TVC in the News
Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Source: The Independent - Letter to the Editor by Vivian Connolly
The process for Livermore Lab employees who believe they were made ill by on-the-job exposures to radiation and/or toxic chemicals to receive compensation and benefits is getting easier. The Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) for Livermore Lab workers was recently approved for an expansion to cover all employees who worked at least a year (250 work days) between 1952 and December 31, 1989 (the previous cut off was December 31, 1973). If you also have one or more of the 22 specific cancers on the eligible list, you automatically are awarded $150,000, plus special medical benefits and an impairment award, even if you were previously denied. Alternatively,if you have a deceased loved one who worked at the lab during this period and suffered one of the specific illnesses, you may also be eligible for an award as a survivor. I am an intern this summer at Tri-Valley CAREs, a nonprofit group in Livermore that offers employees and their families assistance in making claims for these benefits. If you have any questions about your eligibility or for help filing a claim, feel free to contact our Staff Attorney Scott Yundt at (925)443-7148.
Thursday, July 14
Source: The Independent: Letter to the Editor by Stephanie Ericson
We struggle to make sense of senseless violence in our world, whether in war-ravaged areas or in our own communities. While our hearts should and do go out to the many innocent victims, we must not forget the victims of the past.
On August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki killed 70,000 Japanese men women and children within weeks -- slow horrible deaths for most; Hiroshima’s bomb, dropped only three days earlier, killed as many as 120,000. Tens of thousands more died later from long-term radiation effects.
Perhaps even more senseless, we now have the nuclear weaponry to create thousands of Hiroshimas and Nagasakis.
Tri-Valley CAREs and other groups invite everyone to commemorate Nagasaki Day at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 at Livermore’s nuclear weapons lab’s northwest corner, Vasco and Patterson Pass Roads. Our theme is DISARM NOW: We stand with Nuclear Survivors for Global Justice.
Keynote speaker is Tony DeBrum, former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, which suffered from US atomic testing; Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, a Nagasaki A-bomb survivor, will also speak. A short march to the lab’s West Gate will follow to support peaceful direct action participants.
Find more information at trivalleycares.org.
June 21, 2016
Source: Physics Today
A California advocacy group has filed suit against the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The watchdog group, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), says in a June 10 complaint filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California that the NNSA is up to four years overdue in delivering requested documents.
The information in question concerns experiments with plutonium at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a shipment of anthrax to the lab, and management of the lab’s aging high-risk facilities. Tri-Valley CAREs also alleges that the NNSA failed to provide information about a 2012 study on the construction of a proposed plutonium pit manufacturing facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The project, known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility, was formally canceled by DOE in February.
“The DOE and NNSA are egregiously out of compliance with the law,” said Tri-Valley CAREs staff attorney Scott Yundt in a statement.
An NNSA spokesperson says the agency does not comment on litigation. FOIA requires federal agencies to produce requested information within 20 business days, unless it is harmful to national security, is proprietary, or is subject to several other narrowly defined exclusions. Agencies can claim unusual circumstances and take an additional 10 business days to furnish the material. The law also requires agencies to provide the requester with written notification of the date when they expect to deliver the information.
The lawsuit claims that the NNSA has supplied only a small fraction of the volumes of information Tri-Valley CAREs had sought in 2012 about the Los Alamos plutonium study and also has produced only a partial response to the watchdog group’s 2015 request for information on the use of fissile or fissionable materials at NIF. A January 2016 request for information about a 2007 shipment of live anthrax to LLNL from the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah has elicited no response from the NNSA, the complaint says.
Last year Tri-Valley CAREs and the Natural Resources Defense Council asked LLNL to cancel plutonium experiments at NIF because the environmental, safety, and proliferation impacts hadn’t been adequately assessed. But the lab insisted that those considerations had been addressed as part of previously completed environmental impact statements.
Tri-Valley CAREs initiated similar FOIA litigation on six other occasions between 1998 and 2013 to compel DOE to release documents. In each case Tri-Valley CAREs succeeded in obtaining material, although in some cases the group ended up narrowing the scope of the information requested.
“We should not have to file lawsuits in order to obtain public information,” Yundt said in the statement. “Congress enacted the FOIA specifically so that organizations like Tri-Valley CAREs would have free access to unclassified, non-exempt records that disclose the operation of the government.”
June 16, 2016
Source: The Independent
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) filed a Federal lawsuit in United States District Court for the Northern District of California last Friday against the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) and its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The suit charges the two failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which requires federal agencies to respond to public requests for information within 20 days.
According to the complaint, Tri-Valley CAREs alleges four separate instances the DOE and NNSA failed to provide responsive, unclassified documents regarding operations at the agencies’ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The information that is the subject of the litigation is overdue by up to two years, said a press release.
The group’s lawsuit asks the judge to issue a court order appointing a Special Counsel to investigate the pattern of abuse wherein DOE and NNSA fail to comply with the law. The Special Counsel would then determine whether disciplinary action is warranted and against whom.
“The DOE and NNSA are egregiously out of compliance with the law,” noted Tri-Valley CAREs’ Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt. “This frustrates the public’s basic right to know.”
Yundt added. “In some cases, important opportunities for public input have elapsed and projects have gone forward while the group’s information requests went unanswered.”
Tri-Valley CAREs brought similar FOIA litigation to compel the release of documents under the Freedom of Information act in 1998, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013. “We should not have to file lawsuits in order to obtain public information,” said Yundt.
May 27, 2016
The segment is previewed in the opening and the interview runs from 2:22 to 6:26.
May 26, 2016
Source: San Francisco Chronicle - Letter to the editor by Janis Turner
President Obama will visit Hiroshima on Friday, the first U.S. President to do so while in office. White House spokespeople have emphasized that Obama will “offer a forward looking vision” about nuclear disarmament, but have remained vague about its content.
Let me help you, Mr. President. This is not the time for soaring rhetoric that lacks an implementation plan. Instead, you must announce concrete actions in Hiroshima. Cancel the new nuclear-tipped cruise missile. Scale back the trillion-dollar buying binge at the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Announce that you will lower the risk of accidental nuclear war by taking US nuclear warheads off high alert, often referred to as “hair trigger”.
Tangible actions like these will honor both the living and the dead by seizing this moment in history to move us further from the brink of a future nuclear conflict. Mr. President, show the courage of your convictions in Hiroshima.
May 26, 2016
Source: San Francisco Chronicle - Letter to the editor by Marylia Kelley
On Friday, President Obama will visit Hiroshima and lay a wreath commemorating victims of the first atomic bomb used in war. U.S. media attention has been focused on whether Obama will issue an apology (he won’t). In Hiroshima, however, a different and more profound question emerges.
Sunao Tsuboi was a student when the A-bomb was dropped. He remained in a hospital, unconscious, for more than a month. He said recently, “We want to see progress towards the abolition of nuclear weapons before we die. I will repeat that demand until my heart stops beating.”
The Hibakusha (survivors) ask for action toward elimination of these weapons so that no one else will suffer as they have. “Never again” is their cry on behalf of all humanity. I have met with survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I urge Obama to spend time in their company, to look into their eyes and to hear their stories. And, to answer their question: What action will you take toward a future free of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war?
May 26, 2016
Source: The East Bay Times- Letter to the Editor by Loulena Miles
President Barack Obama's trip to Hiroshima on May 27 is an important opportunity for us as a nation to reconsider how much money and energy that we are funneling into modernizing our nuclear weapons today despite the unconscionable tragedy inflicted on so many innocent civilians when we dropped the bombs in 1945.
Incredibly, Obama has quietly rolled out a $1 trillion program over 30 years to upgrade every aspect of our nuclear arsenal, including new warheads, missiles, subs, bombers and nuclear weapons production facilities.
As Bay Area residents, we have a critical role to play in this because one of our nation's two nuclear weapons design labs, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, sits less than 50 miles away and has lobbied extensively for this work.
Our communities should demand a stop to nuclear weapons design work and convert that lab to purely civilian science to improve humanity.
We should all call upon our president to cancel the nuclear modernization programs and comply with our commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
May 24, 2016
Source: East Bay Times - Letter to the Editor by Scott Yundt
President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima on May 27 while he is in Japan for the G7 summit. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to rely heavily on nuclear weapons and is planning to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize all aspects of our nuclear arsenal, including the warheads (many of which will be designed at Livermore Laboratory right in our backyard), submarines, missiles, bombers, production facilities and command and control infrastructure.
I encourage Obama to make substantive contributions to nuclear disarmament while he is there, such as: Removing the U.S. nuclear arsenal from high-alert status and encouraging all other nuclear-armed nations to do the same; initiating negotiations for global nuclear disarmament as required by Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; announcing further nuclear reductions with Russia, as use of even a fraction of the current arsenals could cause nuclear winter and canceling all or some of the $1 trillion, 30-year plan to completely overhaul the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.
April 19, 2016
Source: Democracy Now!
We are on the road in New Mexico, home to Los Alamos and the birthplace of the nuclear age. The atomic bombs used in World War II were designed and developed here, and it remains one of two places that design every nuclear weapon in the United States arsenal. This comes as today marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the former Soviet state of Ukraine, which is still considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. It sent a cloud of radioactive fallout into Russia, Belarus and over a large portion of Europe. Fifty thousand people living in Chernobyl’s immediate surroundings had to be evacuated, and a vast rural region became uninhabitable. The legacy of Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power accident, which occurred five years ago last month in Japan, particularly resonates with residents here in the Southwest and in the Western United States. The other facility is in Livermore Lab in California, and we recently spoke with Marylia Kelley, a Livermore resident and the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, or Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, a partner organization with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. The group just put out a new report called "Trillion Dollar Trainwreck: Out-of-control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks."...
April 14, 2016
Source: The Independent - Letter to the Editor from Scott Yundt
Several local environmental and peace activists will be travelling to Washington, DC in late April to attend the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s (ANA) “DC Days” lobbying week. The event will bring together nearly sixty activists from around the country to speak truth to power about the impacts of nuclear weapons on their communities. The four-day event is organized each year by the ANA member groups, including Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs.
This year the theme is “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck” in reference to the estimated one-trillion taxpayer dollars planned to be spent on “modernization” of our nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles over the next 30 years. A report of that title (with sections by Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley) will be distributed to Members of Congress and will be available on the CAREs website, www.trivalleycares.org . the participants will conduct about a hundred pre-set meetings with members of Congress, committee staff and top officials in the Obama Administration.
Together we will conduct the advocacy necessary to preserve nonproliferation programs and important cleanup activities at nuclear weapons complex sites. Another major focus will be to stop dangerous and provocative nuclear weapons programs.
All are invited to attend an April 21st Tri-Valley CAREs meeting at the Main Livermore Public Library at 7:30 for a report back from this event. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.
April 14, 2016
Source: Early Warning By: Cora Henry and Noah Williams
The trillion dollar trainwreck - A report from the weapons communities of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability details the problems with U.S. plans for its nuclear arsenal. “Proliferation begins at home. That has never been clearer than now, as the United States embarks on what many scientists at its nuclear weapons laboratories are calling ‘the second nuclear age.’ The United States plans to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to ‘modernize’ all aspects of its nuclear arsenal.”
--Trillion Dollar Trainwreck focuses primarily on the FY 2017 budget for nuclear weapons and wastes. It highlights Life Extension Programs (LEPs), proposed new production facilities, and other projects at Department of Energy sites. Most of them are completely unnecessary for national security. All of them are mismanaged, behind schedule, and wildly over budget... Failure to [address these problems] places workers, the public and the environment at ever greater risk of catastrophic consequences.” Full report here. http://bit.ly/1VnF18v
April 14, 2016
Source: The Union : By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
STANFORD, Calif. — “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” These were the words from the Hindu religious text, the Bhagavad-Gita, that flashed through the mind of the man credited with creating the first atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, as the first nuclear explosion in history lit up the dark desert sky at the Trinity blast site in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.
Weeks after that, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, and thrust the world into the atomic age. Since then, humanity has lived with the terrible prospect of nuclear war and mass annihilation. Conventional wisdom holds that the likelihood that these unconventional weapons will be used has decreased since the end of the so-called Cold War. That perception has been challenged lately, especially since President Barack Obama announced a 30-year, $1 trillion program to modernize the U.S. nuclear-weapon arsenal.
Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Monday, the first sitting U.S. secretary of state to visit the site. Kerry was in Japan for a meeting of the G-7 nations. In his public remarks at the memorial, Kerry offered no apology for the nuclear attacks. He did say, though, that the museum “was a reminder of the depth of obligation that every single one of us in public life carries — in fact, every person in position of responsibility carries — to work for peace ... to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons.”
Despite the lofty rhetoric, President Obama has launched what the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability calls the “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck.” That is the title of a new report on Obama’s massive plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal, to be released next Monday. Marylia Kelley is one of the report’s authors. She serves as executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, or Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, a partner organization with the Alliance. Of Kerry’s visit to Hiroshima, Kelley said, on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, “Kerry went empty-handed. The United States needs to go with a concrete plan to roll back its own nuclear-weapons program. You cannot preach abstinence, in terms of nuclear weapons, from the biggest bar stool in the room.”...
April 13, 2016
Source: Democracy Now!
On Monday, John Kerry became the first secretary of state to visit Hiroshima, the Japanese city destroyed by a U.S. nuclear bomb on August 6, 1945. Three days after the Hiroshima bombing, the U.S. dropped another nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands were killed. The United States is the only country ever to drop an atomic bomb. Kerry offered no apology for the U.S. nuclear attack but called for "a world free from nuclear weapons." Despite his remarks, the Obama administration has been quietly upgrading its nuclear arsenal to create smaller, more precise nuclear bombs as part of a massive effort that will cost up to $1 trillion over three decades. We speak to Marylia Kelley. Her group, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, just published a report titled "Trillion Dollar Trainwreck: Out-of-control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks."...
March 22, 2016
Source: Contra Costa Times: Letter to the Editor from Jo Ann Frisch
The 2017 budget request for Livermore Lab exceeds $1.2 billion. What programs will this budget support?
Science is only 2.8 percent of the budget request, and the problem of global climate change is a mere portion of that. An even smaller piece of the budget is allocated to cleaning up the lab's contaminated groundwater and leaking nuclear wastes.
Eighty-six percent of the budget is for nuclear weapons activities. Livermore Lab is developing a new nuclear warhead for a cruise missile to be fired from a plane. Because this new nuclear weapon will appear identical to a conventional cruise missile, it has been called "destabilizing" by Pentagon officials.
I am outraged this dangerous pursuit that could trigger nuclear war will get a bigger budget than science, cleanup and other good programs at Livermore Lab. The lab has world-renowned scientists. Shouldn't they be working on productive things that preserve the environment and make our world a safer place?
Livermore Lab must be brought into balance. I invite others to join me in this effort. More information is at trivalleycares.org.
March 8, 2016
Source: Contra Costa Times: Letter to the Editor from Stephanie Ericson
The president's budget request for Department of Energy funding in FY2017 shows a disappointing and dangerous continued trend toward greater nuclear weapons development.
It does take a few small positive steps, such as this year's modest increase to $69 million in spending for dismantling previously retired nukes. But overall, the $9.94 billion proposed in nuclear weapons activities, up 4.45 percent this year, reflects an escalating commitment to new nuclear weapons development. This runs counter to international treaty commitments, publicly stated goals and common sense.
The new W80-4 warhead, a potential first-strike weapon being developed at Livermore Lab, is particularly disturbing. From $9 million in FY2015 to $220 million in FY2016 to $636 million in five years and beyond, the expected total cost of this warhead plus its associated new missile is $30 billion. Former Defense Secretary William Perry calls it "uniquely destabilizing" because other countries could not distinguish the nuclear-tipped missile from its conventionally weaponized twin, if launched.
Are we now senselessly engaged in a new arms race, in the face of all wisdom, morality and fiscal prudence?
February 25, 2016
Source: The Independent - Letter to the Editor - Stephanie Ericson
The President’s budget request for Department of Energy funding in FY2017 shows a disappointing and dangerous continued trend towards greater nuclear weapons development.
It does take a few small positive steps, such as this year’s modest increase to $69 million in spending for dismantling previously retired nukes. But overall, the $9.94 billion proposed in nuclear weapons activities, up 4.45% this year, reflects an escalating commitment to new nuclear weapons development. This runs counter to international treaty commitments, publicly stated disarmament goals and common sense.
The rapidly upward funding trajectory for the new W80-4 warhead being developed at Livermore Lab is particularly disturbing. From $9 million in FY2015 to $220 in FY2016 to a planned $636 in five years and continuing upward, the expected total cost of this warhead plus its associated new missile is $30 billion. A potential first-strike weapon, its critics include former Defense Secretary William Perry, who calls it “uniquely destabilizing” because other countries could not distinguish the nuclear-tipped missile from its conventional weapon twin, if launched.
We seem to be senselessly engaged in a new arms race, in the face of all wisdom, morality, and fiscal prudence.
January 19, 2016
Source: Contra Costa Times - Letter to the Editor - Scott Yundt
I believe we who live and work in the Tri-Valley have a special duty to pay attention to activities at Livermore Lab.
In recent years, the lab lost its authority to use large quantities of nuclear material because it failed to secure them. Consequently, the lab's role in the U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise began to diminish.
Rather than committing to civilian (non-nuclear weapons) science, the lab began pushing for a new nuclear-tipped cruise missile, known as the Long Range Stand Off warhead.
The need for this new weapon is highly questionable at best. In fact, our U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, who is the ranking member on the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee, said earlier this year, "I know of no compelling case (for developing it)." Sen. Feinstein is in a position to halt funding for this weapon. I urge people to call her through the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
It is time for Livermore Lab to get out of the nuclear weapons business and to commit its significant scientific prowess to more pressing needs.
December 17, 2015
Source: The Independent News - Letter to the Editor from Jo Ann Frisch
I oppose the development of a new nuclear-tipped cruise missile. Recently, I discovered I have unexpected allies.
William Perry, our 19th Secretary of Defense, and Andy Weber, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, have written an analysis of this nuclear weapon titled, “Mr. President, Kill the New Cruise Missile.”
The analysis states, “Because they can be launched without warning and come in both nuclear and conventional versions, cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon.”
The estimated cost would be $20-30 BILLION! And you and I would pay for it with our tax dollars.
Fortunately, this new nuclear-tipped cruise missile can be stopped. President Obama can submit his next budget to Congress without requesting money for it.
Also, Congress can refuse to fund it. I called Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and asked them to oppose this destabilizing new nuclear weapon. Call them at (202) 224-3121.
I urge people to get additional information, including the full William Perry/Andy Weber analysis, at www.trivalleycares.org.
December 15, 2015
Source: Valley Journal/Times-Herald - Letter to the Editor _ Pam Richard
All I want for Christmas is fewer dollars for a dangerous, destabilizing nuclear cruise missile.
Current plans call for designing and building 1,000 new nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The estimated cost is $20 to $30 billion. This is an outrage.
I call on President Obama to cancel this new "Long-Range Stand-Off" warhead and the cruise missile that would deliver this nuclear horror when he finalizes the Fiscal Year 2017 budget request later this month.
Further, I call on U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the appropriations subcommittee through which the nuclear weapons budget must pass, to make sure that no funds are used for its development.
Peace on earth and goodwill to all will not be brought into existence by another potential first-strike nuclear weapon, let alone one intended to be a stealthy surprise when it incinerates an unsuspecting target population..
December 13, 2015
Source: CBS Sacramento
A new housing development in Tracy could bring thousands of people to the city, but an environmental group says where it will be is not safe.
The 5,500 homes in the Tracy Hills development will sit a mile from a military explosives testing site.
In a remote part of San Joaquin County, sitting in the Altamont Pass hills, the City of Tracy plans to build thousands of houses – enticing Bay Area commuters to call Tracy Hills home.
The housing and commercial development out here is not a new plan. It’s been in the works since 1993. So what’s the hold up?
The plans were continuously defused because of what sits on the other side of the hill.
Lawrence Livermore Labs runs a high-explosive testing range for the military known as Site 300.
“The reason why Site 300 is out in the middle of nowhere is because they explode high explosives there,” said Scott Yundt for Tri-Valley CARES.
Yundt is an attorney with Tri-Valley CARES. The non-profit receives a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor cleanup activities at Site 300.
“Since it was listed on the US EPA’s Superfund list, a national priorities list of the most contaminated sites in the country in the early 90s, we’ve monitored that clean up,” Yundt said.
Tri-Valley CARES says it has serious concerns about building homes so close to Site 300.
“There’s also contaminated ground water and contaminated soil near the firing tables,” Yundt said...
October 8, 2015
Source: The Independent
The claims of 129 of the plaintiffs in the long-running lawsuit over lay-offs brought by 130 former workers against the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been resolved through a settlement under which the Laboratory has agreed to pay the former employees a total of $37.25 million in contract damages.
One plaintiff did not settle her case.
The lawsuit arose out of a 2008 workforce restructuring at the Laboratory, which impacted more than 1,000 employees who were let go. In 2013, the claims of five “test plaintiffs,” out of the 130, were litigated in two separate jury trials. The first trial, alleging breach of the plaintiffs’ employment contracts, resulted in a victory for the five test plaintiffs and a damages award of $2.73 million. The Laboratory prevailed in the second trial, which alleged that the Laboratory had discriminated against older employees in making layoff decisions.
While both jury verdicts were on appeal, and with the encouragement of Judge Robert Freedman of the Alameda County Superior Court, the parties engaged in a months-long mediation that resulted in the settlement. The Lab continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the circumstances underlying the work force reduction.
J. Gary Gwilliam of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli and Brewer of Oakland, California, represented the workers.
The staff attorney for the local Lab watchdog group, Tri-Valley CAREs, Scott Yundt commented, “We are celebrating a long-overdue victory for justice for workers."...
October 8, 2015
Source: The Independent - Letter to the Editor from Pamela Richard
I am concerned about how nuclear weapons being developed at the Livermore National laboratory have contaminated our area. Hundreds of toxic and radioactive releases have resulted in soil, air and water pollution, I am worried about the health of my community. A large groundwater plume from the Lab's main site, if left untreated, could result in 1 additional cancer per 1000 Livermore residents drinking the water. People living near the fence line of the Lab's Site 300 high explosive testing range near Tracy are at risk for an increased cancer rate of 1 per 100 people drinking the water.
If you are also concerned about the health leaking from contaminates, join me, friends and neighbors for a community meeting in Tracy. It's at 7pm on Thursday, October 22nd at the Tracy transit Center, Room 103, 50 East 6th St. (near the Grand Theater). Expert panelists will explain the history of Site 300 and its placement on the EPA Superfund Cleanup List. Help to protect your family, your community, and the future environment.
October 8, 2015
Source: The Independent - Letter to the Editor by Scott Yundt
“Nuclear Weapons or a Healthy Environment?” is the theme of Tri-Valley CAREs’ 2015 Youth Video Contest. The basic instructions are simple: Describe what your thoughts on this question and what is important to you through the medium of video. Tri-Valley CAREs,sponsors the contest to engage the next generation in nuclear weapons and environmental policy questions and to ensure that their voices are heard. Youth from ten to thirty years-old are invited to submit videos of two minutes or less, with a Grand Prize of $500, a Second Place prize of $250, and a Third Place prize of $100. All videos are due by October 31. Details of the contest can be found at: http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/contest2015.html Videos must address some aspect of environmental pollution or nuclear weapons activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Main Site in Livermore or its Site 300 near Tracy, CA. Check the website for background info. Contestants need not be from Livermore or Tracy..
September 29, 2015
Source: Valley Journal/Times-Herald - Jo Ann Frisch
On Aug. 6, 1945, a nuclear bomb incinerated Hiroshima, and three days later a second atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki. From the ashes of that tragedy, the United Nations was established with a common vision to end war and eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.
Today, 16,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world's arsenals, risking nuclear catastrophe and costing $100 billion annually.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first use of a nuclear bomb in war, a group of religious leaders and legislators met in Hiroshima and joined forces for nuclear abolition. They released a Joint Statement for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World.
The statement is being circulated for endorsement from other world leaders. It was to be presented to the U.N. on Sept. 26, the "International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," at the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly.
You can help promote global peace and disarmament by encouraging your elected officials, clergy and mayor to endorse this statement. For more information, contact Tri-Valley CAREs at www.trivallecares.org.
September 21, 2015
Source: Manteca Bulletin- Gail Rieger
In 1996, my family moved to Tracy because we loved the safe, small town feel and the rural location. But after living in Tracy for several years, imagine my surprise to discover that my beloved city was bordered by one of the most poisoned sites in America —Lawrence Livermore Lab’s high explosives testing facility called Site 300, located west of Tracy along Corral Hollow Road, and bordering the new Tracy Hills housing development.
Site 300’s activities caused hundreds of documented toxic and radioactive releases to our soil, ground and surface water. Since 1990, Site 300 has been included on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Superfund” list.
I was shocked to discover that I was raising my three children so close to a site whose operations included open air blasts of high explosives and multiple hazardous materials used in nuclear weapons, including uranium.
One of the open-air firing tables used to detonate nuclear weapons experiments with uranium-238 is located almost directly over an earthquake fault. Prevailing winds blow contaminants towards Tracy and into the Central Valley.
As a parent and community member, I’m concerned that the Lab has done very little to inform the Tracy and other Central Valley communities about the cleanup of this toxic mess.
According to Tri-Valley CAREs, a non-profit organization that monitors the Lab (and on whose board I now serve) officials have acknowledged they are uncertain when the cleanup will be completed. I am concerned that without public input, the Lab will continue to do too little cleanup due to budget restraints and public ignorance.
Please join me at a free public town meeting at the Tracy Transit Station, 50 E. Sixth St., on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. to learn more about Site 300 pollution and the status of its cleanup. The health, safety, and future of our children depend on it.
Source: The Independent
The launch this month of Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs’ second annual Youth Video Contest is part of the group’s ongoing initiative to engage the next generation in nuclear weapons and environmental policy questions and to ensure that their voices are heard.
“Youth voices are often left out of environmental decision-making at Livermore Lab,” noted Tri-Valley CAREs’ Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt, who is coordinating the contest. “The 2015 Youth Video Contest allows young people to speak to issues that will impact their future through video, a format of interest to many youth.”
Theme of this year's Youth Video Contest is “Nuclear Weapons or a Healthy Environment?” Videos should describe what the contestant thinks and what is important to him or her.
Youth from ten to thirty years old are invited to submit videos of two minutes or less, with a grand prize of $500, second place prize of $250, and third place prize of $100. All videos are due electronically by October 31, 2015. They will be posted on the contest Facebook page.
While submitters may take a broad perspective, contest rules require that the video address some aspect of environmental pollution or nuclear weapons activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Main Site in Livermore or its Site 300 near Tracy, CA. Both locations are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Superfund” list of the most contaminated sites in the country. Cleanup of contamination at both sites is scheduled to take another 40-60 years or more.
Contestants need not be from Livermore or Tracy. A committee that includes a professional videographer has been empaneled to judge the videos.
Video submittals can be cartoons, live-action, documentary style, etc. Contestants can film with such technologies as cell phones and laptop web cams.
Winners will be notified in November 2015. The three winning videos will be shown at a special awards ceremony and party on December 8th at the Livermore Main Library, 1188 South Livermore Ave. The contest, now in its second year, attracted impressive entries last year, and the three 2014 winning videos can be viewed on Tri- Valley CAREs’ website.
For more information, go to www.trivalleycares.org or contact Scott Yundt, TVC Staff Attorney, (925) 443-7148, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 7, 2015
Source: Street Spirit - Terry Messman
On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., an entire city was shattered and the world was changed forever when an atomic bomb was dropped on the unsuspecting residents of Hiroshima by a U.S. B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay.
The bomb fell silently from the sky for 43 seconds, then a cataclysmic explosion turned the city of Hiroshima into a raging inferno, blasting buildings into nothingness, and incinerating tens of thousands of children, women and men...
August 6, 2015
Source: The Contra Costa Times - Dan Lawton
LIVERMORE -- About 300 activists from a wide range of Bay Area organizations converged early Thursday on Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to protest nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
Dozens of the protesters -- many of them elderly -- were peacefully arrested after refusing an order by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to disperse. According to organizers, the gathering had a dual focus: to raise awareness about the money spent on nuclear weapons research at the lab and to pay respect to the Hiroshima victims. The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing, along with the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki three days later, are credited with expediting the end of World War II...
August 6, 2015
Source: KPFA Radio - Upfront
August 6, 2015
Source: KPFA Radio - APEX Express
July 24, 2015
Source: Oakland Tribune - Stephen Kelly
Around the world, pressure for the U.S. to show leadership toward nuclear abolition is growing. We stand on the brink of a new global nuclear arms race, led by U.S. efforts to modernize its nuclear weapons stockpiles.
However, nuclear abolition has a new ally. Pope Francis recently stated that nuclear disarmament and climate change are key moral issues. Nuclear weapons give the "illusion of security," said the pontiff.
They "squander the wealth of nations." Better, he said, to invest in "planetary education, health and ending extreme poverty."
In May, Pope Francis told children, "Many powerful people don't want peace because they live off war. It's the industry of death."
Aug. 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After seven decades living with planetary nuclear fear, let's abolish nuclear systems. Please get involved and undertake practical action for peace, like talking to a neighbor, writing to your member of Congress, or joining me at the rally at the gates of Livermore Lab Aug. 6. See www.trivalleycares.org for more information.
July 14, 2015
Source: The Valley Times - Jo Ann Frisch
Recently, I attended a public hearing run by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. It was about issuing Livermore Lab a permit renewal to store and treat very dangerous hazardous wastes, including those mixed with radioactive materials.
As currently written, the draft permit would allow on-site treatment of 600 tons of hazardous waste per year. Even more waste could be stored at the lab. All of this would be near community parks and homes, including mine. Therefore, I was shocked to discover that the state is not planning to conduct an Environmental Impact Report before issuing a new permit. Instead, the state will depend on Livermore Lab data that is a decade or more old.
For example, the draft permit doesn't consider the newest U.S. Geological Survey seismic information, which shows that Livermore Lab is at a greater risk than previously considered from ground motion and, potentially, liquefaction. Using outdated earthquake risk analyses, the draft permit allows incompatible wastes to be stored as close as two-and-a-half feet apart and stacked two barrels high.
Livermore Lab is already one of the most contaminated locations in the United States. It is a national EPA Superfund cleanup site. Any new hazardous waste permit must be strongly regulated to protect our community and lab workers from nuclear exposures.
The state will accept written comments until Aug. 3. More information can be found at www.trivalleycares.org. Join me in insisting on an Environmental Impact Report before any new permit is issued.
July 9, 2015
Source: The Independent - Janis Kate Turner, Tri-Valley CAREs Board Member
Across the barren landscape winds blow clouds of atomic ash where buildings once stood and people walked, played and prayed.
Seventy years ago death fell from the sky, twice, three days apart, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Today, more than 16,000 nuclear weapons pose an intolerable threat to all humanity. The threat is growing. The U.S. plans to spend a trillion dollars over the next thirty years “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal.
The human cost is immeasurable. Nuclear weapons threaten our health and environment, prospects for global peace, and our confidence in human survival.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the use of atomic bombs, we will meet at the northwest corner of Livermore Lab on August 6th at 8am.
We will hear from Daniel Ellsberg and listen to music by Country Joe McDonald, Taiko drummers, and more. By our presence, we will say “never again” to nuclear weapons and war. We will affirm a brighter future for our children and our world.
I’ll be there to bear witness, and I hope you will, too..
July 9, 2015
Source: The Independent - Julie Kantor, Tri-Valley CAREs Legal Intern
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control is issuing a permit renewal to Livermore Lab to store and treat dangerous hazardous and radioactive wastes. The draft permit allows on-site treatment of over 600 tons of hazardous wastes per year and storage of over 900 thousand gallons of waste at any time.
The state is not planning to conduct an Environmental Impact Report before issuing a new permit. Instead, they will rely on environmental data from 1999 and a report written in 2005, which only looked to the Lab’s activities up to 2015 and not beyond.
To protect our community, workers and the environment, this permit should be based on current and accurate data. The potentially significant environmental impacts associated with reasonably foreseeable and probable future projects demand the preparation of a new EIR.
Join me in demanding that a new EIR be completed before administering this permit. The DTSC will accept written comments until August 3rd. More information can be found at www.trivalleycares.org. Public comments may be emailed to Alejandro.Galdamez@dtsc.ca.gov.
June 29, 2015
Source: USA Today - Alison Young
Key members of Congress, public health leaders and biosecurity experts demand better oversight and accountability for laboratories in the wake of a USA TODAY Network investigation that revealed widespread safety lapses and pervasive secrecy that obscures failings by researchers and regulators.
The investigation uncovered hundreds of lab accidents and near-miss incidents that occurred in biological laboratories working with dangerous pathogens in recent years, putting scientists and sometimes even the public at risk. Oversight of labs is fragmented and largely self-policed, and even when labs commit the most egregious safety violations, they are allowed to keep operating and their names are kept secret by federal officials, the investigation showed.
The "lack of transparency and significant variability in how safety lapses are reported and reprimanded across all levels of government is very concerning," said U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Johnson, R-Wis., said research on high-risk pathogens is important to protecting public health, but "we need to ensure agencies are holding labs accountable and shoring up trust in this program through reasonable transparency and communication with the public."
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said high-profile laboratory mishaps in recent months "underscore the need for our federal government to improve the way it handles select agents and infectious diseases at high-containment research facilities."
Much of the oversight of labs working with "select agents" — the government's term for viruses, bacteria and toxins that have the potential to be used as bioweapons — is hidden from public view, making it difficult to determine the effectiveness of the inspection and enforcement program. Labs that work with other dangerous microbes that aren't on the government's select agent list — such as tuberculosis bacteria and the MERS virus — are largely self-policed when it comes to biosafety.
...Transparency about labs and incidents needs to extend to the public, said Scott Yundt, an attorney for Tri-Valley CAREs, a community-based watchdog group in Livermore, Calif., that has monitored activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since 1983...
June 29, 2015
Source: San Francisco Chronicle - David Perlman
Livermore scientists at the multibillion-dollar National Ignition Facility have begun a series of controversial experiments zapping tiny samples of the intensely radioactive element plutonium with powerful laser beams.
The nature and safety of those experiments are under challenge by local and national environmental organizations, but leaders of the research insist the tests are safe and essential to assure the “safety, security, and reliability” of the warheads in America’s nuclear weapons stockpile.
Plutonium, a manufactured element, was the explosive ingredient of the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in World War II, and is the essential key to the far more powerful hydrogen bombs now held in America’s nuclear arsenal.
The new experiments are aimed at making sure that the thousands of nuclear weapons stockpiled for decades in the nation’s arsenal are still in working condition.
Opponents argue that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s assurances on safety of the experiments are inadequate, and charge that the lab’s most important environmental impact statement on experiments conducted there is 10 years out of date and grossly inadequate.
Lawrence Livermore lab
Tri-Valley Cares, the environmental organization based in Livermore, and the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington have called for a halt to the experiments and for a new environmental impact statement before any work with plutonium continues...
June 23, 2015
Source: Calaveras Enterprise
It’s almost unthinkable, and probably unknown to most residents, that the scenic hills and wide-open fields of Calaveras County are within the blast radius of one of the only nuclear warhead design sites in the United States.
But that was just the kind of information members of the Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment sought to pass along at their Saturday afternoon informational meeting at the Murphys Library.
“Murphys is within 100 miles of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and in case of a severe accident, the prevailing winds do blow east,” said Tri-Valley CARE Executive Director Marylia Kelley. “Folks in communities like Murphys don’t really ever think about how they can be affected directly by Livermore Lab, but in fact, in a severe accident they could be.”
At the meeting, Kelley explained to more than 30 attendees that there are only two laboratories in the United States that design every nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile, one being the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The other is the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“Every U.S. nuclear weapon was designed at one of those two places,” Kelley said. “To have one of those two places in Northern California, I think, gives us all a special responsibility to be educated on what goes on at the Livermore Lab and to act upon that knowledge democratically and participate on decision making.”
Kelley also brought a wealth of information on the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons and the increasing budget for and production of nuclear weapons.
Most attendees said they had not been aware of the growing expenditures and production.
Letter to the Editor: Hazardous Waste
June 18, 2015
Source: The Independent - Jo Ann Frisch
Recently, I attended a public hearing run by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. It was about issuing Livermore Lab a permit renewal to store and treat very dangerous hazardous wastes, including those mixed with radioactive materials.
As currently written, the draft permit would allow on-site treatment of 600 tons of hazardous wastes per year. Even more waste could be stored at the Lab.
All of this would be near community parks and homes, including mine. Therefore, I was shocked to discover that the state is not planning to conduct an Environmental Impact Report before issuing a new permit. Instead, the state will depend on Livermore Lab data that is a decade or more old and wildly out of date.
For example, the draft permit doesn’t consider the newest USGS seismic information, which shows that Livermore Lab is at a greater risk than previously considered from ground motion and, potentially, liquefaction. Using outdated earthquake risk analyses, the draft permit allows incompatible wastes to be stored as close as two and a half feet apart and stacked two barrels high.
Livermore Lab is already one of the most contaminated locations in the United States. It is a national EPA Superfund cleanup site. Any new hazardous waste permit must be strongly regulated to protect our community and Lab workers from nuclear exposures.
The state will accept written comments until August 3rd. More information can be found at www.trivalleycares.org. Join me in insisting on an Environmental Impact Report before any new permit is issued.
May 20, 2015
Source: Contra Costa Times - Jo Ann Frisch
I invite the community to attend an important public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Arroyo Seco School, 5280 Irene Way in Livermore.
Livermore Lab is in the process of renewing its hazardous waste permit. The lab generates toxic and radioactive "mixed" wastes that are dangerous to lab workers and the community. The proposed permit would allow Livermore Lab to store up to almost a million gallons of hazardous waste. As currently written, the permit would also allow the lab to treat 600 tons of hazardous waste per year.
I'm concerned about the safety of our families and the continuing contamination of our air, soil and groundwater aquifer. The lab has a history of accidents and pollution, and this hearing is a chance for the community's concerns to be heard. We have the right to insist that our health and safety be the top priority. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control will make the final decision based on your verbal and written comments. I hope to see you at the hearing.
Letter to the Editor: Anniversary
March 12, 2015
Source: The Independent - Jo Ann Frisch
March 11th is the 4th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdowns. The earthquake and tsunami caused many deaths and a huge release of radiation. The effects continue today.
TEPCO recently admitted it concealed an ongoing radiation leak at Fukushima for nearly a year. The company is still in the process of stabilizing and decommissioning its damaged nuclear power plant. Cleanup is a distant goal that may never be realized.
The nuclear accident and its victims will be remembered at 2:30pm on March 11 at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. You are invited.
If you can’t attend, there is a national action you can take from your home or office. It’s called “Unplug Nuclear Power.” To participate, unplug yourself from the grid as much as possible on 3/11. Thousands will remember Fukushima in this deeply personal way, including me.
Fukushima is not merely a tragedy from the past, it is an ongoing danger today and a warning for the future, nuclear power is too great a risk for people and the environment to bear.
Video: Statements at the 4th Anniversary of Fukushima Protest outside of San Francisco's Japanese Consulate
March 11, 2015
Source: The Independent Web Journal International USA - San Francisco Channel - Genta Yoshikawa
Click here to watch the video of statements being read - Tri-Valley CAREs' statement is first.
Letter to the Editor: Proliferating nukes seems to be in full swing
March 3, 2015
Source: The Valley Times- Hayden King
The budget request for nuclear weapons in the 2016 fiscal year, recently made by President Obama, saw a dramatic increase. It requested a $1.2 billion funding increase to a whopping $12.6 billion dollars -- up 10.3 percent from last year's budget.
Our local Livermore Lab, where 85 percent of the facility's funding is for nuclear weapons activities, seeks to profit from this increase in appropriations. The lab is heading a program intended to develop a Long-Range Stand Off (LRSO) warhead that would allow planes to "sneak attack" from an estimated 1,000 miles. This new program received a request for $195 million dollars for 2016 and $914 million over the next three years.
As a high schooler here in Livermore, this information is very concerning. As far as I know, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was supposed to "nonproliferate" nuclear weapons, yet the budget is still increasing annually beyond the amount that inflation would suggest. I question in 2016 if this is how public funds should be allocated.
Letter to the Editor: Nuclear Aresenal
February 19, 2015
Source: The Independent- Mailbox Feature - Pam Richard
Most people assume that the United States is in the process of dismantling a large part of its nuclear arsenal, with the implementation of the New START Treaty. Few realize that $1 trillion of our hard-earned money is proposed for new nuclear weapons, and most of that will line the pockets of defense contractors and their cronies over the coming three decades.
The fiscal year 2016 budget contains nuclear weapons spending that busts the budget caps. Funding requested for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration is increased by more than a billion dollars over the current year, to $12.6 billion, which is more than the U.S. spent on comparable activities during the cold war. Many additional billions are in the Pentagon budget.
This level of spending not only empties our pocketbooks, it puts Americans at risk in other ways. Recently, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock’s hands to only three minutes to midnight. The Bulletin noted that nuclear weapons modernization and lack of progress on disarmament were bringing us closer to annihilation, along with climate change.
There remain nearly 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world, a number that can end life on our planet many times over. The U.S. leads in nuclear and military spending. This encourages “modernization” and proliferation in other countries.
Instead of spending $1 trillion over the next thirty years to increase the nuclear danger, we should move the world toward a new era of disarmament. Our children and grandchildren could then know the true security of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Letter to the Editor Regarding Livemore Lab
Source: The Pomegranate -(Granada High School Newspaper) - Erin Vistnes
In 1968, the United States became a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, effectively agreeing to eliminate its massive stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Yet today, the US still owns 4,804 nuclear warheads and continues to create “new and modified” designs.
A significant portion of these weapons are developed at the local Lawrence Livermore National Lab. While nuclear weapons projects are not the only activity at the Lab, the budget for this research and development will consume 89% of the annual spending at a total of just over a billion dollars for 2015.
This program not only violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also poses a very serious threat to the Livermore community. In 1995, a study by the California Department of Health found that children and young adults in this area are 6 times more likely than average to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
The total radiation released by the lab is more than 1 million curies, which is equivalent to the radiation experience by the people of Hiroshima from the nuclear bombing in 1945.
This contamination has been largely tritium, which is often associated with birth defects and cancer. Most concerning of all, Livermore dedicates only 2% of its annual budget to environmental cleanup. Minimal funding provides for insufficient cleanup of both soil and groundwater. This slow progress means that the Lab’s main site in Livermore will not be cleaned up until 2080, according to government estimates.
The Lab’s Site 300 High explosives testing range near Tracy will take even longer to detoxify. As young people who will inherit this mess, we have a vested interest in ensuring that cleanup is given a higher propriety and a bigger share of the annual budget at Livermore Lab.
February 9, 2015
Source: Physics Today - David Kramer
Two environmental organizations have asked the US Department of Energy to cancel experiments with plutonium at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) National Ignition Facility (NIF). Representatives from the groups claim the experiments could contaminate the massive laser facility and possibly expose workers and the public to the toxic element.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and Tri-Valley CAREs, in Livermore, California, charge that existing environmental impact statements do not include an adequate assessment of the environmental, safety, and proliferation aspects of zapping plutonium with beams from NIF’s 1.8-megajoule laser. The experiments are to be conducted in NIF’s massive 10-meter-diameter target chamber without an inner vessel to contain debris.
“Before these controversial experiments begin, at a minimum we believe the government must undertake a stringent environmental review and solicit public comment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs’s executive director. “The planned use of plutonium in NIF raises serious nonproliferation concerns,” added Matthew McKinzie, director of NRDC’s nuclear program. “NIF construction and operation was predicated on agency assurances that plutonium would not be used in experiments,” he stated, citing a 1995 review of NIF’s proliferation potential.
But LLNL spokeswoman Lynda Seaver says the environmental impacts of the plutonium “shots” were assessed in a 2005 LLNL sitewide environmental impact statement and in a 2011 supplement to that statement. She says, “The scope of planned operations at NIF is fully consistent with what was disclosed, considered, and approved by DOE” in those documents.
NIF’s target chamber was designed specifically for using radioactive materials in shots and containing all the debris that may result, Seaver notes. Radioactive materials, including tritium, have routinely been used in NIF experiments with no contamination issues., she notes. Materials will be contained primarily in the target assembly or the associated diagnostics. “In the unlikely event that any material escapes the target assembly, it would be contained in the target chamber,” says Seaver.
All the experiments will use plutonium-242, a non-fissile isotope far less radioactive than fissile plutonium-239, which is used in the primary stage of nuclear weapons. The amounts used will range from less than a milligram to 10 milligrams, around the size of a poppy seed.
Seaver says NIF was built in support of the nuclear weapons program, and that support includes experiments to identify the properties of materials at extreme high pressures and temperatures. Such experiments can’t be done anywhere else in the world, she says. The plutonium shots will have no impact on unclassified work at NIF, including experiments performed by outside users.
Activists from the two organizations maintain that the sitewide environmental impact statement had first stated that plutonium experiments would need to be performed within a removable inner containment vessel to prevent contamination of the target chamber. DOE determined later that the experiments could not be carried out inside a vessel but didn’t formally assess the environmental or nonproliferation consequences of that change, the activists contend.
NNSA, Livermore Moving Forward with Pu Shots on NIF Despite Activist Objections
January 30, 2015
Source: Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor
The National Nuclear Security Administration is not backing off a plan to use plutonium in shots at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility despite a last-minute appeal by activist groups to postpone the experiments. The first shots on the multi-billion dollar laser involving plutonium could take place between Jan. 30 and Feb.3, NS&D Monitor has learned. Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs and the natural Resources Defense Counsel in a Jan. 27 letter called for the experiments involving plutonium to be halted until an environmental review of the lab’s plans are completed, but NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz gave no sign of postponing the shots in a Jan. 29 response. “The use of plutonium on the NIF has been an integral part of the experimental program envisioned for the facility since 2002,” Klotz said. “The experiments conducted on the NIF have already made significant contributions to science and our nation’s Stockpile Stewardship Program and will continue to do so.”
The activist groups have objected to the plans for plutonium shots on NIF over concerns about public safety and nonproliferation. Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley said the plan to use plutonium in NIF experiments involves a “clear risk of contaminating the laser optics and target chamber, and potentially exposing workers and public to plutonium. Before these controversial experiments begin, at a minimum, we believe the government must undertake a stringent environmental review and solicit public comment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.”
Lab, NNSA Downplay Risks
The lab and NNSA, though, have downplayed the risks, comparing the potential exposure to much less that a dental X-ray. The shots will use about 20 milligrams of plutonium or less, about the size of a poppy seed. About a dozen shots per year are expected as the NNSA seeks to expand its understanding of plutonium properties. The NNSA last analyzed using plutonium in NIF in a 2005 Site wide Environmental Impact Statement, but the activist groups have argued that review focused on shots using an inner containment vessel, which is no longer the NNSA’s plan. Livermore spokeswoman Lynda Seavers said NIF’s target chamber was designed to contain radioactive materials and debris. “All materials will be contained primarily within the target assembly or associated diagnostic,” Seavers said in a statement to NS&D Monitor. “In the unlikely event any material escapes the target assembly, it would be contained within the target chamber.”
Klotz, too, emphasized safety. “Safety is always the highest concern to NNSA,” he said. “The NIF was built with many safety features to prevent impacts to the workers, public and environment. All experiments are conducted within all feral, state and regional regulations. LLNL has extensive experience in management of the plutonium for experimental activities supporting the mission of the NNSA. Extensive reviews have been conducted to verify that the staff, procedures, and the safety systems are ready to proceed with the planned experiments.”
January 30, 2015
Source: Contra Costa Times - Jeremy Thomas
LIVERMORE -- Tests on non-weapons grade plutonium are moving forward at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Lab, and may even already have taken place.
Lab scientists, under a directive from the National Nuclear Security Administration, have planned to use the world's largest laser to examine how tiny amounts of the radioactive material respond to conditions found in nuclear explosions, without resorting to underground testing.
Attorney Scott Yundt with the Livermore-based anti-nuclear group Tri-Valley CAREs said he believed the first test shots at NIF were scheduled to occur on Thursday.
"While we are disappointed that the lab is putting the health and safety of its workers and the community needlessly at risk, we will continue to explore other options to challenge this potentially 10-year program and keep the community informed of its risks as it moves forward," Yundt said.
The group's executive director Marylia Kelley on Friday said odds were 50-50 that the tests had already begun, but it was also possible the shots had been rescheduled.
"They've formed a shroud of secrecy around it, which isn't appropriate," Kelley said. "It isn't classified, so that information should be shared with the public. ... If they're so proud of it, why are they so reticent?"
January 29, 2015
Source: The Independent - Erin Vistnes
In December 2014, the Livermore Lab announced the beginning of plutonium testing in a massive laser, known as NIF. Tests could begin in late January 2015.
This is a danger to the community. Documents state that air contamination outside the NIF chamber may exceed the legal limit and with over 100 tests planned, contamination will be exacerbated.
It is unknown how much scientists will actually learn from these experiments. We also do not know how difficult it will be to clean the laser to allow for civilian rather than weapons science.
NIF has cost over $8 billion to construct and operate. What purpose will this investment serve if the chamber is useless due to plutonium buildup following these tests?
Because similar tests involving plutonium are already conducted elsewhere, there is no reason to expose Livermore to these risks.
If used for unclassified experiments instead, NIF could be wildly beneficial for our nation. Plutonium testing is simply no the best use for this machine.
Please call our Senators at (202) 224-3121 to voice your complaints.
January 20, 2015
Source: The Tri-Valley Times - Jo Ann Frisch
Deadly, radioactive plutonium may be used in the National Ignition Facility by the end of January. NIF has cost taxpayers more than $8 billion and has failed every ignition test.
Scientists have said that experiments with plutonium may contaminate NIF usage for future nonweapons, scientific research.
Blasting plutonium with lasers in NIF will lead to more worker exposure to radiation. Nuclear waste will increase too.
Documents obtained by Tri-Valley CAREs disclose Livermore Lab has known since 2009, but never made public, that it will be unable to contain the radioactive debris from plutonium experiments in NIF. Also, there are plans to do at least 100 plutonium shots over a 10-year span. More information needs to be made public before these experiments begin. The public has a right to know.
For more information: www.trivalleycares.org or call 925-443-7148.
At Livermore: Activist Groups Ramp Up Opposition to NIF Plutonium Shots
January 9, 2015
Source: Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor- Todd Jacobson
Members of an anti-nuclear activist group met with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory officials this week about plans to use small amounts of plutonium in experiments at the National Ignition Facility after ramping up their opposition to the plans in a Jan. 6 protest. About a dozen members of Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs and the Catholic Worker Farm gathered at the lab to voice displeasure about the plans, assembling outside the lab’s East Gate with signs, placards and leaflets, according to Tri-Valley CAREs Director Marylia Kelley.
While the activist groups say they're worried about the potential contamination from the shots involving plutonium - both to the public and to the facility’s target chamber - the lab and NNSA have downplayed the risks, comparing the potential exposure to much less than a dental X-ray. The shots will use about 10 milligrams of plutonium and fewer, about the size of a poppy seed. About a dozen shots per year are expected as the NNSA seeks to expand its understanding of plutonium properties, with the first shots expected later this month. No one was arrested during yesterday's protest, but Kelley said the East Gate was closed and protesters were prevented from handing out leaflets on lab grounds by lab security officials and local police officers.
Kelley described the atmosphere of interactions with lab and police officials as "very cordial" and was optimistic about interactions with lab officials, where she said Tri-Valley CAREs will formally ask for an environmental review of the plans. "They are, at a minimum, receptive to hearing our questions and concerns, and I appreciate it," Kelley said. "Time will tell, however, whether the lab is receptive to the idea of following the law and doing the needed environmental analysis and conducting a public (and worker) comment period before vaporizing plutonium with lasers in a heavily congested area, which LLNL is."
January 8, 2015
Source: The Independent - Pamela Richard
Livermore Lab has a plan to conduct experiments with radioactive plutonium in the National Ignition Facility, probably as early as January 2015. I question the safety of these experiments to the employees and the public, from increased radiation exposure and more nuclear waste.
It costs tens of millions of dollars to prepare each “shot” and, without an effective means of containment, plutonium will contaminate the inside of the National Ignition Facility. The cleanup could be very costly, if it’s even possible.
The promise by the Lab that NIF will help create clean energy has never materialized, despite spending billions of dollars. Contaminating NIF with plutonium, however, is a step in the wrong direction, and could make it unfit for any unclassified research.
I believe there is little need to do these dangerous experiments. The public can find more information at www.trivalleycares.org.
January 5, 2015
Source: KPFA- Flashpoints (on at the start of the show) Click here to listen
Janurary 6, 2015
Source: The Contra Costa Times - Jeremy Thomas
LIVERMORE -- A handful of anti-nuclear activists gathered outside the Lawrence Livermore Lab on Tuesday morning urging a halt to plans to test plutonium using the National Ignition Facility laser.
Members of Tri-Valley CAREs and the Catholic Worker Farm held an early morning vigil outside the lab's East Gate, where they recited scripture and proceeded to pass out flyers to lab workers and passing motorists, warning of health risks and demanding an enivironmental review before the tests are conducted.
"We're here to say no to plutonium experiments in the National Ignition Facility," said Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley. "Most lab workers don't know it's going to happen.... We're here to involve the workers in decisions that affect their daily lives."
The lab recently got the go-ahead from the National Nuclear Security Administration to experiment with tiny amounts of non-weapons grade plutonium using the NIF -- the world's largest laser -- to examine how the radioactive material reacts during nuclear explosions. Lab officials said there is no timetable yet for when the experiments will begin.
Livermore lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said health and safety concerns already have been analyzed in a sitewide environmental impact statement, which was completed in 2005. Because the tests involve minute amounts of less radioactive plutonium, they pose no danger to the public or lab employees, she said.
"Everything is fully contained within the target chamber," Seaver said. "In the very highly event it were to escape it would be equivalent to a dental x-ray."
Seaver said plutonium laser "shots" have been planned for NIF since 1993. The lab, she said, is preparing to conduct 10 shots using plutonium this year, with a potential for a total of 100-120 over the next decade, pending an assessment after 2015.
"Now it's gotten everything ready, everything prepared and everybody trained," Seaver said. "These shots will be fairly insignificant actually. It's a natural extension and a chance for NIF to do its stockpile stewardship work for which it was built."
During the demonstration, two protesters made their way past the lab's east gate to pass out the leaflets to employees on their way to work and were turned back by lab security forces and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies, who moved the group to Greenville Road and directed traffic at the intersection for safety reasons. No one was arrested.
Protester Chelsea Collonge of the Catholic Worker Farm in the Sierra Nevada said she attended the vigil out of concern the experiments would shift the focus of NIF to nuclear weapons and away from civilian energy research.
"It will be a hazard to human health and I want to communicate to the workers that there's got to be a better way," Collonge said.
Tri-Valley CAREs' Kelley, who anticipates the tests will start by the end of January, said she is requesting a meeting with lab officials and would consider "investigating other actions" if the experiments move forward without a new environmental review. Besides safety concerns, testing plutonium in the NIF may make it "unfit" for conducting unclassified civilian science, she added, as the radioactive material could contaminate the laser's sensitive optics.
Seaver said the lab expects the tests to cause minimal contamination to the NIF's target chamber, but not enough to affect the unclassified use of the facility.
A decision on whether or not to conduct a new environmental review would be up to the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, she said.