Reading Room

Tuesday, July 17, 2007  
Public Meeting will further explain lab's plan

By: Jake Armstrong, Record Staff Writer
Published In: Stockton Record

TRACY - Air pollution regulators Wednesday will explain Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's request to more than triple the amount of explosives used in test blasts in the hills southwest of Tracy and outline how the public can get involved.

The lab is asking permission to detonate as much as 350 pounds of high explosives a day and up to 8,000 pounds per year - with the potential to release up to 453 pounds of depleted uranium into the air yearly at its test range, known as Site 300.

This is the second round for the request, which San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials revoked in March after learning the blasts would contain depleted uranium, a less-radioactive version of the element. After public confusion during the first application, district officials will try to remove the obfuscation by explaining the district's review process and opportunities for members of the public to make known their thoughts on the permit, which would allow for the largest detonations in the much of the San Joaquin Valley.

Bob Sarvey, a Tracy business owner who opposes radioactive elements being used in the blasts, said the public should know what amount of those elements could be carried to Tracy on gusts from the Altamont Pass.

"There's a sort of confusion about how much is going to get blown out up there," Sarvey said.

The blasts also might contain tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, according to lab officials.

The lab maintains the bigger blasts will not put the public at risk. Lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton said the lab wants the public to know how the review process will work.

"I think anytime we can provide more information on how a public agency is going to make a decision, that is always a good thing," Houghton said.

Contact reporter Jake Armstrong at (209) 239-3368 or

Representatives of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will hold an informational meeting on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's request to increase the amount of explosives used in blasts at Site 300, a high-explosives test range southwest of Tracy.

The meeting will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at Tracy City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza.

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