Reading Room

Citizens Watch Newsletter December 2006

How Can I Stop a Dangerous,
New "Bombplex"?
Your Chance Comes December 12

By Marylia Kelley
From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Department of Energy (DOE) has a new plan to "transform" (DOE's own word) the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Unfortunately, this transformation is not at all geared toward meeting U.S. disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reducing the nuclear danger worldwide.

Instead, the DOE's latest nuclear brainchild, called "Complex 2030," proposes to build a whole new nuclear weapons manufacturing center and revitalize U.S. nuclear weapons development and production at eight sites around the country, including at Livermore Lab.

The driving force behind this scheme is the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. Under RRW, American weaponeers want to re-design and rebuild essentially every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The DOE envisions a new RRW bomb design coming out of its weapons labs in Livermore (CA) and Los Alamos (NM) every five years, and to build these newly-designed nukes at the rate of 125 per year.

Thus, "Complex 2030" is intended to give DOE the resurgent Cold War-era production capability to fully carry out the RRW program by the year 2030. This means 3 decades of building new nuclear weapons plants, including a new Rocky Flats-style facility to manufacture plutonium bomb cores (called pits).

Peace and environmental advocates have dubbed the plan "Bombplex." Its price tag will exceed $150 billion (and maybe double that). The costs to our non-proliferation goals and global security are even greater. Imagine how this looks to other countries, and how they may respond.

Your Opportunity to Speak

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), our country's most fundamental environmental law, requires the DOE to analyze the impacts of its proposed plan -- and to give the people a chance to be heard. We are at the beginning stage of the NEPA process, which is called "scoping." Simply stated, scoping means you, the public, are being asked through the public hearing process what issues the government should examine. By law, the government must respond to your comments. These scoping hearings are being held (during the holiday season) at nuclear weapons sites across the country. On Tuesday, December 12, there will be hearings in Livermore, where the Livermore Lab main site is located, and in Tracy, where the Lab's Site 300 is situated.

The Livermore hearing will be Dec. 12 at the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue, and will run from 11 AM to 10 PM. We are asking people to come, if possible, at either 11:30 AM or 6:30 PM, in order to gather together and support each other while we speak. However, you may come at any time that is convenient for you. Tri-Valley CAREs will have an information table, and we will be there from start to finish. The Tracy hearing will be Dec. 12 at the Tracy Community Center, 950 East Street, 6 PM to 10 PM. We are asking people to come at 6:30 PM, if possible. Tri-Valley CAREs will also staff an information table at the Tracy meeting.

A Few, Key "Talking Points" to Get You Started

  • The U.S. cannot design and produce new nuclear weapons and effectively insist that other nations forego nuclear capabilities. Tell DOE that "do as I say, not as I do" is not a viable formula for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

  • DOE cites the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the mandate for new nukes and its "Complex 2030" plan to build them. Nowhere is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) considered. Yet, the NPR is a Bush Administration policy paper. It is not a U.S. law. The NPT, on the other hand, is an international treaty signed by the U.S. that, along with the Constitution, is the Supreme Law of the Land. Tell DOE that its plans must be based on the NPT not the NPR.

  • The U.S. should eliminate its nuclear arsenal by the Year 2030, not rebuild it.

  • There is no military or strategic "need" for a new nuclear warhead, let alone bunches of them. The RRW program is "make work" for the weapons labs and will do more harm than good to U.S. national security. Essentially, RRW and "Complex 2030" mean nukes forever. Tell DOE this is unacceptable to you.

  • "Complex 2030" envisions a new plutonium pit production factory. Remind DOE that this is the activity that so polluted Rocky Flats it was shut down by the FBI. Pit production is expensive, environmentally harmful, proliferation provocative and not needed.

  • "Complex 2030" proposes to move plutonium from Livermore Lab twice, first to Los Alamos in New Mexico, and then a second time to the proposed new pit production factory at an as yet unnamed location. Tell DOE that, true, the nuclear materials at Livermore Lab are vulnerable to theft, terrorist attack and/or catastrophic accident. However, they should be moved only for security reasons and stored as safely as possible. Livermore Lab's nuclear materials should not be moved around the country twice, and should NEVER be used in bomb programs again.

  • Before DOE came up with "Complex 2030," the agency had plans to end bomb tests at Livermore Lab's Site 300 with high-explosives and depleted uranium. Now, DOE documents suggest this testing may continue. Tell DOE to halt all such tests at Site 300. Tell DOE also to forego building a bio-warfare agent research facility at Site 300.

See the enclosed flier and our website for more information. We will also have materials at the hearings. We look forward to seeing you there. If you cannot come, email comments to complex2030@nnsa.doe.gov. Say "comment" in the subject line, and ask DOE to send you an acknowledgment of receipt.


Right to Know Litigation Filed

By Loulena Miles and Marylia Kelley
From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs filed a major lawsuit in the federal district court in San Francisco this November. The suit charges the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) with numerous failures to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation's leading open government statute. (Read our press release here.)

The DOE has failed to provide responsive documents as required by law for as long as three years on five separate information requests. The DOE's failure to respond thwarts the community's basic right to know, according to the suit.

"DOE has been thumbing its nose at the law," said Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director, Marylia Kelley. "Moreover, these FOIA requests involve potentially catastrophic releases of plutonium and biological agents from Livermore Lab operations," Kelley explained.

The 5 FOIA requests that are the subject of the litigation involve unclassified information about the feasibility of developing earth-penetrating nuclear weapons, the environmental implications of a terrorist attack or catastrophic accident on Livermore Lab's existing plutonium stockpiles (2 separate requests), the Lab's "10-Year Site Plan," and the Dept. of Homeland Security's bio-warfare agent research plans at Livermore Lab.

"These documents will provide key information about the dangers faced by our community from spills, accidents, releases and potential terrorism," Kelley told reporters. "Keeping this hidden does nothing to protect the public," charged Kelley. Instead, it renders us unable to press for changes to better protect worker and community health and the environment."

The DOE now stands poised to launch "Complex 2030," the agency's blueprint for revitalizing U.S. nuclear weapons design and production capability. The DOE's continued refusal to provide documents that have a direct bearing on future activities at Livermore Lab harms the public discourse, according to the litigation filed by Tri-Valley CAREs.

"The government is proposing a major transformation of nuclear programs as well as housing biological warfare agent facilities at Livermore Lab's main site and Site 300. DOE's refusal to release vital, unclassified information at this time makes it impossible for the public to fully comment on these plans," noted the group's Staff Attorney, Loulena Miles. Stay tuned.


At the Bio-Weapons Conference

By Loulena Miles and Marylia Kelley
From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs, your Livermore-based nuclear "watchdog," sent its Staff Attorney to the UN in Geneva to address the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), the international treaty banning bio-weapons that the U.S. signed in 1972.

As we go to press, Loulena Miles is presenting remarks to the delegates at the BWC's five-year Review Conference.

Her speech will focus on the dangers inherent in recent moves by the U.S. to collocate advanced bio-warfare research within classified nuclear weapons labs, including at the Livermore Lab main site and its Site 300 in Tracy.

Miles will call upon the nuclear weapons states to geographically segregate biological warfare agent research from classified nuclear weapons facilities.

This can be effectively accomplished as a "confidence building measure" to the BWC but action must be taken now, before any such facilities are opened in the U.S., her statement warns.

Miles is bringing documents detailing Livermore Lab's planned expansion into bio-weapon agent research, including attempts to open a Bio-safety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility in Livermore. She will highlight as well Livermore Lab's plan to house one of the world's largest maximum containment (BSL-4) biodefense labs in the world in Tracy. That facility would be one-half million square feet, approximately the size of 5 Wal-Mart stores, and would cost an estimated half a billion dollars to construct.

"U.S. bio-warfare agent research cannot continue to expand without oversight and accountability," noted Miles. "I am going to Geneva to call upon the U.S. and all nuclear weapons states to send the right signal to the rest of the world; specifically that they will be accountable and transparent - as all states should be."

Tri-Valley CAREs is working with a network of non-governmental organizations throughout the country to advocate against the "biodefense building boom" in which the U.S. is funding dozens of new bio-warfare agent research facilities with no overarching needs assessment and little coordinated oversight or safeguards.

(See www.trivalleycares.org for our press release and Loulena Miles' statement to the BWC.)


Action Alert: Oppose a Lethal Bio-Facility at Site 300

By Marylia Kelley
From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

As you know from reading previous editions of Citizen's Watch, the University of California, which manages the Livermore Lab for the U.S. Dept. of Energy, has applied to the Dept. of Homeland Security for money to construct and operate a massive (half-million square foot) bio-warfare agent research facility at Livermore Lab's Site 300, located in Tracy.

Now, you have three ways to oppose this insane idea.

1. First, Tri-Valley CAREs is circulating a petition, which you can download and sign at www.trivalleycares.org. We have collected about 1,200 signatures to date, and, while this is a fabulous start, we need more.

2. Second, our friends at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation are sponsoring an electronic letter to Michael Chertoff at Homeland Security to oppose the facility. You can access and sign the letter directly at http://capwiz.com/wagingpeace/issues/alert/?alertid=9144536&type=ML. Or, access it through a link on www.trivalleycares.org. There have already been nearly 1,800 electronic letters sent. Please add yours!

3. And, finally, if you are a Working Assets phone service subscriber living in California, please look for your opportunity to send a message to Homeland Security on your November billing statement.

Take one action -- or take all three. Call us to volunteer in the campaign.


Stop Plutonium with Tri-Valley CAREs

By Marylia Kelley
From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

First, a heartfelt "thanks" to all of our friends and supporters who have signed or circulated our petition to stop plutonium at Livermore Lab. With your help, we have reached 9,000 signatures. And, we are closing in on our goal of 10,000. This is quite an accomplishment!

Here are 3 ways you can help put Tri-Valley CAREs' stop plutonium petition drive "over the top."

1. Please go to our website at www.trivalleycares.org. Scroll down to our special report, "Livermore at the Crossroads," and our plutonium petition. Download a copy, sign it, ask your friends and family to sign it with you - and pop it in the mail to us. Or, fax the signatures to us at (925) 443-0177.

2. Or, while you are on our website at www.trivalleycares.org, click into Working Assets' electronic version of our plutonium petition and sign it on line.

3. Call Mary at the Tri-Valley CAREs office, (925) 443-7148, and volunteer to gather signatures with her for a couple of hours this month. We often petition at Livermore supermarkets and in neighborhoods. Can you help for an hour or two?

We are using the petitions in meetings with local and national officials. We will be taking them all to Washington, DC when we reach 10,000.

NOTE: We recently launched a second petition drive to prevent a huge bio-warfare agent research facility at Livermore Lab's Site 300 in Tracy, and we would welcome your help on that campaign, too. See the article above for details.

Petitioning is an effective and time-honored way to make your voice heard. We appreciate your help.


Volunteer and Friends Recognition Party

From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

You are Invited
to
the Premier Event
of
the 2006 Holiday Season

It's Tri-Valley CAREs'
Volunteer
and
Friends
Recognition Party

Join our staff, board, volunteers, members, interns and supporters to enjoy great holiday food, friendship, music and fun as we celebrate YOU and all that you have done to promote peace, justice and a healthy environment this past year.

YOU make a world of difference here at Tri-Valley CAREs. From mailing parties to public hearings to petition drives to special events, we could not succeed as we do without YOU, our valued members and volunteers.

Party attire is casual and festive. So, come as you are (hey, we love you as you are). The event is "drop in" -- and will be held at our offices, 2582 Old First Street, Livermore.

Date: Thursday, December 7, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM

Join us for all or part of the fun

We have a special surprise -- just for YOU.

New members and friends welcome.

Please RSVP to (925) 443-7148 -- We'll see you there!


January Tri-Valley CAREs Meeting

From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, January 18

Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM, Livermore Library
Community Room
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Make peace, justice and the environment your New Year's resolution. We invite you to come to our first meeting of 2007.

Come and find out what's happening with our "green" management bid for Livermore Lab (as of this writing, the DOE has not yet found a way to disqualify our bid -- we are still in the running!). Hear about Loulena's adventures at the Biological Weapons Convention. Share info from the "Bombplex" hearings. Learn about our meetings with the new Congress. And, much, much more!

Your support will help us achieve new victories in the coming year. Join us.

*** This holiday season, we wish you and yours joy and harmony. And, for Iraq and our world, we work daily for peace. ***

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