La Jicarita recently published Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s press release about the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) release of its Draft Environmental Assessment for the LANL facility that could radically expand plutonium pit production. The press release also questioned the integrity of this latest assessment in light of the history of plutonium development and the facilities capable of its production: “. . . over the last decade plutonium operations at LANL have had a very troubled history. In February 2014 a radioactive plutonium waste drum improperly prepared by the Lab ruptured underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, contaminating 21 workers and closing that facility for nearly three years, at a cost of at least $1.5 billion to the taxpayer to reopen. Also during that time many major plutonium operations at PF-4 were suspended for three years because of serious nuclear criticality safety concerns. As a result, NNSA is now openly considering whether to have expanded plutonium pit production at LANL or the Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC, or both, while the construction of underground modules at LANL seems increasingly unlikely.”
It’s timely that Los Alamos Revisited: A Workers’ History, by Peter Malmgren and Kay Matthews, is now available to give voice to the many workers—technicians, engineers, truck drivers, tradespeople—who are part of a longer history of bomb building at Los Alamos after World War II. The oral histories that Peter conducted with these workers in the early 2000s are now documented in this story that explores their origins, experiences immediately after the war years, bomb testing in the Pacific and Nevada test site, the health and safety issues they faced, and their attempts to hold the Lab accountable.
The authors will read from the book at op.cit. Book Store in Santa Fe, located in DeVargas Mall, on Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m. If you can’t make it to the reading the book is available from local bookstores, from peter at email@example.com, or http://acequiamadrepress.com/.