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June/July 2009 Citizen's Watch Newsletter

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Haz Waste Building Closure

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' June/July 2009 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The CA Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is considering approval of a Closure Plan for Livermore Lab's Building 419 (B-419), a hazardous waste management facility. The public is asked to submit comments on the project by July 24, 2009.

B-419 is a 7,860 square-foot building located approximately 300 feet from Livermore Lab's East Avenue site boundary. Between 1975 and 1989, it was used for equipment decontamination and hazardous and radioactive mixed waste treatment activities, such as size reduction and solidification. During a seismic evaluation in 1991, it was determined that B-419 could not meet applicable guidelines and hazardous waste management activities in the building were discontinued.

Prior excavation activities around B-419 revealed soil contamination with mercury and volatile organic compounds. In addition, it's possible that parts of the building may be contaminated with radionuclides, since radioactive materials were managed there. Moreover, radioactive tritium was found in groundwater near the building. Debris resulting from demolition of B-419 will be classified as low level radioactive waste or mixed low level radioactive waste.

Because of the extensive contamination in and around B-419, the Closure Plan presents risks to public health and the environment. These risks include impacts to worker health, air quality, biological resources, water quality and the generation of significant quantities of hazardous and radioactive waste. Public comments are essential to ensure that this project is conducted in a way that will not cause harm!

The Closure Plan for B-419 is regulated under the California Environmental Quality Act. As such, DTSC prepared an Initial Study for the project. Based on that, DTSC issued a draft Negative Declaration, in which DTSC states that it does not believe that implementation of the project will have a significant impact on human health or the environment, despite evidence to the contrary.

A list of constituents of potential concern has been developed for the project. The list includes volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and radionuclides. The closure project's stated objective is to remediate soils to background levels for inorganic metals and non-detectable levels of organic chemicals. If these cleanup targets cannot be met, then B-419 will instead meet "health- or risk-based" cleanup standards. In the event that none of those standards can be achieved, Livermore Lab will be required to submit a post-closure permit application to DTSC. This permit would set out how the Lab will monitor or take care of the site to ensure that any remaining contaminants do not impact human health or the environment, now and into the future. This may include deep soil or groundwater treatment under the federal Superfund program. (Note: The entire Livermore Lab main site was placed on the EPA's Superfund list of most contaminated locations in the nation in 1987.)

The implementation of the Closure Plan will be overseen by a California-registered engineer, whose sampling results and closure certification report will be reviewed by DTSC as a part of closure verification. Because of the complexity of the closure project, DTSC granted an extension to the 180-day closure requirements under applicable regulations, which will allow the project to proceed on a 21-month schedule.

At this time, DTSC has not scheduled a public hearing, although one will be scheduled if DTSC receives such a request. The DTSC is currently holding a written public comment period to allow for input on the draft plan. Comments may be submitted by letter or e-mail.

As this goes to press, we are reviewing the details of the Closure Plan, and we will prepare technical comments. One of our initial comments is that additional sampling (especially for radionuclides) should occur before demolition of the building. Our reasoning is that if additional sampling takes places after the building is torn down (as is presently proposed), and new contaminants are found, the workers may already have been exposed during demolition.

We invite you to also submit comments. Additional information can be found on our website at www.trivalleycares.org.

Send your comments to Ryan Batty, Project Mgr., 8800 Cal Center Drive, Sacramento, CA 95826, or to rbatty@dtsc.ca.gov.

After reviewing and responding to the public's comments, DTSC will approve the closure plan unchanged, approve the closure plan with conditions, or reject the closure plan for later revision by Livermore Lab.

Nuclear Bomb Budget: Action Alert

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' June/July 2009 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Even as President Obama proclaims a long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons, too many in Congress are busy fattening the pig of the nation's fiscal year (FY) 2010 nuclear weapons budget.

In general, Dept. of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons programs are being larded up with additional funds, above the President's request. And, programs needed to clean up toxic and radioactive pollution at DOE sites across the country are being robbed blind to pay for it.

This is not the change we need. Moreover, a hawkish U.S. nuclear weapons budget could stymie good policy changes from being incorporated into the Administration's pending Nuclear Posture Review, while also undermining the President's international disarmament initiatives.

The budget will likely take several months for Congress to complete, and thus public opinion could have a beneficial impact. We encourage all of our members and friends to speak with their members of Congress. Here are some key funding trends to discuss with them:

First, the "authorizing" committee actions. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) increased the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) nuclear weapons activities budget by $152 million over the President's request. The largest chunk ($32 million) went to the National Ignition Facility, whose budget for next year already exceeds $400 million. And, where does this money come from? More than $100 million of it came out of the DOE's environmental cleanup funds, including for soil and groundwater detoxification at Livermore Lab.

The HASC also greases the skids for weapons development to occur covertly as part of the stockpile "Life Extension Programs" and for DOE to come back hat in hand for further "modernization" of the weapons complex. And, as the bill moved toward completion in the House, cleanup programs were subjected to additional funding raids. In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee (SASC) added $106 million to DOE NNSA weapons programs and robbed $100 million from the DOE environmental cleanup program, which is similar to what the HASC did.

In the budget process, authorizers allow funding, but it is appropriators who write the checks.

The House Energy & Water Appropriations full committee "markup" cuts the DOE nuclear weapons programs $64 million below the President's request. That's good, but, unfortunately, it also cuts DOE environmental cleanup by more than $100 million.

The Senate Energy & Water Appropriations subcommittee "markup" adds approximately $83 million to DOE nuclear weapons programs, while also adding funds above the President's request for environmental cleanup. So, hooray for the cleanup funds in this "markup," but not for the weapons.

While budget details are yet to be revealed, one key difference between the House and Senate appropriators is that the Senate wants more money than the House for a new plutonium bomb plant at the Los Alamos Lab.

Tri-Valley CAREs recommends initiating a conversation with your members of Congress on nuclear policy - and on the budget. In most offices, the defense aide is the right person to speak with.

Ask your Senators and Representative to support environmental cleanup. Ask him or her to reject an increase in nuclear weapons funding. Let your elected officials know that you support Obama's efforts toward a nuclear weapons-free future, and that you don't want to see them undermined by an aggressive nuclear bomb budget.

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121. And, check our blog and website at www.trivalleycares.org for details, budget updates and specific action alerts. THANK YOU.

New Details Emerge About Livermore Lab Security Failures

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' June/July 2009 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs recently obtained documents regarding Livermore Lab's security deficiencies, including failures during force-on-force tests last year in which mock terrorists were able to gain access to the Lab's nuclear materials.

We had requested the documents from the Dept. of Energy (DOE) under the Freedom of Information Act. While the documents were redacted (censored), the information that we obtained is crucial to understanding the magnitude of the security failures. Here we have used DOE's own words and terms as much as possible. So, bear with the bureaucratic language. The substance is worth it.

The DOE gave the Lab the lowest possible rating in two crucial security areas: protective force performance and classified matter protection and control.

During March-April 2008, the DOE Office of Independent Oversight inspected safeguards and security and cyber security programs at Livermore Lab and the Livermore Site Office (LSO), which is responsible for oversight of the Lab. The inspection evaluated the performance of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), LSO and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, the Lab management contractor, in the following areas: classified matter protection & control, personnel security, physical security systems, material control & accountability, protective force, protection program management, classification & information control, and cyber security. Since NNSA plans to remove Category I and II (bomb usable) quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (called special nuclear material or SNM) from Livermore by the end of 2012, the Lab was exempted from meeting the requirements of NNSA's 2005 design basis threat (DBT). Instead, the Lab only had to meet "the less stringent requirements of the 2003 DBT," according to the report. The DBT identifies credible threats that are used to analyze security programs, systems, components, equipment, information or material.

The inspection was designed to be performance-oriented, where possible. For example, the Lab's protective force was subjected to two force-on-force performance tests, which evaluated their ability to protect the Lab's SNM from terrorist attacks. Agents from the Lab helped develop realistic conditions, in which adversaries were able to penetrate the site using false badges and by concealing equipment and weaponry within secret compartments in their vehicles. Although the inspection report noted several positive attributes of the Lab's security programs, it found numerous weaknesses. According to the inspection, "a large number of significant deficiencies currently exist in program elements responsible for the protection of important national security assets."

Alarmingly, "serious deficiencies" were found in the Laboratory's programs designed to protect SNM, particularly in the planning basis underlying the protection system and the demonstrated capabilities of the protective force. The inspection report noted that the Lab didn't have adequate plans in place to protect SNM and had not conducted the appropriate training exercises.

The inspectors wrote that the deficiencies "raise serious questions about the true effectiveness of the protection system that is in place" and "significantly degrade [the protective force's] capacity to prevail over a prepared and determined adversary." The inspection report also documented physical security system weaknesses, including voids in camera coverage at Protected Area portals, poor nighttime resolution of assessment cameras, and failure of the master control mechanism on the pan/tilt/zoom camera system used for assessment. In addition, the inspection report identified serious deficiencies in the Lab's programs intended to protect classified information, including in the handling and control of classified matter, as well as physical security measures. The inspectors also found that the Lab's management feedback and improvement mechanisms do not effectively inform managers of protection program status, which allowed the security deficiencies to develop and/or worsen over the past several years.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the deficiencies, Livermore Lab's protective force failed both of the large-scale force-on-force exercises, which were centered on the Lab's Superblock, where SNM is stored. The objective of the first exercise was to effect the theft of Category I SNM, while the objective of the second was to create an onsite modified radiological sabotage event. The mock attackers breached the storage location within the Superblock through the back wall in one exercise and the roof in another.

The attackers' tactics were based upon covert infiltration until being detected, multiple assault points, violence of action, speed of execution, and deliberate attempts to confuse the protective force response through diversionary activities designed to create a continuous state of chaos. It was assumed that the adversaries would have access to all-terrain vehicles, since these are allowed onsite to be advertised for sale. The exercises were conducted during off-shift hours, when protective force staffing levels would be at a minimum.

During the force-on-force tests, the attackers prevailed in both exercises, due to a number of factors. For instance, the Lab's Dillon Aero gatling guns, which fire 3,000 shots per minute, experienced malfunctions, problems or failures during three of six deployment opportunities during the exercises. Of great concern for those living or working near the Lab, the inspectors found that administrative and logistical controls-such as exterior aiming markers and "no fire zones" to prevent unnecessary casualties-had not been established for these weapons.

The inspectors also found that there was no dedicated special response team at the Lab, so precious time was wasted assembling one to respond to the simulated attacks. In addition, a secondary alarm system was unable to rapidly disseminate critical information and various other communications problems occurred. Further, the inspectors determined that the Lab's protective force supervisors did not demonstrate the skills and training necessary to effectively direct the actions of tactical units responding to an armed adversary attack. The Lab's protective force also failed to demonstrate the effective use of team tactics to implement containment, denial, or recapture strategies.

Yet, it is clear that the force-on-force tests did not approximate real conditions. LSO was provided with a plan, which listed the specific dates during which the exercises were to be conducted and the criteria by which the security programs would be evaluated. Moreover, because the force-on-force tests were conducted at night, the Lab's protective force did not have to deal with realistic hostage or bystander casualty situations. In addition, safety restrictions "severely restricted" activities conducted during the exercises, "further limiting the realism," according to the inspection report. The Lab performed poorly under favorable circumstances.

In response, LSO and the Lab developed an interim corrective action plan. However, the Office of Independent Oversight found that some of the corrective actions require clarification or details. Moreover, a Government Accountability Office report released in March found that, in the past, Livermore Lab has not sustained corrective actions to address similar security deficiencies.

By and for Youth: Think Outside the Bomb

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' June/July 2009 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The 2009 conference will take place in Albuquerque, NM on August 13-16. For 5 years, Think Outside the Bomb has brought young people together to share resources, strategize collaboratively, and build a broad movement for nuclear disarmament.

TOTB aims to engage each participant intellectually, emotionally, and personally. We seek to impart not only the inspiration to work for a nuclear-free future, but also the tools and skills to do so. TOTB conferences are organized almost entirely by youth and have proven to be life-changing experiences for the participants.

Attendees can expect to receive info and to build skills during the conference in order to make their activism for peace and justice a reality in their communities and across the country. Emphasis is placed on training for direct political activism. Limited travel stipends are available. Once in Albuquerque, room and board will be provided. It is crucial, however, to sign up in advance.

To obtain more information -- and your conference application -- go to www.thinkoutsidethebomb.org. Or, call us at the Tri-Valley CAREs office.

Alerts 4 U

from Tri-Valley CAREs' June/July 2008 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, July 16 & Thursday, August 20

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

Join us. Together, we stop nuclear weapons and protect our communities and environment from the toxic and radioactive pollution that accompanies nuclear development. Tri-Valley CAREs meets on the third Thursday of the month. New and long-time members are welcome.

Saturday, July 18

Tri-Valley CAREs' annual strategic planning retreat
9:45 AM - 4 PM, UCC
1886 College Ave., Livermore
RSVP required (925) 443-7148

Tri-Valley CAREs board, staff, community members and volunteers meet annually to discuss and plan program priorities for the coming year. It is important for all sectors of our organization to take part in the planning process. If you are an active member, or are thinking of becoming more active, please call Marylia for details. We will provide background materials on strategic planning and everything you need for the retreat. You bring yourself, your enthusiasm, and one potluck dish to share for lunch.

Thursday, August 6

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration
at the gates of Livermore Lab
7:30 AM, near Vasco Rd. & Patterson Pass Rd.
(925) 443-7148 for details

All are invited to join us in marking the first use of an atomic bomb in war. The U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th was followed three days later by the use of a second nuclear bomb, which devastated Nagasaki. By commemorating the occasion each year, we stand in solidarity with the Hibakusha (survivors) in saying "never again" and demanding the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Too, publicly marking this day ensures that the people of the U.S. and the world do not forget the horror of nuclear weapons and war. Further, by holding a commemoration at the gates of Livermore Lab, we call on the U.S. government to abandon further development of nuclear weapons at the very location where these bombs are designed. Bay Area co-sponsoring groups are holding commemoration planning meetings. Call us to learn more. Join us for this important event.

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