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Citizens Watch Newsletter March 2001

Scientists and Engineers Renounce Work on Nuclear Weapons

by Marylia Kelley and Bob Schaeffer
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Leaders of four organizations that monitor the U.S. nuclear weapons complex launched an international pledge campaign at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in February.

The Scientists' and Engineers' Pledge to Renounce Weapons of Mass Destruction commits its signatories: "never to participate in the design, development, testing, production, maintenance, targeting or use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons..."

"I fully endorse your campaign," declared Dr. Joseph Rotblat, the Nobel Laureate and physicist who left the Manhattan Project for reasons of conscience.

"At a time when science plays such a powerful role in the life of society, when the whole destiny of mankind may hinge on the results of scientific research, it is incumbent on all scientists to be fully conscious of that role and conduct themselves accordingly. I appeal to my fellow scientists to remember their responsibility to humanity," Rotblat wrote to the four organizations sponsoring the pledge, echoing his 1995 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The four organizations are: Tri-Valley CAREs (Livermore, CA), Los Alamos Study Group (Santa Fe, NM), Western States Legal Foundation (Oakland, CA) and Natural Resources Defense Council (Washington, DC).

"Scientists and engineers today need to know that the U.S. weapons labs are busy developing new, destabilizing nuclear weapons, including deep earth-penetrating 'mini-nukes' and re-designed, more accurate long-range warheads," explained Tri-Valley CAREs' executive director, Marylia Kelley.

"A major element of the pledge drive will be to raise public awareness of the different guises under which nuclear weapons work is hidden, including in the so-called 'Stockpile Stewardship' program," Kelley continued.

The pledge is part of a multi-faceted campaign by the four groups to discourage college students and established researchers alike from accepting any employment that entails work on nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.

In addition to the pledge itself, the campaign will utilize giant billboards, "Life at the Nuclear Weapons Labs" fact sheets and in-person outreach to University classrooms and laboratory researchers.

Dr. Andreas Toupadakis, a chemist at Livermore Lab who resigned last year rather than allow his work to be used for nuclear weapons, spoke at the press conference to launch the pledge drive. Scientists are often tricked into doing weapons work, he explained. "This pledge will help graduate students to make sure they don't join places that they will regret later," Toupadakis told reporters.

Also speaking on the pledge's behalf, Dr. Charlie Schwartz, Physics Professor Emeritus at U.C. Berkeley, discussed how science education serves to foster compartmentalization in the students' thinking process. Consideration of "big picture" issues, such as questions involving ethics and personal responsibility, must become part of the training offered to scientists and engineers, he concluded.

Following the Saturday press conference, about 50 scientists came to the groups' booth and signed the pledge during the AAAS meeting. Many more took a copy of the pledge and its supporting materials with them to read and consider.

Dr. Julian Borrill, an astrophysicist at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and a speaker at the AAAS meeting, summed up the moral responsibility of today's technical professionals: "As scientists and engineers, we are in a unique position to bring about the demise of weapons of mass destruction. These weapons cannot exist without us - we design them, we manufacture them, we test them, we maintain them and we deploy them. We make them possible, and, if we choose to, we can make them impossible."

Initial pledge signers include: Dr. Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Laureate; Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of Theoretical Physics, City Univ. of New York; Dr. Charles Schwartz, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Univ. of CA, Berkeley; Dr. Andreas Toupadakis, former Staff Scientist. Los Alamos and Livermore Labs; Dr. Pervez Hodbhoy, Visiting Professor of Physics, Univ. of Maryland; and, Dr. Zia Mian, Research Scientist, Princeton Univ.

A ready-to-sign pledge form in pdf format is available on this web site (and others); an electronic sign-up form is at

Enviro and Taxpayer Groups Join Forces to Cut NIF and Other Harmful Projects

by Marylia Kelley and Melanie Lombard
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The federal government spends billions every year on programs that harm the environment and public health, according to a new national study.

The report, "Green Scissors 2001," recommends cutting or reforming 74 programs worth $55 billion over the next 5 years.

"Green Scissors 2001" takes particular aim at the problem-plagued National Ignition Facility (NIF) mega-laser, under construction at Livermore Lab. NIF was chosen by the national coalition that produced the study as a "choice cut" for this year.

"NIF should be canceled and construction terminated." This would save $10 billion over the 30 year lifetime of the project, according to the report.

Members of Tri-Valley CAREs and the California Public Interest Research Group gathered at the Livermore Laboratory on Feb. 22 to release the study's findings and meet with reporters.

Tri-Valley CAREs' Marylia Kelley explained the still-escalating costs, environmental hazards and nuclear proliferation risks of building and operating the NIF.

According to the federal General Accounting Office last year, estimates for completion of the NIF rose from $1.2 billion to $4 billion. However, the $4 billion doesn't include actually throwing the switch and operating the laser, among other things, explained Kelley.

"Green Scissors 2001" used a life-cycle estimate of $10 billion. As shocking as that figure is, the total may climb even higher, Kelley told reporters. In the next day's edition of the Tri-Valley Herald, Livermore Lab spokesperson Susan Houghton refused to provide any estimate for the cost of the NIF over its 30-year lifetime. She merely attacked the $10 billion figure as a "distortion."

Tri-Valley CAREs and CALPIRG also brought a NIF cake to the Lab, complete with a colored-frosting target chamber, to celebrate the release of the "Green Scissors 2001" study. The groups then cut the cake to symbolize NIF's inclusion as one of only ten "choice cuts" in the report. (We are less certain what eating the cake symbolized, but it was delicious.)

"Green Scissors 2001" resulted from research conducted by dozens of taxpayer and environmental organizations across the nation. Programs that most egregiously fleece the taxpayer and contaminate the environment were then compiled into the final report. "'Green Scissors 2001' shows that the practice of handing out polluter pork is still thriving in Washington, DC", Melanie Lombard of CALPIRG told reporters.

On the other hand, the unique "Green Scissors" coalition of conservative taxpayer groups and progressive environmental organizations has proven to be a potent lobbying force, particularly in the halls of Congress. We at Tri-Valley CAREs stand always ready to assist them - for example with up-to-the-minute, accurate information on NIF - as they seek to cut NIF's budget in 2001. Working together, we believe we can succeed!

"Green Scissors 2001" can be downloaded from the web at Please feel free to use this information in discussions with your neighbors, co-workers and elected officials.

Meet the New Secretary of Energy

by Inga Olson and the Idaho "snakes"
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Before assuming his new post, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was head of the Michigan Republican Party, a top aide to Vice President Dan Quayle, and a one-term Senator from Michigan (defeated in 2000). Looking at a slice of his voting record on issues that are of particular interest to us shows:

  • In 1995, he voted for substantial cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget to enforce air, water, and wetland regulations.

  • He voted to weaken a community's right to know about toxics by voting to eliminate up to 90 percent of the chemicals that industry currently must report.

  • He helped successful efforts to block high fuel-economy standards for sport-utility vehicles and supported unsuccessful efforts to suspend the federal gasoline tax.

  • He joined last year's unsuccessful effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

  • While in the Senate, he consistently voted to move irradiated reactor fuel to Yucca Mountain under the "Mobile Chernobyl" bill.

  • He supports a "Star Wars" missile defense system.

  • He twice co-sponsored legislation to abolish the Department of Energy.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Secretary Abraham accepted $90,171 from 35 oil and gas political action committees in 1999 & 2000.

We were successful in helping to educate the former Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, on some critical issues including cost overruns and schedule delays involving the NIF.

So, while it does not appear that Tri-Valley CAREs and Secretary Abraham share similar views on many key issues, we will be ready to meet with him none-the-less. We would hope to explore, for example, whether his "budget hawk" philosophy will include NIF.

With the new administration in place, we also want to make certain that our well-researched and community-supported approach to nuclear weapons issues receives a full hearing.

Thus, we will continue to be a voice for disarmament -- and for improvements in the health, safety, and quality of life in communities around the nuclear weapons complex.

(Thanks to the Snake River Alliance for the info on Abraham's record.)

Legal Updates: Speaking Truth to Court

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs comes out of a long-standing and deeply meaningful peace movement tradition of "speaking truth to power." We do this in all of our work; you will find it reflected in our writings, our formal meetings with officials, and our demonstrations at the Lab's gates. Occasionally, we also file lawsuits; in essence, "speaking truth to power" in a language that power understands. It is about this latter application of the principle that this bit of space is devoted.

Here, then, are short updates on several cases that you, our readers, have become familiar with through articles in past newsletters.

  • In last month's Citizen's Watch, we told you of our pending Motion for Preliminary Injunction to prevent the Dept. of Energy (DOE) from continuing to use an illegally-prepared "Rebaseline" report for the National Ignition Facility. That motion has been filed, and we now have a court date scheduled for March 22.

    At that time, we expect the judge will rule to bar DOE from utilizing the report to garner funds for NIF from Congress, in addition to other public uses. Further, we seek a ruling to prevent DOE from forming any future NIF committees that are, like the prior one, secret, biased and out of compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Our co-plaintiff is the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • In our November 2000 Citizen's Watch, we discussed two lawsuits we had just filed due to the DOE's noncompliance with the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). One of our cases revolved around the Department's failure to provide requested documents on the "mega-strategy," a plan to increase select "Stockpile Stewardship" programs and shift various nuclear weapons projects around the DOE complex. Under the proposed "mega-strategy" more plutonium and nuclear weapons activities will be coming to Livermore. Since filing, we have obtained the "mega-strategy" documents for which we sued. This is the good news.

    However, the contents of the documents are not good news. They show, for example, that Livermore Laboratory is scheduled to design and certify two new "modifications" of the W80, a nuclear warhead that sits atop cruise missiles. The modifications, called "mod 2" and "mod 3," are part of what one document calls an "uninterrupted" re-design program for nuclear weapons. There is even a veiled reference to a W80 "option 3a" listed in the documents. From the DOE and Lab perspective, there is no end in sight to nuclear weapons development.

  • In our other FOIA case, DOE is still refusing to comply with its legal obligation to provide us with the documents we requested involving the NIF's inertial confinement fusion management meetings. These are the meetings at which top management discussed NIF's schedule slippages and cost overruns, even while publicly proclaiming the project was on time and on budget. We have an April 20 court date. We expect the judge will compel DOE to release the NIF documents.

  • We may also have news for you soon on the environmental lawsuit we have been pursuing over the past year. We filed it under the CA Environmental Quality Act after the CA State Dept. of Toxics offered Livermore Lab a permit to build a $32 million hazardous and mixed radioactive waste treatment facility without proper environmental review. Our co-plaintiffs are the Western States Legal Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility - S. F. Bay Area Chapter.

    Stay tuned.

Action Alert! A Plea From Our Russian Colleagues

by Inga Olson
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

On Dec. 21, 2000, the Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament, gave preliminary approval for an amendment to the Environmental Protection Law lifting the ban on importing spent nuclear fuel.

"They have dollar signs in their eyes," said Natalia Mironova, a leader in the broad-based environmental movement that gathered two and one-half million signatures in Russia to oppose the importation of foreign nuclear waste.

Moreover, Tri-Valley CAREs recently learned from a Livermore Lab report that the U.S. may propose sending its "U.S. origin" irradiated nuclear fuel from 8 nuclear reactors in Taiwan to the Russian site at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, if the change in Russian law goes through. "The U.S. Dept. of Energy and the American nuclear industry are looking to set up a radioactive waste toilet in Russia," charged Vladimir Sliviak, co-chair of Ecodefense.

Our good friend Natalia Mironova and her colleagues in the Movement for Nuclear Safety in Chelyabinsk, Russia have requested that we circulate a statement they have drafted in opposition to the new law.

An excerpt from that statement says: "It is unethical to take advantage of a country's socio-economic crisis by offering profits in exchange for storing materials that present serious dangers to its population. Each country must take responsibility for its own waste products."

Please help us help the Russian environmentalists! Contact us immediately if you belong to a group that can sign on to this statement. (If you need a copy of the complete statement, just call, fax or email us and we will send it.)

We need your sign-on no later than March 14, so we have time to send the statement to our Russian colleagues to distribute to the Duma before the final vote on March 22.

"Not by Might"

by Carolyn Scarr and Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' March 2001 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

For nearly 20 years, people of faith and other peace advocates have gathered on Good Friday to demonstrate and witness outside Livermore Lab. The theme for this year's event is "Not by Might."

Sister Stella Goodpasture, a longtime Good Friday participant, will be the keynote speaker. Sister Stella is a member of the Dominican Order, in the congregation of Mission San Jose. She is the justice promoter for this region and also works at St. John the Baptist Church in El Cerrito where her responsibilities include education and community action in social justice issues.

Tri-Valley CAREs' Ann Seitz will welcome the participants to Livermore and provide a short update on the nuclear weapons work being conducted at the Lab. There will also be music and a procession to the gates of the Livermore Lab.

As we gather this Good Friday, there is strong Lab management and Bush administration support for "Star Wars" missile defense concepts and for new weaponry, including a deep earth-penetrating "mini-nuke."

Further, Tri-Valley CAREs and Western States Legal Foundation, in separate Freedom of Information Act requests, have recently discovered additional evidence of widespread Lab involvement in a broad array of new, advanced weapons concepts--from plans to use the National Ignition Facility for "fireball" weapons development tests to research into two new "modifications" of the W80 warhead.

These weapons concepts, already begun during the Clinton era, are now accompanied by the Bush administration's posture of increased hostility and saber-rattling in a number of areas of tension.

This is a very important year to join your friends, fellow peace activists and neighbors at the Livermore Lab on Good Friday, April 13. Come to the corner of East and Vasco for the service. Music begins at 6:45 AM. Speakers begin at 7 AM. The procession, an opportunity at the gate for those who choose to nonviolently risk arrest and a community meeting nearby will follow.

Citizen's Alerts - Calendar Section

Thursday, March 15
Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM, Livermore Library
1000 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

"Spring" into action in March with Tri-Valley CAREs. Our monthly meeting will include updates on the Scientists' and Engineers' Pledge, the growing opposition to the National Ignition Facility, the DOE budget news and much more. We will share the latest information from Russia, Washington, DC and around the globe on nuclear issues. Come and enjoy an evening sharing ideas with caring, like-minded friends and community members. Long-time and new participants alike are encouraged to attend. Call us.

Thursday, April 5
Tri-Valley CAREs mailing party
7 PM, Tri-Valley CAREs offices
2582 Old First St., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for directions

Here is your invitation to the social event of the season-our Tri-Valley CAREs' mailing party. Join us for food, good conversation and plenty of labels to affix to next month's newsletter. Note: The following month, on May 3, instead of having a mailing party, we will host a round table discussion. Our tentative topic is the plutonium pollution coming from Livermore Lab. Circle the date on your calendar and check next month's newsletter for details.

Friday, April 13
Good Friday Action
"Not by Might"
6:45 AM, gather at Livermore Lab
Corner of East Ave. and Vasco Rd.
(510) 548-4141 or (925) 443-7148

Join folks from Ecumenical Peace Institute, Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore Conversion Project and numerous other groups for this annual Good Friday service and demonstration at Livermore Lab. The event opens with music at 6:45 AM and speakers will begin at 7 AM, followed by a procession to the gates of the Livermore Lab where some will nonviolently risk arrest. Nuclear-related "stations of the cross" will also be offered by EPI. A community gathering and light refreshments will then be provided at Marylia's Rec Room, 5720 East Ave., near Livermore Lab.

Monday, April 16
Tax Day
Leafleting and "Living Billboard"
at East Bay Post Offices
(510) 849-3020 for details

Want to alert your Bay Area neighbors to the high percentage of their tax payment going to the Pentagon and the DOE for weapons and war? Call Women for Peace at the number above to take part in this annual educational action.

Tuesday, April 17
Tri-Valley CAREs board meets
7:30 PM, Tri-Valley CAREs offices
2582 Old First St., Livermore
(925) 443-4372 for more info

Tri-Valley CAREs board meets quarterly and guides the organization's overall development and financial health. Board elections are once a year. Call our current President, Janis Kate, at the number above if you would like information about possibly serving on the board in the future.

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