Reading Room

Wednesday, May 09, 2007  
Consortium wins contract to run Livermore lab

By: Ralph Vartabedian
Published In: Los Angeles Times,1,1452581.story?coll=la-news-a_section

The partnership, which is given a seven-year deal, includes the UC

system, which has long run the facility.

The Energy Department on Tuesday awarded a seven-year contract to

operate Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to an industry consortium

that includes the University of California, which has run the lab since

it opened in 1952.

This year the lab was selected by the Energy Department to design and

develop a new generation of nuclear bombs, known as the reliable

replacement warhead. A report by an independent group of scientists

warned that the project faced serious technical challenges.

The management consortium, Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, was

selected to run the Livermore lab over a competing group led by Los

Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. Energy Department officials said

the consortium submitted a superior proposal and a lower bid.

Under the new contract, the team, which includes Bechtel National Inc.,

BWX Technologies Inc. and Washington Group International Inc., would

receive $297.5 million over the seven-year contract. The consortium also

includes Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University and several

small businesses.

The University of California's contract to operate Livermore was put up

for bid after Congress grew concerned about the management of another

facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has been shaken by a

series of security and safety lapses over the last decade. The Livermore

lab escaped much of the criticism but was included in the requirement

for a contract competition.

The consortium is nearly identical to the group that took over Los

Alamos, though the relative shares that each member has in the

corporation is different. At Livermore, the University of California

controls half of the six-member board, said Gerald L. Parsky, chairman

of the consortium's board.

Another bid was submitted by a group calling itself Green LLC, which

consisted of two nuclear watchdog groups, Tri-Valley Communities Against

a Radioactive Environment and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. Energy

Department officials said Green's proposal to transform the lab into a

"center for civilian science" was not responsive to the government's


Meanwhile, three students and alumni at UC campuses in Santa Barbara,

Santa Cruz and Berkeley went on hunger strikes this week to protest the

involvement of the university system in designing nuclear weapons.

Energy Department officials dismissed their demands.

"We urge students participating in this action to cease the strike and

to eat," said Chris Harrington, a UC spokesman.


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