Monday, August 9, 2010

Protest Planned for Los Alamos, NM--Join them if you're in the area!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Protest Planned for Los Alamos

By Phil Parker
Journal Staff Writer

CHIMAYO — Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the U.S. dropping
an atomic on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, an attack
meant to end World War II. Activists have mobilized on eight
acres in Chimayó with a plan to ensure that, on that day, Los
Alamos National Laboratory hears their calls for a nuke-free

The 10-day event here — called Disarmament Summer Encampment — is
being organized by Think Outside the , a national nuclear
abolition group. Activists are camping on the grounds, owned by
Teresa Juarez, whose grandson Miguel Moreno lives there and is one
of Disarmament Summer's lead organizers. Seven of the family's
dogs run around freely during the daytime, and tents are
everywhere as nuclear opponents continued to fill up the camp on

The plan is to gather Friday at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos for a
rally that will incorporate performance art to tell stories of
nuclear power's damaging effects on communities around the
country. Then the group will march through the town and onto lab

What the protest will look like has yet to be determined (there is
talk of puppets), but members of Think Outside the want the
whole procession carefully planned, so that when they take to the
atomic 's birthplace on Friday, they're armed with a group of
protestors educated on what exactly they're standing up for.

To that end, about 30 people gathered in a wide circle under a
tarp Sunday afternoon for a workshop called "Nukes 101." Speakers
from varying parts of the country took turns tackling a different
aspect of what they see as nuclear power's destructive legacy.

Twa-le Abrahamson told the group about the Spokane Reservation in
Washington, where she's from. Abrahamson said uranium mining went
on there for decades, beginning in the 1950s, and the health
effects have been devastating for tribal members who spent years
working the mines with no clue of the toll to their bodies.

"A lot of people are sick," she said. "There are a lot of widows."

Rozlyn Humphrey, from Aiken, S.C., said plutonium from the
Savannah River Site, built near Aiken in the 1950s to help
construct nuclear weapons, has done irreparable harm to the land
and river there.

"You dare not eat fish out of the Savannah River," she said. And
in a part of the country where hunting is dogma, she said, no one
hunts because radiation in the ground has caused the vegetation to
be contaminated, so animals that eat it aren't safe.

Other activists told similar tales, but the essential point of
Disarmament Summer Encampment may have been most plainly expressed
by Jennifer Nordstrom, from Racine, Wis.: "Nuclear weapons are
still being used — in testing and in the global politics of threat
and fear. ... New Mexico is the sacrificial state for the nuclear
weapons industrial complex."

Organizers with Think Outside the don't want the lab closed
down — Miguel Moreno said too many people in rural San Miguel
County depend on Los Alamos for work: "We don't want to take
anything away; we want that money, we just want it for something

Think Outside the 's Jono Kinkade said his organization is
keeping a close eye on planning for a new plutonium pit in Los
Alamos. The lab earlier this year announced plans for its
Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building, which
would take a decade to build, with 22,500 square feet of lab
space, much for analyzing plutonium and other radioactive
materials. Funding for the building still hasn't been approved by
Congress, but the total price could be $4 billion, based on
National Nuclear Security Administration proposals.

"Stopping the CMRR (from being built) is a central focus," Kinkade
said. "We're trying to create political pressure, because that
money can be better spent on cleaner technology and renewable

LANL officials have said that the mission, for decades, has not
been to make new nuclear weapons but to maintain the country's
existing stockpile. As nuclear age, scientists need to
upgrade their technology. That work would be carried on at the
CMRR building. And former NNSA manager Don Winchell told an
audience in Española in June that the CMRR was vital for national
security because of nuclear forensics work that helps the
government track nuclear materials in other parts of the world.

"We're not building fancy new weapons," Winchell, who retired last
month, said then.

"If they want to have a beautiful, expensive new facility, why not
use it to create renewable energy?" Jennifer Nordstrom said.
"There could be an economic transformation if they changed their
focus from and destruction to life-changing renewables."

Think Outside the is hoping that message comes across loud
and clear Friday.

For more information on Think Outside the , visit

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