Reading Room

Community Forum: Livermore Lab at the Crossroad

A Short Report on the Potentially Illegal Plan to Ship Plutonium Bomb Cores from NM to CA

On January 30, Tri-Valley CAREs hosted a forum in Livermore with environmental, legal and nuclear experts from New Mexico and California to discuss a federal proposal to transport plutonium bomb cores from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area.

The forum attracted about fifty thoughtful, articulate participants. Following the expert presentations, participants formed three planning groups to brainstorm ongoing actions. One group focused on local organizing and outreach to raise awareness of the plutonium proposal, one chose political advocacy to influence decision-makers and the final group chose to focus on needed cleanup of toxic and radioactive pollutants that resulted from previous nuclear weapons activities at Livermore Lab.

To recap: Livermore Lab permanently lost its security authorization to handle, use or store bomb-usable quantities of plutonium, including bomb cores, on September 30, 2012. At that time, Livermore Lab changed from a Category I/II security infrastructure to a lesser Category III security posture, which does not allow nuclear bomb-usable quantities of plutonium on-site. Yet, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), the agency that owns both weapons labs and mandated the de-inventory of plutonium from Livermore Lab, left a suite of bomb core diagnostics in a service bay in Livermore's Bldg. 334.

The DOE now proposes to bring whole plutonium pits from NM to CA to utilize the diagnostics, known as "shake and bake," which consist of a shaker table, thermal unit and drop test. Los Alamos Lab does not currently possess this particular diagnostic suite and Livermore Lab does not possess the security infrastructure to safely handle the plutonium bomb cores, also called "pits".

Click here to see the NBC Bay Area News story that ran the evening of the forum

Click here to read an article in the Tri-Valley Times and other Bay Area newspapers, "At Livermore forum, nuclear watchdog groups oppose lab weapons testing plan"

Click here to listen to a radio show about the community meeting

Click here to read an article from the Environmental News Service about the Forum