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Citizens Watch Newsletter June 1998

Ward Valley Update

In Brief...

by Marylia Kelley

from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 1998 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

In a victory for environmentalists fighting the proposed Ward Valley nuclear dump in So. California, the land transfer that must precede the construction of the dump has been halted, and planned soil tests for tritium have been stopped as well. Attorneys from the Justice and Interior departments concluded last month that the California state health department "lacks authority and is ineligible to purchase the land," according to a federal agency memo. California Gov. Pete Wilson is not happy, and is insisting that the sale had already taken place. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Colorado River Native Nations Alliance, which with a number of allies occupied the site for more than 100 days, is holding a spiritual gathering at Ward Valley on June 16. Call (760) 326-6267 for details.

Tri-Valley CAREs' Name -- Your Input Wanted

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 1998 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

When we formed in 1983, we chose our name to reflect several important values. A number of founding members (but not all) lived in the Tri-Valley area around Livermore Lab. All of us CAREd about nuclear issues. We wanted a name that reflected our deep commitment to peace, justice and the environment - causes we saw as inextricably linked. We strove to express these global ideals from a local base, in part to counter Lab propaganda that all peace advocates came from "out of town," and were thus out of touch with local views. We desired a name that would signify our opposition to nuclear weapons themselves, and the attendant pollution, whether or not the weapons were used again in war. Of these and other considerations, Tri-Valley CAREs (Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment) was born.

Now its the late '90s, and several things have contributed to our discussion of whether or not to change our name. Some of us have questioned whether the political climate nowadays has so changed the meaning of the word "citizen" that it has taken on an exclusionary connotation, standing only for U.S. citizens. (As we look back to our beginnings, this was not then the case; not all our founding members held their citizenship in the U.S.) Some of us have been approached (and reproached) by other progressive folks who have voiced objections to the word "citizen," believing it to be exclusionary. Too, some of our colleague organizations have decided to change their names, for example Citizens for a Better Environment has become Communities for a Better Environment.

The vast majority polled so far have spoken in favor of changing our name- from Tri-Valley CAREs (Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment) to Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment). Thoughts have ranged from wanting to ensure we do not inadvertently feed into political and economic reprisals going on against those who hold citizenship in other nations to reasons of just liking the word "communities," several saying it sounded more "powerful," some citing its "welcoming" feel. Sharing a root with the words communal and communion, it denotes a group of like-minded folks.

One member expressed concern, however, that the name "communities" would change the focus away from the responsibility that each of us has as an individual to stand for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Another member suggested that instead of "communities," we should choose the singular word "community," which she felt would better express that we are sharing these goals as a group of people. (Another member offered a tongue-in-cheek compromise: Tri-Valley CAREs (Comrades Against a Radioactive Environment).

So here is where you come in. If you are a newsletter reader (and you must be, if you have gotten this far) and you consider yourself a part of the group, we want to hear from you. We plan to make a decision at our June 18 meeting. If you have an opinion, call or fax us before then. Or, better yet, come to the meeting!

The Real alternative to Nuclear Testing -- Here and Abroad

from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 1998 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Zia Mian, a Pakistani physicist, and Frank von Hippel, a U.S. physicist - both currently at Princeton and both friends of Tri-Valley CAREs - wrote this excellent analysis, which appeared in the Washington Post on May 31, 1998. In it, they link the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan to a number of key, inseparably related, issues including the proliferation-provocative role played by the U.S. "Stockpile Stewardship" program, the overriding need for global nuclear disarmament and the current status of the test ban and fissile material treaties. Read on...

"India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests are a challenge that can be met in either of two ways. One would be to simply recreate the nuclear status quo with two more nuclear-weapons states and accept the enormous dangers for the people of India and Pakistan and the rest of the world. The alternative would be to take international steps to devalue nuclear-weapons' possession by moving the nuclear goal posts toward disarmament.

"The history of the past 50 years teaches that nuclear weapons are unusable for rational military purposes and that their existence makes ordinary human miscalculation or madness potentially catastrophic. Yet the nuclear-weapon states act as if they are giants in a world of pygmies - creating indignation in many countries and a temptation for nationalistic parties such as India's newly governing Bharatiya Janata Party.

"The demands being made by the international community are that India and Pakistan not test again and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It appears that India may be willing to do so. Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to India's prime minister, has announced a testing moratorium, adding that "we would like to convert the moratorium into a formal obligation." And Indian weapons scientists claim they can maintain and further develop their nuclear-weapons expertise in the same fashion as the U.S., with subcritical tests and computer simulations. Pakistan's leaders may not feel themselves to be in the same position - especially if they believe India's claim that it can now produce thermonuclear weapons of unlimited power.

"Indian officials have also indicated that New Delhi will drop its opposition to international negotiations to ban production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons, the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. India's position now appears to be that, if it can keep what it has and produce more during the negotiations, it is willing to negotiate. Once again, however, Pakistan, which has a much smaller stockpile, is much less positive. On May 19, Munir Akram, the Pakistani ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, declared that, in Pakistan's view, the fissile material treaty is "an entirely irrelevant goal at this moment."

"In short, India is behaving like a state that has successfully broken into the nuclear club, and Pakistan, after hesitating over the likely ruinous price of membership, has decided that it must join as well. Israel slipped in long ago, thanks to the U.S. being willing to cast a blind eye in its direction. Other states such as Iran and Iraq - and then perhaps South Korea, Taiwan and Japan - wait in the wings.

"To break this dynamic the U.S., Russia and the other charter members of the club must make it more credible that they really intend to put the club out of business. The first step would be to end the civilization-endangering practice of keeping nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert - a posture that India and Pakistan are threatening to imitate.

"The U.S. should also immediately ratify the test ban treaty and thereby encourage Russia and China to ratify (Britain and France already have).
Bringing the treaty into force is a key first test of the world's willingness to walk away from nuclear weapons. The U.S., Russia and China should underline the irreversibility of their commitment by shutting down their nuclear test sites. (France already has, and Britain, which has no test site of its own, used that of the U.S.) The United States should also cut back drastically its lavish "Stockpile Stewardship Program," which has inspired fears both at home and abroad that the U.S. intends to continue the nuclear arms race alone.

"The U.S., Russia, Britain and France should also act on their commitment at the April 1996 Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit to place excess fissile materials under international safeguards as soon as possible.
Russia and the U.S. could start by immediately committing to reduce their stockpiles of unsafeguarded fissile materials to the levels required to maintain only the 2,000 to 2,500 strategic warheads that have been agreed to for START III. This would capture nonstrategic and nondeployed warheads as well, achieving a more than 90 percent reduction from peak Cold War levels. They should also announce that they intend to reduce further, on a bilateral basis and rapidly, to 1,000 warheads each and to organize multilateral negotiations on much deeper cuts to levels that would provide a staging ground for negotiations on abolition.

"Only by making clear that the nuclear game will end soon can we reduce the incentive to begin playing."

A Success: Public Changes Lab Plans to Shortcut Cleanup

by Peter Strauss, with additions by Sally Light from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 1998 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Site 300 is Livermore Lab's high-explosives test facility, encompassing nearly 11 square miles in the Altamont Hills southeast of the Lab's main site. A Superfund site (i.e., it's on the list of the U.S.'s most contaminated sites), the area is polluted with radioactive substances, such as tritium and depleted uranium, as well as other chemical contaminants.
Site 300 is divided into Cleanup Areas, also called Operable Units (OU).
The story that follows is just one example of how a community-based group, by vigilantly "watchdogging" a densely bureaucratic process, can have a positive effect on ensuring cleanup at a nuclear weapons facility.

Changes- for the Worse

As we reported in 1996, the Lab had proposed to change its agreement with the regulators by eliminating four of the Cleanup Areas and treating them as "non-time critical removal actions." In essence, this process would have required less documentation, and there would have been no Record of Decision (ROD), a legally binding agreement, for these actions. The Lab said this would save time and money by avoiding paperwork.

At about the same time, the Lab proposed to rename the Site-wide OU to a Site-wide monitoring OU. This was defined as "surveillance monitoring of groundwater or other environmental media in areas of Site 300 and adjacent property where such monitoring is appropriate." Thus, we were faced with the prospect that no single document would set cleanup goals, performance criteria and contingency actions for the entire site.

Cleanup Areas with removal actions would have had no overriding cleanup framework. We said that these changes could have profound effects on the timing and effectiveness of cleanup, and would diminish public involvement.

Tri-Valley CAREs Acts

Tri-Valley CAREs took the following actions in response. First, we questioned the wisdom of these changes and whether this strategy would really save time and money. Second, we negotiated a commitment from the regulators that there would be a public workshop associated with each removal action, if requested. Third, we received a commitment that there would be a Site-wide ROD. This last action was crucial in our efforts to achieve a safe and integrated approach to cleanup.

We wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency stating that before community acceptance could occur (one of the nine criteria for approval of a cleanup plan under Superfund law), the regulators and DOE must agree on the scope of a Site-wide ROD. We submitted a proposed scope, one that recommended (1) that the Site-wide ROD establish Site-wide cleanup goals and performance criteria, (2) that all removal actions would be required to meet these goals, and (3) if the removal action failed to meet these goals, DOE would be responsible to go back and remedy the situation.

Changes Again- for the Better

The regulators and the Lab agreed to the basic philosophy outlined in our proposal. Last year, we began to see a change in direction by the Lab.
First, it proposed to use the regular process authorized by the Superfund law on a Cleanup Area that it had proposed to eliminate in 1995 (the Building 832 Area).

In a second case, because the Lab had already started a removal action process for the Building 815 area, it continued the process. However, the Lab's proposed removal action did not address all contaminants in that area. Due to our comments, the Lab redefined its action. The project manager realized that if the Lab had continued its present course, it would have to go back and install an additional remedy at a later date, costing them more money than if they had gone through the normal process in the first place. He realized that by dividing up the problems "piecemeal", the Lab would have enormous headaches reconciling all the pieces later on.
Since then, the Lab has proposed that a newly identified cleanup area (Building 854), which is still being characterized, be dealt with through the normal Superfund process.

As a result of our efforts, since any partial action now has to meet site-wide goals, DOE and the Lab are taking a hard look at whether their previously-desired, rigidly segmented removal action process actually saves them any money. We believe that this change in policy is due to persistent and timely public participation. While we do not advocate paperwork for the sake of paperwork, we still want to assure that there is an overall cleanup plan that integrates each step of the process.

Order Now: National Ignition Facility Report Out Soon

by Paul Carroll

from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 1998 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs is about to release its comprehensive report on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) titled, "Nuclear Con-Fusion: The National Ignition Facility - Flawed Rationale, High Costs and Security Risks." In this report, you can learn about the faulty claims made by DOE for this $5 billion boondoggle, and the very real problems that construction of such a dangerous nuclear weapons project will create.

NIF, at its most benign, is a huge waste of taxpayer money. At its worst, it is the next step toward improving and advancing nuclear weapons with frightening potential for the future. Construction of NIF is a clear and provocative signal to the world that the U.S. has no intention of abiding by its treaty obligations, and plans, instead, to continue with a business-as-usual attitude toward nuclear weapons strategy and thinking.

The Report Details How

** The mantra of "safety and reliability" is a DOE creation to justify spending more money on lab weapons projects. The truth is that today's weapons are incredibly "safe" and "reliable" and there is no reason to believe they will deteriorate rapidly as they await dismantlement (whether we wish them to or not).

** Even if the stockpile were in need of tools for safety and reliability, NIF would have little to contribute since it studies the parts of nuclear weapons that are the simplest and most robust. However, it can be used to further nuclear weapons design.

** DOE's claims that NIF is an important step toward research on nuclear fusion energy for society are overblown and misplaced. The "energy research" claim is a strategy to co-opt civilian scientists and sell NIF as having various "useful" applications. The fact is, fusion energy is still a long way off- if practicable, or desirable, at all. Furthermore, a laser would not be the kind of machine used to generate such power.

** NIF is also said to be a great boost for the local economy. The truth is the long-term job impact is minimal, and similar spending in any type of civilian project would create more jobs.

** Many scientists inside and outside the DOE labs have stated that NIF has little chance of achieving its vaunted scientific goal of "ignition." Many high-level physicists give it a 10% chance, while some of NIF's strongest supporters give it only a 50-50 chance!

** NIF will create more streams of radioactive and hazardous waste at Livermore Lab. Rather than focus on the fact that Livermore is already a Superfund site with serious cleanup needs, DOE is looking to add more waste and contamination!

** If NIF is built, many nations (India and Pakistan, to name only two among the many) will view it as U.S. hypocrisy in light of the recently signed CTBT. That treaty has the "systematic process to achieve nuclear disarmament" stated as a goal. NIF clearly shows that the U.S. is having trouble giving up its addiction to nuclear weapons and "Nuclear Insanity Forever."

What Can I Do?

Besides reading the report on NIF and informing yourself about this program, there are ways for you to have a direct impact on ending DOE's weapons addiction.

Letter and Resolution

Bay Area Rep. Lynn Woolsey has written and sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to revisit the decisions made for the entire, far-flung "Stockpile Stewardship" program of which NIF is the most expensive element.
The letter had 30 co-signers, and calls on the President to revise current policies on nuclear weapons and cut the budgets for these programs. And, currently, there is a Congressional Resolution that has been drafted to stop the "Stockpile Stewardship" program. Has your Representative signed up as a co-sponsor yet? This resolution will help move the U.S. toward honoring its international commitments. Call us for details, or to get a copy of either the letter or the resolution.

Say "No" to More Money for Nukes

This month, the Fiscal Year 1999 budget is being debated in Congress. If DOE and the weapons labs have their way, your tax dollars will go to buy new machines and facilities to advance weapons science. The DOE request for "Stockpile Stewardship" is $4.5 billion. NIF is slated to take a big bite out of your wallet at $291 million, up $62 million from its current year funding. What is really needed is funding for the cleanup of DOE's mess and safe dismantlement of nuclear weapons.

Marylia Kelley
Tri-Valley CAREs
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) 5720 East Ave. #116, Livermore, CA USA 94550 is our website, currently under construction (925) 443-7148 - is our phone
(925) 443-0177 - is our fax

Working for peace, justice and a healthy environment since 1983, Tri-Valley CAREs has been a member of the nation-wide Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in the U.S. since 1989, and is a co-founding member of the international Abolition 2000 network for the elimination of nuclear weapons in 1995.

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