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Wednesday, January 10, 2007  
Watchdog groups' Livermore Lab bid is rejected

By: Ian Hoffman
Published In: San Jose Mercury News

Federal nuclear weapons officials have rejected a bid by disarmament and renewable energy activists to manage the Lawrence Livermore weapons design lab, saying the "green team'' didn't fit federal plans.

The team, calling itself GREEN LLC, was led by two weapons-lab watchdog groups, Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico.

The groups never really expected to run the sprawling bomb lab, but they were offended that the National Nuclear Security Administration said the team's proposal ran afoul of federal law and "did not demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of the solicitation where it proposed `change in the overall direction'" of the lab.

Officials of the nuclear agency so far haven't identified what laws might have been broken by the GREEN LLC bid, which proposed a gradual shift from weapons work into unclassified research on climate change and renewable energy.

"It's ironic because our bid proposed to bring Lawrence Livermore lab more in line with national and international law,'' said Marylia Kelley, head of Tri-Valley CAREs.

For the first time, the activists figured, the lab could be managed in accordance with U.S. promises in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to work toward full disarmament, rather than maintaining and designing new weapons.

"Our proposal was arbitrarily and improperly eliminated because NNSA rejects the principle that the U.S. should lead the world toward nuclear nonproliferation by demonstrating restraint in its own weapons programs,'' said Jay Coghlan, head of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico.

Federal officials say GREEN LLC was proposing a different lab than the government specified in its bid request.

"The bottom line is their proposal did not meet the criteria for running the lab,'' said NNSA spokesman Bryan Wilkes.

The activists said federal officials erroneously claimed that mandatory pieces were missing from the team's bid yet the NNSA hasn't made itself available to discuss the matter in a required post-bid debriefing.

"So, in a weird way, there's no way for us to even tell them, `Why don't you look on this page and find what you say is missing,' '' Kelley said. "We are expecting our next step will be a (formal contract) protest.''

The lab has been run solely by the University of California since its inception in 1952. The current contract expires Sept. 30.

The two top contenders for the job are a team led by UC and Bechtel National and another led by defense contractor Northrop Grumman

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