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Tuesday, May 08, 2007  
UC System To Continue Running CA Nuclear Labs

By: Bay City News
Published In: Channel 5 CBS/KPIX TV

(CBS 5 / BCN) LIVERMORE The University of California system will continue to manage the labs that design and test the nation?s nuclear weapons, something they have done since the Manhattan Project, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Tuesday.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced that a UC-led consortium, that also includes Bechtel National, Inc., Texas A&M University and a number of other private companies, has been awarded the seven-year contract to manage the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The United States has two other major nuclear weapons laboratories.

The same group won the contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2005. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory management contract was awarded solely to the university also in 2005.

?This is a great victory for the people of California and the University of California. The decision to award the contract to manage and operate the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to the University of California reaffirms the high standards of our public university system and the high quality of the talented and insightful employees at our research institutions,? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Today?s decision was criticized by an environmental group that had bid on the management contract.

?It?s DOE conducting business as usual,? Marylia Kelley, one of the leaders of the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC team, said. ?The network of nuclear weapons ?good-old-boys? who have done so much damage to the nation?s budget, security and environment are in charge of both research labs.?

Livermore Lab Green Renewable Energy and Environmental Nexus LLC was composed of two anti-nuclear weapons groups, Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, along with the New College of California, and a private wind power company, WindMiller Energy. The Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC management proposal would have transitioned the lab from nuclear weapons development to unclassified civilian science research within five years.

They would have removed all plutonium and highly enriched uranium from the lab within four years. Their bid was eliminated from consideration by the Energy Department.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory opened in 1952 and was managed, along with Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories solely by the university for their first half century. Following a series of scandals involving mismanagement and security leaks, the Bush administration opened up management contracts to competition.

UC and its partners could earn a maximum of $45.5 million annually in management fees if the lab meets performance goals. The Energy Department also has the ability to extend the contract for an additional 13 years depending on performance.

Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley are both named after Ernest O. Lawrence, the first University of California Nobel Prize winner. He won the physics prize in 1939 for his invention of the cyclotron, one of the earliest types of particle accelerators.

He spent 30 years as a professor at UC Berkeley before his 1958 death. In addition to the laboratories, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and Lawrencium, element No. 103 on the periodic table, are named after him.

Lawrence was a key figure in the Manhattan Project, the United States? development of the atomic bomb in World War II. He is credited with developing the process used to separate the uranium that was used in the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

Lawrence also recruited J. Robert Oppenheimer, another UC Berkeley physicist, to work on the development of the atomic bomb in the early 1940s. Oppenheimer would eventually lead the effort at Los Alamos, N.M. that developed both the uranium bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan and the plutonium bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945.

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