Reading Room

Thursday, November 01, 2007  
More Nuclear Weapons

By: Martha Priebat, Letter to the Editor
Published In: Indepenent, Livermore

I recently attended a meeting that discussed the National Nuclear Security Administration plans to build new nuclear weapons. This plan stands in defiance of the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which the United States is signatory.

I ask: Do we need new nuclear weapons? Our scientists tell us the current arsenal will remain reliable for a minimum of 100 years ? or longer. So, we must conclude that new nuclear weapons are not needed.

In addition, the development and production of these new weapons will contaminate the environment, adding to the already known contamination of Livermore and nearby communities.

Livermore Lab has been chosen to develop new techniques for making plutonium pits (the bomb cores) for these new weapons. Livermore is already contaminated with plutonium in several known sites such as Big Trees Park. There is other contamination. Homeowners for two decades were invited to come and get free sludge that was later determined to have been contaminated with plutonium from Livermore Lab.

Any work with plutonium in experiments to create new techniques to make bomb cores is bound to result in further contamination. The last time bomb cores were being manufactured at industrial scale, at the Rocky Flats Plant, the site was shut down following a raid by the FBI environmental crimes unit.

While Livermore Lab will not be the location to house the full-scale pit factory, it is the site that will try to ?work the bugs out;? out of robotic and other novel production line techniques that will be installed in the new factory. Imagine Livermore Lab employees heating and pouring plutonium and machining prototype bomb cores. This is neither safe nor sane. Livermore Lab is less than 200 feet from an earthquake zone. What might happen in Livermore?

In addition, I have read of a desired upgrading at Livermore?s airport to allow larger corporate jets to land. What is to prevent terrorists from flying a jet toward the Livermore airport but crashing it into the Livermore Lab plutonium facility?

Livermore is the only one of the country?s nuclear weapons facilities in such a crowded area. It is time to improve our safety rather than start highly dangerous, internationally illegal activities.

Martha Priebat


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