organizations, START is deceptive in its name & numbers: in fact START gives the 'go-ahead' to a nuclear weapons modernization program that in so many ways defines the future of the human race and governance. That is the reality that is hidden behind the word "Modernization".  It is not just an upgrade to the latest  technologies and security and precision systems, but a commitment to a certain type of human future, where the demon of Thanatos reins with cold tyrannical calculations of power -- pulling apart most of the common resources and like a hungry ghost-vampire, sucking dry the very live-blood of community and human survival. 
Privatization of nuclear- weapons "as an industry" makes Bechtel and Co. the fountainhead of all proliferation from now on:    For New Mexico, most of that calamitous and undemocratic future will be built in  Los Alamos --mostly in the CMRR-NF: the holy grail for  nuclear weapons and  an accident waiting to happen. Similar to BP in the Gulf, or GE in Fukushima.

        Costs have been spiraling up -- but to LANS that doesn't make any difference.  Really, the position of the Nuclear industry is not that different from the Banking 'industry': cough it up or else we will destroy you. And if something does go wrong, it is up to the taxpayer to underwrite and  insure the whole damn endeavor. That is the future  Obama espouses when he promises the labs the largest  increase in funding since the Manhattan Project. That money  is given to LANS and this is what LANS says about itself:

Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) comprises four top U.S. organizations that have extensive experience in nuclear defense programs—Bechtel National, University of California, BWX Technologies, and Washington Group International. Our combined record of accomplishments and awards is unmatched in both science and industry.

 While the State is afflicted by debt, schools and Symphony Orchestras are closing, public funding of anything  is cut, rampant homelessness, poverty, increasing hunger and food-stamps, crime, insanity etc., the laboratory is somehow the proud recipient of a 7 % increase in funding. CMRR-NF is like a bad joke. Remember, Bechtel, the heavy weight partner in the LANS partnership was always in the concrete and construction industry .....and still is. Pouring concrete in Los Alamos will soon be a "hell -of-a-job".

When some voices in congress complained about the price-tag for the CMRR-NF, now at around 6 billion-- in a recent letter from LANS to NNSA, the planners came up with 11 recommendations for cuts. It has been thus far impossible for the public to get to these documents. Even the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, was apparently not notified about the proposed changes --messing up the whole certification process.  However, leaks suggest that cuts are proposed in the fire suppression systems and possibly also the ventilation system associated with the plutonium storage.  Like the DNFSB Safety Board, we would like to see this document and hereby I would like to ask the NM congressional staff, Bingaman and Udall, to immediately make this document available to interested groups and the press: What are the budget cuts that LANS suggests and how will they affect safety ? is called a "Phone"....

If Udall and Bingaman don't currently have this document, it would take just one phone call from either  one of them to get it, and  I call on them to do so and make it public.

Talking about 'secret' public documents: there is yet another document which is not classified and which should be made public: the government evaluated the performance of LANS management of the Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) covering the recent years 2009-2010. They have to do these PEP (Performance Evaluation Plan) and PER's (Performance Evaluation Reports)  in order to pinpoint the possible bonuses and incentive fees  that LANS gets for their management performance which usually translates in millions of additional tax dollars going to LANS and is a potential source of deep corruption. Don't believe me ? here is the document covering 2008:
'performance' numbers associated with the year 2008 --but how about PER's 2009 and 2010 ?? N/A ? Why ??
  Remember what they said about themselves: Our combined record of accomplishments and awards is unmatched in both science and industry.....This gets a whole different meaning in the light of these numbers...

 There is obviously nothing to hide here, but we need to know how effectively  our tax money spend was spend in Los Alamos ? We need to know and we demand that Udall and Bingaman do their job as our representatives and make this Performance Evaluation Report 2009 and 2010 available to the press and interested parties. Not doing so, as has been thus far the case -- is a disservice to the electorate of this state and it is unfair. 

My friends, obviously CMRR-NF is for cynical losers, it will be built in an earthquake zone, it promotes corruption --since it represents a lost cause-- and it is not worth spending another dollar on.

Friday, April 22, 2011

LASG Press Release: Background Reality of CMRR-Nuclear Facility Lawsuit

lasg.orgALBUQUERQUE -- At 9:00 am Wednesday April 27th, in the Brazos Courtroom (Room 580) of the Federal Courthouse, 333 Lomas Avenue NW, Albuquerque, the Honorable Judge Judith Herrera will hear arguments from the Los Alamos Study Group and the federal defendants -- the Department of Energy and (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) over whether final design of the proposed huge plutonium facility in Los Alamos -- called the "Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility" (CMRR-NF) -- should be halted pending analysis of alternatives to the project.
Judge Herrera will hear argument and evidence supporting two opposing motions: whether a) to throw out the Study Group's lawsuit, from the defendants; or b) temporarily pause the project, i.e. grant a "preliminary injunction," in order to give the court the opportunity to hear evidence on the Study Group's contention that the project cannot proceed without a valid, new environmental impact statement (EIS).  
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) strictly forbids any investment in a major federal project which could bias the agency toward approval of that project, or which involves irreversible commitments of resources toward the project, for example via contracts.  
The full docket of court filings can be accessed at the Study Group website here.  Considerable background on the project can be found at the group's CMRR web site, including links to defendants' documents.  
The Study Group is being represented by Thomas M. Hnasko, Dulcinea Hanuschak, and their colleagues at Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin of Roswell, Santa Fe, and Midland and Lindsay Lovejoy of Santa Fe.  Diane Albert, Esq. of Albuquerque has also been of assistance.  
Defendants have said they plan to post today what they are calling a "Draft Supplemental EIS" (Draft SEIS).  Plaintiffs have questioned the objectivity of writing such a document while at the same time promising full commitment to a single project alternative, and argue that such an approach cannot meet NEPA legal requirements for a variety of reasons summarized in their briefs and in Section E of this affidavit (pdf).  What is needed to fix the situation can be found sketched at Section F there.  
The present lawsuit is a continuation of a long process of external review and engagement with federal officials that now takes Study Group members to Washington DC for meetings with decisionmakers on Capitol Hill, in the Executive Branch, and elsewhere for a month or more every year.  
A similar project proposed by DOE in 1988 was eventually canceled in 1990 after Senator Bingaman requested a study to check if it might be redundant.  
The Study Group's approximately 2,000 members are not alone in this fight.  In addition to its technical and legal work, the Study Group has at times engaged in broad political campaigns involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of people, all seeking an end to plutonium "pit" production, a halt to nuclear weapons innovation, and realization of long-standing disarmament obligations.   Here are some of the New Mexico organizations (118), the New Mexico businesses (326), the Religious organizations and coalitions (57), and the National & International organizations (102) who were willing to join a 2007 campaign to achieve these ends, which find partial expression in the present lawsuit.  
The Study Group and this lawsuit are supported by hundreds of smaller and medium-sized donors in New Mexico and elsewhere.  
Recently, Everet Beckner, NNSA's Assistant Administrator for Defense Programs during the George W. Bush Administration who is now on the board of Pro2Serve, a prominent nuclear consulting firm, said that not pausing CMRR-NF to consider the implications of the Japanese nuclear crisis would be a mistake.  He has particularly pointed out the dangers of a fire in the proposed 6 metric ton plutonium storage facility, a possibility which LANS, the Bechtel-led corporation that manages Los Alamos, has said it hopes to make impossible -- and therefore need not be analyzed.  LANS is currently proposing omitting fire protection and confined ventilation system for the vault, among ten or more other major safety short-cuts now under secret review.  
A plume from a big fire at this facility would contaminate a large swath of northern New Mexico, depending on the wind and other factors.  
The shocking rise in estimated costs of the facility is best documented in Section D of this affidavit (pdf); some realistic alternatives are suggested at C and here (pdf).  
LANS has very recently admitted that the safety of the existing plutonium facility -- much larger, in terms of usable space, and far more important programmatically to NNSA -- is more problematic than understood to date due to structural deficiencies in the building.  NNSA has planned hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to the building and has carried out some of the initial work, but the need for major ventilation upgrades and now structural renovation raise new questions about the practicality of proceeding with everything at once: existing and planned new programs in the building, including new pit production and industrial-scale production of plutonium dioxide for mixed-oxide (MOX) reactor fuel, the production of additional kinds of plutonium pits and in much larger numbers than before, while also trying to fix the building in fundamental ways -- while also undertaking a giant construction project immediately adjacent to the facility, not to mention several "smaller" projects (in the $50-$300 million range) that NNSA hopes to start nearby as well.  These other projects need to be completed at the same time as CMRR-NF or before in order to realize the "programmatic benefits" of CMRR-NF.  
Despite promises from the Obama Administration to seek unprecedented levels of funding, considerable funding uncertainty remains.  In addition, NNSA expects large increases in pension fund liabilities, close to $1 billion per year within 2 or 3 years (pdf, p. 16).
Study Group Director Greg Mello: "We are doing our best to provide the 'tough love' NNSA needs to avoid a fiasco at TA-55 -- and at the same time finally leave the Cold War behind.  We now know that this site is subject to seismic shocks twice as great as those experienced at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.  The full implications of LANL's challenging geographic situation are only slowly being assimilated by the federal bureaucracy and contractor community.  Both DOE and NNSA operate with an almost unbelievable "culture of optimism," as defendants themselves name the problem.  This leads to management failures again and again and has kept DOE and now NNSA on GAO's "Watch List" of agencies most susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse each and every year for the last 20 years.  
"Now, across the country, NNSA is attempting too much, too fast.  The engineering base, the vendor base, the management, the nuclear-qualified workforce, do not exist.  This project is one that isn't needed.  At a minimum should be delayed to reconsider its merits.  Or, even if you believe wholeheartedly in those merits and don't want to question them, it should be delayed as a prudent step to avoid what might easily become a fiscal and management train wreck in just two or three years.  
"What is most important is the safety of existing facilities.  This is what needs the talent, money, and management attention."
Greg Mello, Los Alamos Study Group 505-265-1200 (office) or 505-577-8563 (cell)
Thomas M. Hnasko, Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin, 505-982-4554 (office)  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Santa Fe Style Nouveau: Architecture Quiz

I am writing an article about this, but first let me share the photographs.. and... let's do a quiz together. 

the other one may be "Jerry"
Here I try to capture the architecture of the first train station along the I-25, coming into the Santa Fe Area: to me, it gives a whole new meaning to "Santa Fe Style" --so it deserves the title "Nouveau".

It was built fairly recently under the administration of now vanished New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (once a presidential candidate--you'll remember), who also built the one track Roadrunner railroad between Santa Fe and ABQ --and sometimes further south. Now you will understand why the train in the first picture is named "Bill": that is just how we do things here.....

Anyway, I don't want to say too much about it myself --that would spoil the fun. Here is the Quiz:

 Please find a word to characterize the architecture in the following images.  One word would be fine, or two or three -- however, if you care to elaborate on your entry--that might be interesting. Reactions from "Out of Town" are of course very welcome as well--it is always informative when some 'fresh eyes' look at one's culture and its expression. 

Hereby I promise that I will donate 1 dollar to the Los Alamos Study Group  for every entry you make about these photos (and it would be nice if you did the same....donate? Best entry wins another bonus!!!
click on the photos to enlarge....


The Dawn of Anomie in America

When I was born in 1955 (see...I am over the hill...) there were 2.5 billion people living on earth. Now, within 3 generations, we are pushing  a population of 7 billion, going on 9 billion. Meanwhile earth has rapidly become a disaster ship  with  chaos spreading like clouds of radio-active contamination... lapping like  tsunami waves against the shore of human sanity.

anomie, photo by Ana SusanJ
In 1897 the great founder of Sociology, Emile Durkheim called this condition "anomie". Borrowed from Greek, anomie literally means"without law" --a normlessness and a progression of depersonalization that  eventually leads to abnormal acts like suicide on the one hand, and and 'civilized violence' like torture and indiscriminate killings in acts of war on the other.

 Don't think just of 'suicide bombers', think of the epidemic of people ending their own lives in despair. Anomie is like an illness affecting whole societies, and it is a contagious condition, it tends to spread. I would argue that 'anomie' is the true cause of the rapidly diminishing 'carrying capacity' of the earth, even more so than rapidly diminishing resources such as oil. Maybe it is just pointing at the same thing: Peak Oil is Peak Humanity.  Peak culture, peak education, peak power, peak travel, etc.

If we had some basic values  in place, such as equality and solidarity  between one-another, and have a healthy "spiritual" relationship with our mother earth, we would not be in this situation at all -- any challenge that humanity would face, would seem surmountable. Alas, this is not the world we live in. We live in an out of control cascading and unravelling eco-drama, motored by neurotic minds, clinging to very primitive fantasies of power. "To be, is to kill" that seems to be the credo of empire --when there seems to be a problem, we will invent a war: war on cancer, war on drugs, war on insects, war on the poor , war war. Because of the blatant inequality, War and Chaos are spreading as rapidly as the 'masters of war' can sell the weapons. From their point of view, Lybia must just be a devil-ish marketing plan...."First we sell weapons to suppress and controll people. Then people get angry slowly but surely, and challenge the regime. Next the regime uses the weapons we sold them on their own populations. And finally, the white knight --who Obama really is-- comes out, and sides with the rebels, and will try to sell them more arms somehow (maybe through Saudi Arabia??--just an idea) and bombs with uranium tipped bombs, the weapons we just sold them to smithereens....we will sell it as a humanitarian mission at home....uh....brilliant...."

The Egyptian revolt in particular has inspired so many here, because we realize that the puppet dictator Mubarak has been kept in power for so long because of our support. And that kind of makes us a dictatorship as well --doesn't it ? The US is kind of like a whore in bed with dictators as long as  the dictators buy our weapons. Apparently there is an elaborate slush fund operation whereby our support for the dictatorship immediately flows back into the coffers of our weapon manifacturers and keep our last industry, "weapons" going full steam (on the backs of the taxpayers).

The American position has in so many ways become hopeless in the Middle East: too many contradictions. The world has had to content with Reagan, Father Bush, Clinton (8 years) Bush Junior,  and now Obama. They have all been complicitous in international relations and more and more so, towards their own population. What these presidents have had in common is a deep propensity to lie, as if they were involved in the deepest cover-up ever -- the American population has been bought and sold.

 In so many ways American governance has been a succession of dictator ship lineages of two families: The Bushes (including Reagan) and the Clintons.  Their interests have now merged.  During Obama's administration, the pentagon, the federal bank and the supreme court are staffed by the same cronies that served Bush and Clinton. Obama in many ways represents  a consolidation of  militarized corporatism --or fascism as it used to be known.  And traditionally a ' security state' relies on torture, murder, war and grotesque threats (such as with nuclear weapons) to meet out its judgements on others. Lockheed, Martin, Monsanto, Bechtel.....etc., (as of now endorsed by the Supreme Court) are ruling the country, with Obama as figurehead, and anomie is becoming a way of live. Good luck America......

Monday, April 4, 2011

Brazil Revisited 2011: Na Floresta

I know I have kind of lacked these days keeping up the blog. During the winter I spend two months visiting  an eco-community way outback in Brazil -- double click some of the photos.

mata atlantica
termite shaped h o r n o
together inoculating mushroom cultures : shitake & oyster
baking in sao paulo with claudio lorenzo at his masaria
before the rains came in from the amazon

horse finds shelter from the rain in the daime temple

 Brazil exudes a kind of self-confidence these days, and people love ex president Lula. Why ?

Whereas in the USA, within the last eight years, 20 million people sank into abject poverty and the middle class is destroyed, and the "Uber class" has become even smaller and wealthier, in Brazil  it can be argued that Lula is the most responsible person for lifting 20 million Brazileiros out of poverty --also within the last eight years.
What a difference a mind makes....One Mind makes the difference....

a new dawn in brazil
the auracaria that towers now....

was planted by the green man

creation: the oneness of water and spirit

the amazon rains have arrived...for days on end.... floresta....
the night twilights...
and full moon nestles in auracaria tree blessed are we....
 After coming back from Brazil, I noticed that the world had changed at jaw breaking speed. Everything is different now. I have found it hard to say anything about such a fluid situation, language falls short when events are moving so fast.... as if the Entity at the End of Time is casting its shadows back in time.....

In the coming entires I will examine some of the profound developments in the Middle East and also in the Nuclear arena.

Things are shifting, we have to procure courage, and realize that there is a 'martial advantage' in reading the signs.