SCELP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021

Contact information for impacted organizations listed below
Groups Notify Biden Admin of Impending Lawsuit Over Nuclear Bomb Core Plans
Multi-state coalition says DOE’s plans to massively expand plutonium pit production violate a major environmental law and constitutes an environmental injustice.

A coalition of public interest organizations notified the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) urging a comprehensive review of plans to vastly ramp up production of nuclear bomb cores at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
In Tuesday’s letter to department officials, the groups say this lack of review violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and would saddle already-burdened communities
nearby the two DOE sites with significant quantities of toxic and radioactive waste, contravening President Biden’s executive order of making environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency.

Plutonium pit in Bomb


“The federal government appears ready to embark on this significant change in U.S. nuclear policy without studying the cross-country risks and environmental justice impacts, which indicates that the health and safety of workers and downwind and downriver communities are not worth the consideration or protection they deserve,” said Leslie Lenhardt, a staff attorney for the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, a law firm representing the coalition.
The organizations listed in the letter include Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, The Imani Group, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, Tewa Women United, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive
Environment.
The latter three groups intend to file an action pursuant to NEPA within 60 days if DOE and NNSA fail to reconsider its decision. The nuclear watchdogs have reached out on more than five occasions since 2019 to DOE and NNSA over the necessity of a broad, nationwide programmatic environmental impact statement, or PEIS, of producing the nuclear weapon triggers, also known as plutonium pits, at the two sites. In its March 22, 2021 correspondence (download PDF) with the groups, NNSA said it has no plans to revisit its review of pit production, relying instead on a supplemental analysis of an outdated PEIS completed more than a decade ago, along with a separate review done for the Savannah River Site alone.
The coalition has numerous concerns, including the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, uncertain future radioactive waste disposal that could strand yet more plutonium in South Carolina, and the risk of lethal accidents, fires, radioactive and hazardous waste releases that could harm the predominantly low-income and African American communities near the Savannah River Site and the Pueblo communities and other minority populations living around the Los Alamos National Lab.
Beata Tsosie, Environmental Health and Justice Program coordinator for Tewa Women United, commented, “It is clear that communities impacted by nuclear colonialism need healing, strength and restorative justice. We know that the environmental violence our land-based and Native Peoples, ecologies and waters continue to endure from nuclear contamination will not end until the harm stops. It is imperative that the Biden Administration conduct a nationwide public review of its plans for expanded plutonium pit production that give affected communities a real voice in fighting for true environmental justice. It is our right that a commitment is made to get this done.”
Marian Naranjo, founder of Honor Our Pueblo Existence, said: “The Los Alamos National Lab is located on a geographically unsafe area for the work that transpires there, a place that is and has been considered as Sacred to Pueblo People since time immemorial.”
Tri-Valley CAREs’ director Marylia Kelley highlighted the national implications of NNSA’s decision to expand pit production. “The driver for the program is a novel warhead, called the W87-1, under development at California’s Livermore Lab that requires wholly new components including pits. The W87-1 and a new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missile to carry the warhead are both under scrutiny in Congress and within the Administration, which is just beginning its nuclear posture review. NNSA should conduct the necessary programmatic review to help inform these important decisions rather than try to outrun them.”
“To compound the lack of a thorough system-wide analysis of disposal of waste streams from pit production, the politically motivated Environmental Impact Statement on SRS pit production unacceptably waves off Environmental Justice issues without even so much as a cursory analysis,” noted Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch. “There is urgent need for preparation of a PEIS that does not marginalize environmental justice issues as a tactic used to justify a second factory to produce plutonium components for provocative and costly new nuclear weapons.”
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico commented, “Instead of maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile, NNSA may actually undermine it because all future pit production is for speculative new-design nuclear weapons. This is a colossal and unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money on top of already wasted taxpayers’ money.”

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The South Carolina Environmental Law Project protects the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.

Contact: Leslie Lenhardt, (843) 527-0078, [email protected]


Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety is a 33-year-old non-governmental organization, based in Santa Fe, NM. CCNS works to inform and educate the public, elected officials and the media about DOE activities in New Mexico—at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant—impacting public health, water, air and lands.

Contact: Joni Arends, (505) 986-1973, [email protected]


Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions envisions a world without militarism or systemic violence, with just, healthy, secure, and sustainable communities, and in which Georgia is a leader in regional, national, and global movements. They are an independent, community-driven, grassroots, woman-led organization that works on environmental justice issues as they relate to impacts of nuclear projects at the Savannah River Site, including plutonium pit production.
Contact: Janie Scott, (404) 524-5999, [email protected]


The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition operates in accordance with the mission of the Gullah/Geechee Nation to preserve, protect, and promote their history, culture, language, and homeland and to institute and demand official recognition of the governance (minority rights) necessary to accomplish our mission to take care of our community through collective efforts, which will provide a healthy environment, care for the well being of each person and economic empowerment. The Gullah/Geechee Nation spans from North Carolina to northern Florida and receives the downward flow of the Savannah River, which brings its benefits and also could bring disastrous impacts to a community that relies so closely on the water. Contact: Queen Quet, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, [email protected]


Honor Our Pueblo Existence is a nonprofit organization based in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, immediately downwind from LANL. We embrace the Pueblo teachings of love, respect and care, working together to improve the life ways of our people in order to provide an enhanced and sustainable environment for generations to come. Contact: Marian Naranjo, (505) 929-2151, [email protected]


The Imani Group is a Graniteville, South Carolina non-profit founded by Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins Boseman in 2004, to address criminal and environmental justice, as well as youth development. As the founder she has served on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site’s Citizen Advisory Board and works to address environmental issues at the Savannah River Site and other sites affecting underserved communities. Contact: [email protected]


Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s mission is to: promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Expanded plutonium pit production will have adverse environmental justice impacts given that the population within the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory’s 50-mile radius Region of Influence is largely People of Color. Contact: Jay
Coghlan, (505) 989-7342, c. (505) 470-3154, [email protected]

Savannah River Site Watch monitors a host of projects at SRS from the public interest
perspective, with a focus on cleanup of existing waste and plutonium management and pit production.

We are attentive to health and safety impacts, especially to workers and populations near to the Savannah River Site and are very concerned that NNSA has summarily waved off reviewing the probable environmental justice impacts from plutonium pit fabrication to minority populations living at the fence line.

Contact: Tom Clements, (803) 834-3084, [email protected]
Located in the ancestral Tewa homelands of Northern New Mexico, Tewa Women United is a multicultural and multiracial organization founded and led by Native women. Our Environmental Health and Justice Program integrates body, mind, and spiritual awareness into environmental justice advocacy, policy change, and community education while uplifting Indigenous and land- based families and oppressed Peoples to build grassroots leaders and community capacity.

Contact: Beata Tsosie-Peña, 505-747-3259, [email protected]

Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment is a non-profit founded in 1983 by frontline residents around the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to conduct research, analysis, education and advocacy regarding the environmental justice, health and proliferation impacts of LLNL in California and the U.S. nuclear weapons complex of which it is an integral part.

Contact: Marylia Kelley, (925) 255-3589, [email protected]

Eliminate Nuclear Weapon

Please consider adding your name to the letter to President Biden from the Sierra Club Nuclear Weapons Grassroots Team.   When you click on the link, you will see an opportunity to add your name and comments as well as other actions you can take.The Biden administration is undergoing a Nuclear Posture Review process so it is especially important to contact him now. Mark Muhich from the Nuclear Weapons Grassroots Team will present a Columbia Friends
Second Hour Zoom program on this topic on April 18 th , 2021 at 11:30.

sign petition here: https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/tell-president-biden-back-from-the-nuclear-weapons-brink/petition

Join us on zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2934909472

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Join Back from the Brink and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons on  Thursday, March 4th for:
Ending Nuclear Weapons Before They End Us: Opportunities Under The Biden Administration To Take Action The threat of nuclear war is real and growing, but momentum for nuclear weapons
abolition is on the rise. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has officially made nuclear weapons illegal under international law.  But we need YOU to get involved to once and for all, rid the planet of nuclear weapons.  Join us for interactive workshops and a virtual policy briefing on March, 4th at 11 am
ET. 

RSVP here:

NuclearBan #BftB #NoNukes

Entering into Force

Sierra Club and a coalition of national environmental, peace, and public health groups celebrate the entry into force of the TPNW. We congratulate the United Nations, our affiliate the
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and the fifty one countries who have ratified the historic TPNW. The Sierra Club has long called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear war also call on the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress to deny further funding for the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons or upgrades of existing warheads.
Endorsed by more than 120 nations, and ratified by fifty one so far, the TPNW prohibits parties from participating in, or assisting in any way, the engineering, manufacture, testing, deployment
or transfer of nuclear weapons within their jurisdictions.
The legacy cost and environmental damage caused by the development of nuclear weapons from 1943 to the present is incalculable. The Congressional Government Accounting Office
estimates the remediation of sites across the U.S. associated with nuclear weapons production at $505 billion. This cost could easily double to one trillion dollars, as the GAO’s Office of Legacy Management adds more nuclear weapons production sites to its list. Some sites like Rocky Flats, CO or Hanford Site, WA, will never be reclaimed.

In response, Sierra Club Nuclear Policy Director John Coequyt released the following statement:
“The Sierra Club looks forward to this landmark international treaty coming into full effect, and continues to urge all nations to work towards the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Jeff Carter
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Ira Helfand
Nuclear Ban U.S., Timmon Wallis