Tourists driving I-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe expect to see billboards extolling ski resorts, restaurants and casinos, but may be surprised by a series of evocative ads that question the nuclear-weapons industry in New Mexico.
The Los Alamos Study Group, a nonprofit, research-oriented, nuclear disarmament organization in Santa Fe, has placed five billboards with an anti-nuclear weapons theme along that stretch of highway.
The billboards' messages: "Welcome to New Mexico, America's waste colony"; "New Mexico world center of weapons of mass destruction"; "New Mexico #1 in nuclear weapons, #1 in poverty, COINCIDENCE?"; and " 'Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st Century' - the Vatican."
The billboards highlight the fact that more federal funds ($1.8 billion) are spent per year in New Mexico on nuclear-weapons research and production than any other state, and that the state is home to over 2,500 nuclear warheads. This booming nuclear industry is contrasted with the state's high poverty rates and nuclear-waste problems (Los Alamos Lab's Area G alone contains 7 million cubic-feet of radioactive and chemical waste).
You can reach the Los Alamos Study Group at 212 E. Marcy Street, Suite 10, Santa Fe, NM 87501, call 505/982-7747, e-mail email@example.com, or check out the group's Web site, www.lasg.org.