Opinion: Town of Taos adopts resolution regarding LANL contamination

By Suzie Schwartz, Taos
Posted 6/20/19

On May 20, the Taos Town Council unanimously adopted Resolution 19-22, "Regarding Health, Safety, and Contamination Issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory."We are writing to express our …

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Opinion: Town of Taos adopts resolution regarding LANL contamination

Posted

On May 20, the Taos Town Council unanimously adopted Resolution 19-22, "Regarding Health, Safety, and Contamination Issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory."

We are writing to express our appreciation publicly on behalf of the many, many supporters of peaceful and sustainable futures for all. The collaborative effort lasted nearly 16 months and resulted in a comprehensive but concise document of which all can be proud.

The resolution outlines examples of problems at the lab including legacy waste issues encompassing water, soil and air contamination, as well as safety issues related to earthquake vulnerabilities, fires and persistent unresolved nuclear safety issues associated with the handling of plutonium being utilized in nuclear weapons activities.

The resolution defines plutonium pits as the triggers needed to detonate nuclear warheads. [It] cites treaties, recent escalation of global nuclear tensions and the town of Taos and Taos County's historical commitment to nuclear disarmament, legacy cleanup and opposition to plutonium pit production at LANL.

The resolution resolves by requesting that the New Mexico Environment Department work with LANL to strengthen and enforce the 2016 revised New Mexico Energy Department/Department of Energy Consent Order governing cleanup, [and] to include additional characterization of legacy and hazardous waste, increased funding for comprehensive cleanup, elimination of "cap and cover" techniques and significant additional safety training.

The resolution further requests that the Department of Energy halt all nuclear weapons activities at LANL, including expanded plutonium pit production, and redirect nuclear weapons funding to expand nuclear nonproliferation programs, comprehensive cleanup, climate sciences and other appropriate peaceful and sustainable science and technology programs.

In the face of heightened global nuclear tensions and escalating militarism and the enormous role they play in driving the existential threat of catastrophic climate change, the town of Taos is to be highly commended for exercising bold leadership in making this powerful statement. It paves the way for Taos County and the other regional governments surrounding the lab, including the Pueblo governments, to follow suit in the interest of all the Northern New Mexico communities impacted by LANL and for the very survival of future generations.

The town of Taos' legal department has submitted Resolution 19-22 to the county for consideration where it awaits the county's own legal review. This will depend on whether the county's legal department is able to complete its review and any suggested amendments in time for that meeting.

The working group continues to gather business and nonprofit endorsements and petition signatures in support of Resolution 19-22 to grow ever broader public awareness and backing as it moves forward from here.

Many thanks and congratulations to the town council, Mayor Barrone and town staff.

If you would like to read the resolution and sign on with your support, contact Suzie Schwartz at eototos@gmail.com and (575) 770 2629.

Suzie Schwartz was part of the group that wrote the resolution passed by the town. She lives in Taos.

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