In 1943, the Manhattan Project was started at Los Alamos, New Mexico, on land taken from Native American pueblos. There, scientists developed the world’s first atomic bombs, which killed up to a quarter of million people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then the work has continued at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where a new generation of scientists have designed the majority of the U.S.’ nuclear bombs and warheads, weapons of mass destruction hundreds of times larger than those first two bombs.
The cost of this work is immense. Billions of dollars of taxpayers money spent on weapons production and millions handed over as profit to the two private corporations that run the laboratory. Radioactive and chemical pollution spills into the surrounding air, land and water, gravely affecting the health of local communities, and poisoning the water supply of Santa Fe.
“Up On The Hill” is a new film that exposes the horrifying truth of the weapons production, corporate profiteering and environmental and health consequences of the work of Los Alamos National Laboratory – truths that for too long citizens and politicians alike have chosen to ignore. Please view the trailer, and click here to make a donation in support of completing production of this important film! You can also help to spread the word by joining the film’s Facebook Page, following us on Twitter, and sharing this information with others.
Meanwhile, participants in New Mexico’s Occupy movement and allied organizations are planning a weekend of large-scale non-violent direction in Santa Fe and Los Alamos in August 2012 to coincide with the anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombs dropped on civilian populations.
Nuke Free Now plans weekend of action Aug. 3-6
Introducing Nuke Free Now
Information from the group page on Facebook:
The mission of this group is to raise awareness of the true costs and consequences of nuclear weapons production, nuclear energy, & corporate profiteering. We are transforming the nuclear narrative and inspiring a life-affirming future.
We of the Occupy New Mexico Movement, nukefreenow.org, and allied organizations worldwide invite you to join our 4-day event to transform the nuclear narrative in the public consciousness and inspire a life-affirming future.
The event will take place August 3rd through the 6th (Hiroshima Commemoration Day). Please join us in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, New Mexico, or coordinate an event in your community to call for the end of nuclear weapons production and nuclear energy, disarmament, clean-up and remediation, peace and justice.
Another great way for supporters to get ready for these days of direct action, and to help you understand why many New Mexicans are so upset with the devastating economic, cultural and environmental injustices committed by Los Alamos, is to attend a “toxic tour” of the area. Led by Santa Fe-based Concerned Citizens for Nucleaar Safety (CCNS), this irregularly scheduled tour provides a comprehensive view regarding the deadly and dangerous risks that LANL is taking with the health of local residents, the natural environment, and the region’s water supply. Or you can stay at home and simply read this excellent in-depth account below from a recent Los Alamos reality tourist!
Toxic Tour: Meet your local watershed by Steve Klinger (The Light of New Mexico, March 2012)
You’d expect to be taking a “toxic tour” in an industrial part of the Rust Belt, or maybe around the uranium mines of Libby, Montana or even Grants, New Mexico. In the beautiful bottomlands along the Rio Grande northwest of Santa Fe, and even up on the rugged Pajarito Plateau, gouged by deep, tree-lined canyons, with outcroppings of basalt and layers of volcanic tuff, you probably wouldn’t be looking for deadly toxins or high levels of radionuclides. That is, unless you thought about what inhabits the area on the edge of the Pajarito Plateau—Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Toxic Tour, guided by Joni Arends, executive director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), with help from fellow activists including David Bacon and Mark Sardella, is an eye-opening journey through terrain many of us who live in Santa Fe or northern New Mexico have seen from some distance, or driven past without too much thought of what lurks beneath the surface of our watershed. For water is what this tour is all about, even though air and soil are of course intimately involved as well. Water that irrigates our crops and slakes our municipal thirst and washes our children and pets and cars—and that may not be nearly as harmless as we casually believe, trusting those who are supposed to regulate its safety.
The truth is, we don’t think too much about where our water comes from—beyond the taps and faucets in our homes—unless it is visibly compromised or lacking, or until certain concerns are brought to our attention.
But Arends and a number of other activists who have been keeping a watchful eye on Los Alamos and its nuclear activities for years, want more New Mexicans to think about a major source of their water and the kinds of things that catch a ride along with the storm runoff and the melting snow from the Jemez Mountains. They want authorities to take a closer and more accountable look at the water from Los Alamos that winds up in the Rio Grande, where the Buckman Direct Diversion Project now pumps thousands of gallons into Santa Fe’s domestic water supply, while the rest flows downstream to Cochiti, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and El Paso and percolates into underground aquifers.
On a cold and windy Saturday morning, the Toxic Tour starts in Los Alamos in the maintenance yard of the Los Alamos Public Schools, where a dozen interested participants huddle against a stiff March breeze. Arends points out three massive gas tanks, which she says are double-lined but otherwise simply sit above the bare concrete- and asphalt-paved yard perched on the edge of Pueblo Canyon, where a water treatment plant can be seen below. She tells how during the early years of the Manhattan project (1943) waste disposal largely consisted of rolling metal drums full of contaminants—radioactive, toxic and hazardous wastes—over the edge and into this and other canyons. Further up the hill, an open retention pond above the yard collects untreated surface water and debris, and in storms its overflows spill into the canyon, where they will work their way around the water treatment plant and down toward the Rio Grande.
One canyon over is Los Alamos, the deep gorge that begins above the townsite and follows NM 502 through San Ildefonso Pueblo to the river at Otowi. Across from the Canyon Rim Trailhead, Arends points out the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, which she says, when it operates has “the dirtiest [emissions] stack in the Department of Energy complex.”