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Tri-Valley CAREs Press Releases:   Most Recent  •  2012  •  2011 and earlier


For media inquiries contact: Marylia Kelley, (925) 443-7148, marylia@trivalleycares.org


"Foreclose on the Bomb, Not the People"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 30, 2012

Hiroshima - Nagasaki Commemoration and Protest at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory

WHAT: Bay Area peace and justice advocates will mark the 67th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Livermore Lab, where the U.S. is presently spending billions of dollars to create “new and modified” nuclear bombs. This event is part of national "Nuclear-Free Future Month". The "Occupy Oakland" bus will bring some participants to the venue from the MacArthur BART station. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of two principle U.S. facilities engaged in nuclear weapons R&D.

WHEN: Sunday, August 5, 2012, from 4 PM to 6 PM, with a procession to Livermore Lab following the program. Please note that 4:15 PM local time on August 5 is 8:15 AM August 6 in Hiroshima, the precise moment the first nuclear bomb used in war exploded.

WHERE: A rally will take place at William Payne Park in Livermore, across the street from the Lab at Vasco and Patterson Pass Roads. Following the program, at approximately 6 PM, nuclear disarmament advocates will march to the Livermore Lab. Participants will symbolically “foreclose on the bomb” with art, paper chains, cranes, locks and foreclosure signs. Some may choose to also peaceably risk arrest.

WHO: “Foreclose on the Bomb…” is co-sponsored by more than two-dozen organizations. Featured speakers and performers are:

• Mr. Takashi Tanemori, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, who will discuss his experiences that morning and the aftermath, including his journey from anger to peace.

• Natalia Mironova, Ph.D., a former legislator, and longtime leader of the Movement for Nuclear Safety in Chelyabinsk, Russia, will talk about the emerging dangers of a new U.S. – Russia nuclear arms race and the hurdles to and necessity of nuclear disarmament.

• Michael Eisenscher, a co-founder of U.S. Labor Against the War, will speak to the U.S. military budget and its impact on human needs and working people.

• Tara Dorabji, of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs, and Andrew Lichterman, of Oakland’s Western States Legal Foundation, will speak on Livermore Lab and the centrality of nuclear technology in the military-industrial-technology complex, respectively.

• Emma’s Revolution, a popular and topical musical duo will preform, as will Kaylah Marin, Daniel Zwickel, and Taiko drummers.

WHY: August 6th and 9th 2012 will mark the 67th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This year, commemorative activities will connect the ongoing existential threats posed by nuclear weapons with the negative economic impacts of massive investments in militarism and nuclear technology on basic human needs in a time of global economic and environmental crisis.

CONTACT:

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs: 925-443-7148; cell on-site: 925-255-3589.

Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation: 510-839-5877; cell on-site: 510-306-0119

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Key Congressional Appropriations Amendment Passage Supports Needed Nonproliferation Program Over Troubled Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6, 2012

Key Congressional Appropriations Amendment Passage Supports Needed Nonproliferation Program Over Troubled Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Scheme

Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Members of the House from both sides of the aisle spoke in favor of Rep. Fortenberry’s amendment, which moved $17 million from the Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).  The amendment, which passed by a vote of 328 to 89, was offered to the House Appropriations bill to fund Department of Energy programs.

“The passage of the amendment is a clear indication that congressional oversight of the MOX program is increasing” said Katherine Fuchs, Program director at the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network to which Tri-Valley CAREs has belonged since 1989.

The amendment comes on the heels of an earlier cut of $152 million from the MOX program by the House Appropriations Committee.

“The Global Threat Reduction Initiative is the leading edge of our nation’s ongoing effort to secure loose nuclear materials,” explained Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director, Marylia Kelley.  “Rep. Fortenberry’s amendment brings funding for this critical program up to the President’s requested level for Fiscal Year 2013.”

The MOX program is intended to make 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium inaccessible for use in a weapon by blending plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons with depleted uranium for use in commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

Tom Clements, ANA’s Nonproliferation Director, noted, “The MOX program has been plagued by technical, financial, and scheduling problems and no utilities have contracted to use the MOX plutonium fuel.”

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and Tri-Valley CAREs welcome increased Congressional oversight of the MOX program’s out of control costs.

The Report that accompanies the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill amended this afternoon expresses the committee’s concerns about the program: “There is still no fidelity on the total project costs and timeline to get the MOX facility up and running, and few details have been provided on the long term investments that will be needed to support full operating feedstock requirements.... The Department [of Energy] is now reporting internally that the total project costs could be understated by as much as $600,000,000 to $900,000,000, and that the project will overrun its projected completion date by months if not years. Further, the updated cost estimates provided by the NNSA for the projected annual operating costs of the MOX facility have skyrocketed and are now 2.5 times the projections of just two years ago.”

Speaking for his amendment, Rep. Fortenberry said “We should be proud of our work as a country in our nuclear security efforts, but it is abundantly clear that the mixed oxide fuel program is not the most productive use of our constituents' taxpayer dollars…”

Tri-Valley CAREs is a Livermore, California-based organization of 5,600 members who watchdog the nearby Livermore Lab and the U.S. nuclear weapons complex of which Livermore Lab is a part.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is a national network of 35 organizations working to address issues of nuclear weapons production and waste cleanup.

CONTACT:

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, marylia@trivalleycares.org, 925-443-7148

Katherine Fuchs, ANA Program Director, kfuchs@ananuclear.org, 414-324-4228

Tom Clements, ANA Nonproliferation Policy Director, tclements@ananuclear.org, 803-834-3084

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Watchdog Group Blasts House Rules Committee Decision to Prevent Debate and Vote on Crucial Amendment to Restore Nuclear Safety in National Defense Authorization Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 17, 2012

House NDAA Will Compromise Nuclear Oversight and Risk Health and Safety
at Livermore Lab and other Nuclear Weapons Sites across the Nation

LIVERMORE – Moments ago, Bay Area Rep. George Miller (D-CA-07)  took to the floor of the House of Representatives to decry the fact that the Miller-Visclosky-Sanchez amendment to restore nuclear safety, which had been offered in a timely manner to the National Defense Authorization Act,  had been prevented by the Rules Committee from being considered. (A link to Rep. George Miller’s press release and his floor statement follow.)

Tri-Valley CAREs responded: “This decision guts nuclear safety. The Miller-Visclosky-Sanchez amendment was absolutely essential to prevent a dangerous rollback of 25 years of safety standards at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons facilities, including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," stated Marylia Kelley, the group’s Executive Director.

Kelley explained, “Today is a sad day for the safety of workers at nuclear weapons facilities and for the American people who live around these sites. Language in the NDAA will weaken the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board’s ability to provide independent oversight at nuclear weapons facilities.  Moreover, the act’s language also limits the role of the Secretary of Energy in setting safety standards. Instead, the contractor ‘foxes’ would be placed in charge of safety at the nuclear ‘henhouses’. Such ill-advised changes take us back to the days of huge accidents, spills and radioactive releases in Livermore and across the country.”

Tri-Valley CAREs’ staff attorney, Scott Yundt, expressed his concern now that the Miller amendment has been disallowed. Yundt facilitates a support group for Livermore Lab and other nuclear workers made ill by on the job exposures.

“The current language in the NDAA will result in more worker exposures and illnesses,” he charged. “Further, an amendment by Mike Turner (R-OH) that was accepted by the Rules Committee, if adopted, will allow the administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is part of the DOE, to lower safety protections for workers and the public by substituting a ‘risk-based’ approach in place of more rigorous and prescriptive standards.”

Yundt concluded, “There have been more than 3,000 claims filed by workers at Livermore Lab, or their widows, for illnesses caused by on the job exposures. I am frequently contacted by Livermore Lab workers and others in the weapons complex who have been exposed to toxic and radioactive materials. If anything, current provisions could be made more rigorous. Weakening them will result in even more sick and dying workers at Livermore Lab and other sites.”

(Click here for George Miller's press release.)

(Click here to watch George Miller's floor statement)

CONTACT:

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

To speak with Rep. George Miller’s office, Aaron Albright, (202) 226-0853

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Watchdogs Praise Bay Area Congressman George Miller for Nuclear Safety Leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2012

Key Defense Authorization Amendment Will Preserve Independent Oversight and Protect Lives at Livermore Lab and other Nuclear Weapons Sites across the Nation

LIVERMORE – Today, Bay Area Rep. George Miller (D-CA-07) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent a dangerous rollback of 25 years of safety standards at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons facilities, including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Tri-Valley CAREs, a Livermore Lab watchdog for nearly 30 years, lauded Miller’s leadership.

“The Miller amendment is critical for worker and community safety,” said Marylia Kelley, a Livermore resident and Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director. “Sweeping changes introduced into the National Defense Authorization Act in committee would overturn the ‘adequate protection standard’ that has governed safety for more than two decades.”

Kelley continued, “Moreover, these changes would weaken the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board’s ability to provide independent oversight at nuclear weapons facilities.  Instead, the contractor ‘foxes’ would be placed in charge of safety at the nuclear ‘henhouse’. Such ill-advised changes take us back to the days of huge accidents, spills and radioactive releases in Livermore and across the country. The Miller amendment would restore current worker and community protections, which is why my group and others consider its introduction today so important and its passage so essential.”

Before introducing his amendment, Congressman Miller said that the committee’s bill, as currently constituted, “…represents a shift to extensive contractor self-regulation, and all but eliminates the government’s role in protecting workers and the public. Such a model is recklessly inappropriate for an industry that uses ultra-hazardous materials and technologies.”

Joining Rep. Miller in introducing the amendment (#167 as assigned by the Rules Committee) are Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN-01) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47). The Rules Committee is scheduled to decide on Wednesday, May 16 which amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act will reach the “floor” for a full House vote, slated to begin as early as Wednesday evening.

Tri-Valley CAREs’ staff attorney, Scott Yundt, expressed hope that the Miller amendment will be adopted. Yundt facilitates a support group for Livermore Lab and other nuclear workers made ill by on the job exposures. “The Miller amendment is absolutely essential,” he said. “There have been more than 3,000 claims filed by workers at Livermore Lab, or their widows, for illnesses caused by on the job exposures.” Yundt continued, “I am frequently contacted by Livermore Lab workers and others in the weapons complex who have been exposed to toxic and radioactive materials. If anything, current provisions could be made more rigorous. Weakening them will result in even more sick and dying workers at Livermore Lab and other sites.” 

CONTACT:

Marylia Kelley, 925-443-7148, marylia@trivalleycares.org

To speak with Rep. George Miller’s office, Aaron Albright, (202) 226-0853

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Formerly Secret Performance Report Reveals Problems with the National Ignition Facility and Security at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 4, 2012

The 2011 Performance Evaluation Report (PER) for Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, the private contractor managing Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, was released yesterday by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in response to a March 28 legal challenge by Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Among other management deficiencies, the Report indicates that Livermore Lab’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) continued to miss milestones and violate accounting practices.

While most of the areas covered by the Report rate performance as excellent, in two cases the Livermore Lab management company was denied full bonus payment based on lesser performance. In the first area, (Program: Performance Objective 4) NIF did not meet all of its promised Fiscal Year 2011 performance milestones (PER pg. 11- 12).  The Report adds that, "the overall number of shots resulting in useful data collection remains below the rate which has previously been communicated to stakeholders as necessary for assuring success of the National Ignition Campaign."

In other words, explained the Livermore-based watchdog group Tri-Valley CAREs Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt “The Performance Evaluation Report shows that NIF is failing to produce the promised results, including actual ignition.”

“The Performance Evaluation Report calls into question the enormous costs of NIF to date, and the value that the American tax payer is getting from this boondoggle,” charged Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs. “With around $7 Billion spent so far, and continued projected costs of nearly $500 million per year for the foreseeable future, it is high time Congress take a hard look at this fiscally irresponsible program and put on the brakes.”

The Report also noted that the accounting for the NIF is an area of concern because of "the Contactor's decision not to consistently apply approved forward pricing rates." (PER pg. 19-20) In other words, Livermore Lab’s management company applies increased pricing rates above what was budgeted for and approved by NNSA. This continues a decade of cost accounting practices at the NIF that have violated the law by allowing the facility to shift its overhead costs to other programs at the Laboratory.

“The Report indentifies Livermore Lab’s management company’s continued favoring of the NIF program over all others at the lab, in violation of cost accounting practices. These violations and huge cost overruns have amounted to a direct lie to congressional appropriators who approve a budget for the NIF,” noted Yundt.

Security also continues to be a concern at LLNL, with the Report noting that in June of 2011, 1,659 rounds of armor piercing ammunition were discovered. An incident analysis was conducted that concluded that Livermore Lab’s management company "needs more formality in the governance of its security operations." (PER pg. 18)

While the Performance Evaluation Report is shaded by the simple fact that the Livermore Lab’s management company is involved in reviewing its own operation, it does illuminate areas of concern. Despite this, Livermore Lab’s management company was awarded over $26 million dollars in bonuses for its overall performance. (88% of the total available bonus). (PER pg. 2)

“Prior to yesterday, the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration had sought to keep this information about management failures and high bonus awards from public view,” Kelly noted. “We are grateful to our colleagues at Nuclear Watch New Mexico for their lawsuit pushing for the release of this information. The ratings and bonuses awarded should be a matter of public record.”

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A Copy of the Performance Evaluation Report for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is available here. (PDF)

The Performance Evaluation Reports are available at www.nukewatch.org

The Reports for the Sandia Lab and the Pantex Plant are still undergoing review by NNSA and have not yet been released. Nuclear Watch of New Mexico will post them as soon as they are available.
 
The eight NNSA nuclear weapons sites are the Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico: the Sandia National Laboratories in NM and CA; the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in CA; the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site); and the four production plants: the Kansas City Plant for nonnuclear components; the Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC for the radioactive gas tritium used to “boost” nuclear weapons; the Y-12 Plant near Oak Ridge, TN, for nuclear weapons secondaries (which put the “H” in H-bomb); and the Pantex Plant for final nuclear weapons assembly near Amarillo, TX.

CONTACT:

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, 925-443-7148

Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, (505) 989-7342

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Livermore Nuclear Watchdogs Head to Washington, D.C. to Challenge Nuclear Weapons Projects That Put The Environment and Taxpayer Dollars At Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 15, 2012

Group Will Distribute a Major New Report Proposing Cuts to Weapons Budget

Livermore- Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) will send a delegation to Washington, DC from March 17 through 21 to expose U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) “Nuclear Budget Busters.”  These seven nuclear weapons and nuclear energy projects, including the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will waste billions in taxpayer funds, damage the environment and undermine the nation’s non-proliferation goals.

In approximately 80 meetings, the Tri-Valley CAREs delegation will be working with colleagues from a dozen other states who are participating in the 24th annual Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) "DC Days." The activists expect to meet with Senators and Representatives from California, leaders of congressional committees that oversee nuclear issues, and key federal agency staffers.

ANA is a 25-year old network of several dozen local, regional and national organizations, including Tri-Valley CAREs, who represent the concerns of communities downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear weapons complex and radioactive waste disposal sites.
Tri-Valley CAREs, the Livermore-based nuclear weapons “watchdog” organization, will bring its detailed knowledge of Livermore Lab, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) weapons activities to share with decision-makers.

Additionally, Dr. Robert Civiak, former Program Examiner for DOE nuclear security activities at the White House Office of Management and Budget, has prepared a detailed report for the group entitled, “Fewer Warheads, More Spending: An Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities.” The report debunks the myths put forth by NNSA to justify the rise in recent and projected spending on our nuclear weapons program and identifies $1.540 billion in potential savings in the NNSA Fiscal Year 2013 nuclear weapons budget. The Tri-Valley CAREs delegation will bring this hot-off-the-press report to DC and advocate for its recommended cuts to members of Congress.

The group’s Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt, noted, “I am looking forward to presenting our group’s new report challenging the NNSA’s rhetoric about why Congress should authorize billions for new nuclear weapons and enormous new weapons complex facilities to produce them. We will use the report to recommend a series of specific cuts to unneeded facilities and ill-advised changes to the stockpile. Overall, we will recommend huge potential savings, including an $84 million in savings at the nearby National Ignition Facility at Livermore Lab.”

Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director, Marylia Kelley, added, “DOE is pursuing many unnecessary projects that will waste taxpayer dollars and fuel proliferation, while also putting the environment and human health of the communities surrounding DOE facilities, like Livermore, at risk. We will point out these concerns and encourage policy-makers to cut programs that fund dangerous new weapons and subsidize nuclear reactor construction. Then, we will urge Congress to use the savings to reduce long-term liabilities by cleaning up the huge toxic and radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons research, design, testing and production.”

Tri-Valley CAREs is a 29-year old group made up of local citizens who monitor activities at Livermore Lab (one of two nuclear warhead design labs in the U.S.) and the nuclear weapons complex. Tri-Valley CAREs’ 2012 DC Days delegation includes longtime Livermore resident and Executive Director, Marylia Kelley, legal intern, Toshimi Barks, and Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt.

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• a briefing kit including ANA’s “Nuclear Budget Busters” report is available on request

• Tri-Valley CAREs’ latest report, “Fewer Warheads, More Spending: An Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities” is also available on our website www.trivalleycares.org. (PDF)

CONTACT:

Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148 (office)

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148 (office)




Nuclear Weapons Budget: Tri-Valley CAREs reacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 13, 2012

TRI-VALLEY CARES RESPONDS TO THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2013 BUDGET REQUEST FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS

See below for 7 key items, including 3 that are specific to Livermore Lab...

1. THE TOP LINE for Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration Nuclear Weapons Activities:

The President's budget requests $7.577 Billion for nuclear weapons activities, compared with last year's appropriated level of $7.214 billion, an increase of more than $363 million.

Said Tri-Valley CAREs executive Director, Marylia Kelley, "We find this number excessive and encourage Congress to sharpen its budget ax as the budget request wends its way through the FY13 appropriations process."

2. THE KUDOS: CMRR-NF to Zero

Said Marylia Kelley, "We note with approval that the Obama Administration budget request for Department of Energy nuclear weapons activities zeroes out the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), slated for construction at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico.
This facility, intended to enable a four-fold increase in the U.S. production of new plutonium bomb cores, was never needed for maintenance of existing weapons in the U.S. arsenal, and we are glad that Obama's latest budget request reflects that reality. Moreover, the budget request notes that CMRR-NF will be delayed at least 5 years (with no exact date for resumption given). We believe it can and should be canceled outright."

3. NOW THE BAD: UPF more than doubles; from $160 million appropriated for 2012 to $340 million requested for 2013.

"However," Kelley continued, "We oppose the accelerated funding and construction schedule for the Uranium Processing Facility contained in this budget request. Tri-Valley CAREs supports a smaller facility focused on dismantlement of retired secondaries and downblending of highly enriched uranium rather than the currently-missioned UPF, which is focused on increasing U.S. production of nuclear weapons secondaries at a rate of up to 80 each year."

4. THE BAD CONTINUES.

For warhead Life Extensions Programs (LEPs), the budget request is $543 million (an increase of 13% over last year's appropriated level), with the B61-12 requesting a whopping 66% more.

Marylia Kelley said, "Life Extension is a misnomer for a nearly complete rebuild and upgrade to each of DOE's seven nuclear warhead systems. The need for these rebuilds is doubtful considering that these systems are nowhere near the end of their life and the costs continue to skyrocket. In a typical LEP, NNSA makes hundreds of changes to the weapons, adding new components and modifying their military characteristics. The most expensive LEP so far is for the B61-12 family of bombs, for which the NNSA has requested $369 million for FY2013 (an increase of 66% over last year's appropriated level) is especially unnecessary given that the European-based B61s may all be retired before or soon after the LEP is completed.

5. AND, THE WASTEFUL: ICF/NIF holds steady with the request at $460 million for 2013, down a miniscule 3% from the appropriated level.

Kelley stated, "Within the DOE's stockpile stewardship program, one of the biggest boondoggles is the inertial confinement fusion program, intended to produce thermonuclear ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore Lab. Ignition was first promised in 2003, then fiscal year 2010 and now fiscal year 2012. Although it is widely acknowledged within the government and the scientific community that ignition at NIF is highly unlikely to occur in 2012, the fiscal year 2013 budget request continues to throw good money after bad at the effort by dedicating $460 million next year to this failed effort."

6. LIVERMORE CLEANUP: The monies for the Superfund cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at Livermore Lab hold steady in the budget request at about $23 million.

Said Kelley, "We note that the Livermore Lab main site and site 300 receive about the same amount of funding in the FY2013 request as has been appropriated in years past. We do see, and applaud, a small increase in the funding that DOE's Environmental Management program is contributing. The funds that come directly from NNSA for cleanup do not appear to be going up, thus keeping the overall cleanup budget at "steady," but barely so. We call on DOE to reprogram monies being wasted elsewhere in the nuclear weapons budget to clean up toxic and radioactive contamination at Livermore Lab. And, we call on Congress to shift monies to this task in FY2013."

7. LIVERMORE'S BIG QUESTION MARK.

Save $52 million? The budget request notes that the Livermore Lab plutonium facility will go from Category 1 to Category 3 (housing less than nuclear bomb usable quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium). Is a celebration in order?

Kelley explained, "The budget request states that the Livermore Lab plutonium facility, which has proven vulnerable to attack in mock terrorism drills, will drop from Category 1 to Category 3 in fiscal year 2013, enabling a drop in the request for nuclear security monies of $52 million, or 7.5% complex-wide. The budget request also notes that Livermore Lab has repackaged 91% of the plutonium and highly enriched uranium slated to be de-inventoried, with 84% of it shipped to more secure locations. This is cause for celebration.

"However, the budget request also states that 'in place of the CMRR-Nuclear Facility NNSA has options to share workload between other plutonium-capable facilities at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.' This statement mirrors what sources inside the DOE and other government agencies have told Tri-Valley CAREs. These sources say that the Livermore Lab plutonium facility may receive Category 1 & 2 nuclear bomb usable quantities of plutonium in the form of bomb cores from Los Alamos Lab. We call on DOE to clarify the potential use of the Livermore Lab plutonium facility for continued plutonium bomb activities, and call on Congress to enact language that would specifically prohibit Los Alamos Lab, or any other site, from sending Category 1 & 2 quantities of plutonium to Livermore Lab."

CONTACT:

For more information, contact Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs' executive director, at (925) 443-7148 or marylia@trivalleycares.org. Or, call or email Tri-Valley CAREs' staff attorney, Scott Yundt at scott@trivalleycares.org.

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Questions for the U.S. Department of Energy's FY 2013 Nuclear Weapons and Cleanup Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 10, 2012

The overriding issue for the Monday, Feb. 13 budget release is: "Will the Obama Administration continue to increase funding for unnecessary nuclear programs in light of current fiscal constraints?"

The Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs noted that "We do expect the budget request will reveal modest progress toward reducing profligate spending on nuclear weapons. The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement - Nuclear Facility, intended to increase U.S. capacity to produce plutonium bomb cores four-fold, is rumored to take a major budget hit in the FY13 request, coupled with a decade-long delay in construction." The group also noted, however, that "other ill-conceived nuclear weapons projects are rumored to move 'full steam ahead.'"

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network of communities downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear facilities, is likewise concerned that out of control spending on nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities will divert resources from legally required environmental cleanup, sustainable energy programs, and critical nonproliferation efforts.

HERE ARE SOME KEY QUESTIONS THAT THE DOE BUDGET SHOULD ADDRESS:

QUESTION: At a time when nuclear stockpiles are being cut, why does the U.S. need expanded production capacity for plutonium pits (the fissile cores or "triggers" of nuclear weapons) and highly enriched uranium (secondaries)?

The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility would directly support production of plutonium pits, yet the JASONs determined that plutonium pits have a shelf life of 85+ years. If the rumored delay for CMRR-NF is reflected in the FY13 budget request, do the budget expenditures accompanying that delay make sense or are they excessive? Will there be a move to "reopen" the Livermore Lab plutonium facility to weapons usable quantities of fissile material despite its security vulnerabilities? Moreover, the Uranium Processing Facility as planned is oversized and should be redesigned to dismantle warheads and down-blend uranium.

QUESTION: Will funding for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) remain around $400 million even if it fails to achieve ignition in FY12?

What can the administration do to salvage what science they can from the taxpayers' cumulative $7 billion investment in NIF? Will the DOE consider removing the NIF from National Nuclear Security Administration control in favor of housing it in the Office of Science, with a more modest operating budget? Will Congress consider this or other options?

QUESTION: Are Stockpile Stewardship programs funding new capabilities for nuclear weapons?

If the DOE has decided to stay with a tested pit design, then why has the overall cost of the B-61 program increased? Is the DOE still considering a dramatically overhauled design for the W78 that would include interoperability between submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles?

QUESTION: Will the largest share of nonproliferation funding continue to be spent on the Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program?

With huge cost increases, schedule delays, unanswered technical questions, and a lack of customers willing to use MOX, will this program ever be viable? Why are other nonproliferation programs that effectively safeguard highly enriched uranium and prevent fissile materials smuggling facing cuts?

QUESTION: What are the consequences of failing to fund legally mandated nuclear cleanup projects?

Is DOE inviting lawsuits brought by states and citizens left stranded by chronic federal underfunding of cleanup projects mandated by previous legal decisions? Won't delays lead to more contamination, higher costs, and increased health and environmental problems? Won't new weapons production and the MOX program create new waste streams while Cold War nuclear waste still threatens the environment and human health?

DOE's budget request: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/crorg/cf30.htm

CONTACT:

For further information: Tri-Valley CAREs: Marylia Kelley (925) 443-7148
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability: Katherine Fuchs (202) 544-0217

For information about specific DOE nuclear weapons sites and programs, here are some additional contacts:

Tom Carpenter - Hanford and Waste Treatment Plant: (206) 722-4269;
tomc@hanfordchallenge.org

Tom Clements - Savannah River Site, MOX Plant, Reprocessing: (803) 240-7268;
tomclements329@cs.com

Jay Coghlan - Los Alamos Lab and Life Extension Programs: (505) 989-7342;
jay@nukewatch.org

Don Hancock - Environmental Management Cleanup Program: (505) 262-1862;
sricdon@earthlink.net

Ralph Hutchison - Oak Ridge Site and Dismantlement: (865) 776-5050;
orep@earthlink.net

Scott Yundt - Livermore Lab, NIF and cleanup: (925)-443-7148;
scott@trivalleycares.org

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Livermore Group Decries 9th Circuit's Decision on Bio-Warfare Research, Vows to Move Forward in the Public Arena to "Protect Health and the Environment"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 7, 2012

On February 7, 2012 the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision denying Tri-Valley CAREs' challenge to a novel, advanced bio-warfare agent research facility, located in the Bay Area at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Tri-Valley CAREs appealed a lower court decision in 2010 in its litigation, which commenced in 2008 under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The group's lawsuit requested that the District Court compel the DOE to produce a thoroughgoing review of the potential environmental impacts of a terrorist attack on the bio-warfare agent research facility, as had been ordered in 2006 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the group's prior lawsuit against the facility. The group also sought a public hearing on the bio-warfare research conducted there.

The DOE gave LLNL the go-ahead to genetically modify and aerosolize (spray) lethal pathogens, such as live anthrax, plague and botulism at the controversial bio-facility that was the subject of the litigation. The advanced bio-warfare agent research facility has a bio-safety level 3 designation (BSL-3) and is authorized to store and use up to 50 liters of deadly pathogens. Seven million residents live within a 50 mile-radius.

Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney at Tri-Valley CAREs, said, “I am surprised and disappointed that the 9th Circuit Panel did not rule in Tri-Valley CAREs' favor in this instance. In my judgment the DOE has not fully complied with the Ninth Circuit’s 2006 request or NEPA.”

“The big losers today are (1) public health and (2) public participation in government decision making,” said named plaintiff and Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director, Marylia Kelley, “If we had prevailed and an environmental impact statement had been mandated, that would have meant  a full public hearing on the bio-warfare research. Instead, this dangerous research will go forward with no formal mechanism for the public’s voice to be heard. The Court, in effect, silenced the community today.” Kelley continued, “Moreover, we have a moral responsibility as well as a legal one to act to protect worker and community health. Our members are threatened by a release of deadly pathogens. That does not change with the Court’s decision. Therefore, we will continue to vocally challenge the operation of this dangerous facility and the DOE’s planned expansion of its biological weapons agent research. We at Tri-Valley CAREs believe that in depth public scrutiny of this program is key to ensuring its safety.”

Tri-Valley CAREs filed its initial lawsuit against the LLNL bio-warfare agent research facility in 2003 to challenge the DOE's shoddy analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to adequately consider the environmental impacts of major projects before taking further action. The same District Court judge that issued the October 8, 2010 decision had previously also denied all of Tri-Valley CAREs' claims in the 2003 suit.

However, Tri-Valley CAREs appealed that judge's earlier decision and prevailed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when the 3-member appellate panel ruled in our favor in 2006, stating that the DOE's environmental review inadequately analyzed the threat of terrorism at the facility and the potential impacts associated with a terrorist attack. In a precedent setting ruling, the Ninth Circuit ordered the DOE to revise its prior inadequate review to analyze the threat of a terrorist act at the bio-facility. The Ninth Circuit also specified that DOE should consider whether the potential imacts of a terrorist attack necessitated the preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement and public hearings. 

In response to Ninth Circuit's order, DOE issued a “Final Revised Environmental Assessment (FREA).” The FREA, like its predecessor docment struck down by the appelate court, again concluded that there would not be a significant impact to the environment in the event of a terrorist attack and that a full Environmental Impact Statement and public hearings were not necessary.

The DOE's FREA alluded to, but failed to explain, the details of a Livermore Lab anthrax shipping accident that resulted from a security breach at LLNL when an unauthorized former employee gained access to, and then, unsupervised, improperly package over 6,400 anthrax samples that were then shipped across the country. In this incident, five workers were exposed and had to be put on the antibiotic "Cipro" because anthrax had spilled inside the packaging.

The details of this incident were withheld from the public until after the FREA had become final, thereby denying the public any opportunity to comment on its relevance to LLNL operating an even more potentially lethal BSL-3.  It was at this point in 2008 that the DOE gave LLNL the go-ahead to operate the new bio-warfare agent research facility, and Tri-Valley CAREs filed its second lawsuit in the District Court asking the judge to uphold the higher, appellate court's 2006 decision.

Despite the anthrax incident and others, the District Court again concluded that the DOE need not undertake additional analysis to meet the standards of NEPA. Tri-Valley CAREs appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit in 2010. Following oral argument in January, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision today affirming the District Court’s conclusions.

Yundt concluded, "I respectfully disagree with today’s Court of Appeal’s decision. In my view, the cursory review done by DOE here does not meet the 'hard look' standard required by NEPA and thus the potential environmental impacts of a terrorist attack on the bio-warfare research facility continues to go unstudied. Yet, the community will not back down against bringing the dangers of this research into the light and Tri-Valley CAREs will continue to watchdog the continued operation and future expansion of this program to protect public health and the environment as much as possible."

CONTACT:

Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs. (925) 443-7148

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

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Blue Ribbon Nuclear Waste Commission Fails to Chart Safe, Publicly Acceptable Nuclear Waste Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 26, 2012

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future report released today received mixed reviews from groups that monitor sites where large quantities of radioactive waste are stored. The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) and the Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs, said major flaws in the report include the Commission’s failure to advocate prompt removal of commercial spent fuel from reactor cooling pools with placement in hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) to safeguard commercial spent fuel at nuclear power plants.  ANA and hundreds of community   groups had told the Commission that HOSS could protect the heavily reactive material for the decades needed to develop a scientifically sound and publicly acceptable waste disposal program.

“The Commission’s decision to support consolidated interim storage at the expense of HOSS continues decades of policy failure in this area,” explained ANA Director Susan Gordon. “The reality, which the Commission recognizes and the nuclear industry is pursuing, is that reactor sites must store their spent fuel for decades. Instead of pursuing centralized facilities, on-site storage should be improved to protect public health and the environment. Centralized storage would leave thousands of tons of waste at operating power plants. It would also create even more storage sites and endanger millions living along transportation routes. At the same time, it would increase the risk that consolidated fuel will be reprocessed.”

“While there are no magic ‘silver bullets’ for nuclear waste, the Commission is ignoring the obvious, superior solution,” added Marylia Kelley, Executive Director or the Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs. “The Commission is simply following in the footsteps of the Department of Energy’s longstanding refusal to fully consider the benefits of Hardened On-Site Storage. HOSS would ensure that wastes are monitored and protected from aircraft crashes, terrorist attacks and other potential calamities. HOSS would secure wastes near sites where it was produced, thereby avoiding unnecessary transport.”

ANA ProgramDirector Katherine Fuchs continued, “Just as power plants must safely store their spent fuel, Department of Energy facilities must safely store high-level waste. The recommendation to send those dangerous materials to a non-existent disposal    site ignores the fact that those wastes are not ready for transportation. Funds should be spent to solidify those wastes and provide robust storage."

“We are disappointed in some Commission recommendations. We are not surprised, however, since none of the commissioners represent communities downstream or downwind of major nuclear weapons sites or nuclear power plants. No one on the commission has even worked with such groups, as we have pointed out since the Commission was formed,” said Don Hancock, Director of Southwest Research and Information Center’s Nuclear Waste Safety Program.

ANA and its member groups do support the Commission’s recommendation not to pursue commercial waste reprocessing. “The Commission understands that reprocessing is prohibitively expensive, creates new waste streams, and poses a nuclear proliferation risk,” said ANA Nonproliferation Policy Director Tom Clements. “In these austere times, the government shouldn't even invest in reprocessing research. Instead it must focus on safer    and more secure storage of spent fuel at existing waste storage facilities.”

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) is a 25 year old national network of three-dozen grassroots and national groups representing the concerns of communities near U.S. nuclear weapons sites that are directly affected by 65 years of nuclear weapons production and waste generation. 

CONTACT:

Bob Schaeffer, Public Policy Communications, 239-395-6773

Katherine Fuchs, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, 202-544-0217, ext. 2503

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, 925-443-714

Additional Local Contacts:

Susan Gordon, ANA Director (NM): 505-577-8438

Tom Clements, ANA Nonproliferation Policy Director (SC): 803-240-7268

Don Hancock, Southwest Research and Information Center Nuclear Waste Safety Program Director, (NM): 505-262-1862

Beatrice Brailsford, Snake River Alliance Program Director (ID): 208-233-7212

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Livermore Lab Watchdog Group Challenges Bio-Warfare Agent Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 11, 2012

Charges Failure to Analyze Potential Terrorist Attack, Requests Court Suspend Dangerous Operations

Who: Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

What: Hearing of Oral Arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

When: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 9:30 A.M.

Where: James R. Browning US Courthouse - 9th Circuit;

95 Seventh Street; San Francisco, CA

Why: The Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court challenging the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) continued operation of a controversial bio-warfare agent facility at Livermore Lab without proper environmental review.

The bio-warfare agent research facility, a Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3), houses dangerous experiments with live anthrax, plague, Q fever and dozens of other potentially lethal pathogens. Some of these bio-agents will be aerosolized for use on small animals (up to 100 at a time) to ascertain how effective the agents would be in killing humans.

Further, the Livermore Lab BSL-3 is authorized to conduct experiments with genetically modified bio-agents of potentially novel (and unknown) virulence.

Tri-Valley CAREs has been litigating to halt operations and obtain appropriate environmental review of the facility since 2003.

Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt will present the group's oral argument to the Ninth Circuit Court. He explains, "We are challenging this BSL-3 because the DOE failed to adequately analyze the catastrophic consequences it could have on Lab workers and the surrounding communities."

Yundt continued, "In Tri-Valley CAREs' initial lawsuit against the facility, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered DOE to go back to the drawing board to consider the impacts of a terrorist attack on human and environmental health, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. As I will explain in oral argument to the Court, the DOE did not comply with the Court's prior Order - or the law."

Tri-Valley CAREs, in its written briefs and upcoming oral argument, is asking the Ninth Circuit Court to compel DOE to undertake an in-depth analysis in a full Environmental Impact Statement with public hearings.

The group will also request that the Ninth Circuit Court suspend operation of the BSL-3 until such time as it can demonstrate compliance with the law.

CONTACT:

Tri-Valley CAREs’ staff attorney, Scott Yundt, at 415-990-2070 (cell) or mail to: scott@trivalleycares.org

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