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Citizens Watch Newsletter August - September 2005

Seeds of Change: August Actions Transform Livermore Lab

by Tara Dorabji
from Tri-Valley CAREs' August/September 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

"The atomic bomb was not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but on humanity. Now, we must all live under the threat of annihilation." - Dr. Satoru Konishi, an atomic bomb survivor, speaking to the crowd in Livermore, August 9, 2005.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thousands rallied at active Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons sites across the country to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The largest rallies were held at Livermore Lab here in California, the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico, the Nevada Test Site, and the Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee.

At Livermore Lab, two events were held. A major rally and march took place on August 6, the date the first atomic bomb was dropped in war - on the people of Hiroshima, Japan. Then, on August 9, to commemorate the atomic bombing three days later of Nagasaki, a nonviolent direct action occurred with folks peacefully risking arrest in the gates of Livermore Lab.

On August 6, about 1,000 people gathered in Livermore to participate in a peace program, march to the nuclear weapons lab and plant actual and symbolic "seeds of change" along the fence line and at the gates. The central demand from the crowd was "No Nukes! No Wars!" Livermore Lab is one of two locations that has designed every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal, the other is the Los Alamos Lab.

"Your presence here at Livermore Lab on the solemn 60th anniversary of the devastating U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima makes a positive difference," said Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs, addressing the rally. "More people will learn that the U.S. is planning a horrific new earth-penetrating bomb because you and your neighbors are here on this anniversary." The August 6 rally, titled "Seeds of Change," was sponsored by nearly 100 peace, environmental and religious groups, including Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore Conversion Project, Western States Legal Foundation, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, People's Weekly World, American Friends Service Committee, Peace and Freedom Party, Global Exchange, Watsonville Brown Berets, and California Peace Action.

The rally included a potluck. As the program got underway, everyone shared food and enjoyed a picnic and gallons of ice cold lemonade. There was also a children's peace playground where kids made sunflower masks, origami, and painted a 25 foot-long banner that proclaimed, "kids want to grow up, not blow up."

The rally program featured performances that spanned the musical satire of Dave Lippman, Middle Eastern singing and dancing by Fariba, and hip hop by Dangerous Minds. The event was inter-generational, and the voices of the young were featured on stage. Free Radio Livermore broadcast the event to the Livermore community, while KPFA provided coverage to the broader Bay Area. There were many amazing rally speakers and lots of peace booths full of good information. The Livermore heat was a teeny bit intense at times, but, as the march got underway, a welcoming cool breeze greeted the crowd.

The march concluded at the West Gate of Livermore Lab, where street theater was preformed, a musical trio played classical selections, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship led a meditation, and people wrote their hopes for a more peaceful future on prayer cards. All of the prayer cards were deposited in a scarf that was buried in a hole dug in front of the huge Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory sign.

In addition, many participants brought beautiful hand-crafted paper sunflowers, real sunflowers and sunflower seeds, all of which were planted near the Livermore Lab's West Gate. Additional sunflowers, hand-made signs and peace cranes were woven through the fence along the Lab's western boundary. Livermore Lab was, for that moment, transformed literally and symbolically. Moreover, the participants' prayer cards will stay buried in the earth, to sprout in future, unknowable ways as "seeds of change." On August 9, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, more than one hundred people again gathered in Livermore. The focus on this day was a nonviolent direct action, which culminated with many risking arrest by standing, kneeling or sitting in the gates of Livermore Lab.

The day began with Dr. Satoru Konishi, an atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima, offering his testimony before the crowd, gathered in a park near the Lab. Many were brought to tears by his powerful and inspirational words. Clan Dyken, an activist band, brought the group together in a circle around the medicine drum and led a spiral dance.

A short march to Livermore Lab then concluded, as it had on August 6, at the West Gate. This time, however, the group was met by rows of police, who fanned out and surrounded the peacemakers who approached the gate.

As the arrests occurred, Dr. Konishi spoke again, this time to the police and nearby Lab employees. He stood inches away from the officers, who were in full riot gear, and offered a compelling case for the immorality of nuclear weapons and the need for global nuclear disarmament.

"Nuclear weapons must be abolished," concluded Dr. Konishi. "The U.S. must apologize [to the Japanese people] and give up their nuclear weapons as proof of sincerity." Fifty-four people were arrested.

New Direction Proposed for Los Alamos

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' August/September 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

This July, two non-profits well-known as advocates for Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) worker health and safety, the environment and non-proliferation formally submitted a jointly-prepared bid to manage the New Mexico nuclear weapons lab by moving it in a dramatic new direction, toward cleanup and civilian science missions.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Tri-Valley CAREs submitted their management proposal to the Department of Energy (DOE) office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Two other parties also submitted bids.

One of the bidders, LANL's existing manager, the University of California (UC), has partnered with Bechtel, one of the world's largest construction corporations. That team has named Michael Anatasio, current Director of the Livermore Lab (also managed by UC), as its designated director of Los Alamos.

The other bidder is Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, which has partnered with the University of Texas. That team has named Paul Robinson, ex-head of the DOE's Sandia Lab, as its LANL Director. Lockheed Martin already manages Sandia. Both Robinson and Anatasio have risen through the ranks of the nuclear weapons programs at DOE labs, effectively offering no real alternative to LANL's future missions.

Only one of the three teams bidding for the contract made its proposal public. Guess which one? Our bid is available at and Our proposal would radically revamp the LANL management structure -- which would, in turn, lead the Lab in a whole new direction.

Starting at the top, we propose to keep an overall Lab Directorship. Attached to the Director's Office we would add a Chief Officer for Whistleblower Protection. Currently eight Associate Directorships serve under the Director. We would transform Threat Reduction into Nuclear Nonproliferation, responsible for encouraging and verifying compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty at home and abroad. Under that new Associate Directorship we would subordinate Nuclear Weapons Programs, Weapons Physics, and Weapons Remanufacturing. This aligns with our proposed program of maintaining (but not advancing) nuclear weapons while they await dismantlement. We would also create a new Associate Directorship for Dismantlement.

We propose to elevate both Environmental Restoration and Science to new Associate Directorships. The former would expedite comprehensive cleanup at LANL. The latter would help attract "great science" to the Lab, with emphases on sustainable energy independence and addressing global climate change.

According to Tara Dorabji, Tri-Valley CAREs' Outreach Director, "Our proposal protects and values whistleblowers, and we challenge our competitors to do the same. Our proposal boosts civilian science at LANL, and we call on our competitors to demonstrate how they, if chosen, would attract world-class science and scientists. Further, our bid emphasizes community participation and cleanup of the Cold War legacy of radioactive and toxic pollution at LANL. We fear that both our competitors will propose 'business as usual,' and we submit our bid to assert that LANL workers and the public deserve better."

Apparently, DOE believes that LANL employees and surrounding communities should accept more of the same. Less than two months after receiving our bid, the only alternative proposal on the table, DOE informed us by letter that our bid was deemed incomplete and would not be considered further. "I'm shocked, simply shocked," said Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Director, Jay Coghlan, tongue firmly in cheek. A bit more seriously, he added, "We had the bid that was in the best interest of the country."

Groups' Report to Congress: "Chop the Radioactive Pork"

by Marylia Kelley and Bob Schaeffer
from Tri-Valley Cares' August/September 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

As U.S. House and Senate negotiators begin working out details of the nation's nuclear weapons and nuclear energy spending plan for the coming year, a network of nuclear watchdogs, including Tri-Valley CAREs, issued a report recommending ten dangerous, polluting programs for the chopping block.

A copy of the report, "Top Ten Department of Energy Radioactive Pork Projects in the 2006 Budget" was delivered to every Member of Congress by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. It is available on the web, linked from and

"This report identifies seven nuclear weapons and three nuclear energy projects that waste taxpayers' money and escalate, not ameliorate, the nuclear dangers we face," explained Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and author of the pork report's chapter on the National Ignition Facility, which is one of the top ten recommended cuts.

If the conference committee heeds the recommendations in the pork report, it would save the American taxpayers nearly $2 billion next year and many billions in the years to come.

Significant differences exist between the House and Senate nuclear spending plans. The House struck all funding for research into a new nuclear bunker buster slated to be developed at Livermore Lab and a plutonium bomb plant while also reducing appropriations for new plutonium fuel manufacturing. The Senate cut money for the National Ignition Facility, a controversial weapons research facility, and a radioactive waste dump.

Because the House and Senate budget numbers don't match, the nuclear weapons budget will be decided by members of the House-Senate conference committee, which will most likely meet sometime in September.

The Dept. of Energy "radioactive pork" proposals targeted for elimination, and their projected costs in the coming federal budget year, include:

  • Life Extension Program ($348 million), which seeks to extend indefinitely the lifetimes of weapons in the existing Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal and to improve their military capabilities.

  • Reliable Replacement Warhead Program ($9.4 million), which duplicates work performed under the Stockpile Stewardship Program and involves the development of new nuclear weapons.

  • Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator ($8.5 million), which will be ineffective for many military targets, cause substantial radioactive fallout, and undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals.

  • National Ignition Facility ($142 million), the multi-billion dollar Livermore Lab weapons design project, which has been plagued by cost overruns and technical problems and now proposes to use plutonium in addition to fusion fuel.

  • Modern Pit Facility ($7.7 million), an unnecessary new, multi-billion dollar factory to manufacture plutonium triggers, an activity that has produced massive contamination in the past.

  • Enhanced Nuclear Testing Readiness ($25 million), a provocative plan to prepare the Nevada Test Site to resume full-scale underground nuclear explosions on 18 months notice.

  • Tritium Production ($87.5 million), to produce additional quantities of the radioactive gas used to boost weapons' yields even though the current inventory is sufficient for more than a decade.

  • Plutonium Fuel Fabrication ($338 million), designed to manufacture nuclear reactor fuel from plutonium, ignoring implications for the environment, health, proliferation and homeland security.

  • Yucca Mountain ($651 million), the much-delayed radioactive waste dump for which the Environmental Protection Agency just issued controversial health protection standards.

  • Nuclear Energy Revival ($191 million), subsidies underwriting expansion of the nuclear power industry, transportation of its radioactive wastes, and extraction of plutonium from used fuel rods.

The watchdog groups' analysis supports cuts made by the House of Representatives in the Life Extension Program, Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, Modern Pit Facility, Testing Readiness, and Plutonium Fuel Fabrication as well as the Senate's elimination of construction money for the National Ignition Facility and cuts in Yucca Mountain funding.

"Tri-Valley CAREs has long advocated the termination of new nuclear weapons development world-wide and has consistently opposed the tools that allow U.S. nuclear weapons designers to continue this deadly pursuit, such as the National Ignition Facility here at Livermore Lab," Kelley told reporters when the report was released.

New plans at NIF include experiments with plutonium, highly enriched uranium and lithium hydride, which will expand its nuclear weapons design capabilities. If NIF construction funding is cut, it will save $142 million now, and about $30 billion over the coming years.

The groups hope the pork report will stimulate discussion on nuclear policy. Further, the report should help conferees understand that the $2 billion could be better used to address the environmental and health legacy of nuclear weapons.

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