Easter Peace… Let’s Hope
Nuclear weapons are immoral and expensive. One nuclear blast could kill several million people, not including those who would suffer from radiation sickness and genetic mutations. Nukes contaminate air, soil and water for decades. The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars making the weapons.
A new weapons buildup is underway with a plan to increase our nuclear arsenal by 80 bombs per year starting this decade. Thirty pits, or nuclear cores, are to be built in Los Alamos, N.M., and 50 at Savannah River, S.C. Between $5 and $7 billion has already been spent on preliminary costs. At Los Alamos, an additional $12 billion is needed. Once production begins there, 30 pits will cost $3 billion per year.
Production engenders deadly waste. Currently such waste is stored at various temporary sites around the country. Los Alamos houses nuclear waste, dating from 1944 to the present, waiting to be moved to permanent storage. New Mexico has a long-term storage site that is not licensed or equipped for this kind of waste, though efforts are underway to enlarge and relicense the facility. Building disposal sites and transporting waste to them from around the country is hazardous and expensive, but permanent disposal is needed.
Why are we spending such inordinate amounts of money on nukes? One reason is that some companies are making big profits. Most work on nuclear weapons is contracted to private companies by NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration). NNSA requires less accountability from its private contractors than any other federal agency. The contractor that runs Los Alamos National Lab was awarded a $23 million bonus last year, despite cost overruns and concerns about safety and security. Similarly, Congress exercises very little oversight of NNSA. Former contractors often work for NNSA, which, with taxpayers’ money, lobbies Congress for more money that will then go to contractors to build more nuclear weapons.
Write your congressperson about the cost of our nuclear buildup. There are much better uses for that money! Then plan to join the Loretto Peace Committee on August 6 in Los Alamos for a peace vigil.