Reading Room

Citizens Watch Newsletter November 2006

Landmark Legal Victory!

by Loulena Miles
from Tri-Valley CAREs' November 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

In the last issue of Citizen's Watch, you read that an emergency motion had been filed to prevent the Energy Dept. from opening a bio-warfare agent research facility at Livermore Lab before the 9th Circuit Court had a chance to rule in our underlying lawsuit. Here is your update - and it contains GOOD NEWS.

Just after we filed our motion to stay the introduction of deadly pathogens at the bio-lab, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its final decision in our landmark lawsuit - and the court found in favor of our argument that additional environmental study was needed before the facility could open. This decision follows three years of litigation in the federal courts, a lot of hard work, and growing public outcry against this dangerous bio-warfare agent research facility.

To all of you, our friends and supporters, who signed letters, came to meetings, helped write legal filings and sent us checks to keep the lawsuit going - we thank you. And, we invite you to take this moment, smile broadly and celebrate with us. WE DID IT.

What We Prevented - And How

The Biosafety Level-3 facility was designed to conduct aerosol experiments and genetic modifications using lethal pathogens such as live anthrax, plague, botulism and Q fever. The Dept. of Energy (DOE) had omitted any study of security risks and terrorist threats to the facility on the basis that such an analysis was not required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The 9th Circuit Court upheld our contention that DOE acted illegally in omitting that analysis.

Two plaintiff organizations, Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, demanded that the DOE conduct a thorough study of the project's potential environmental impacts - including potential terrorist threats.

In its decision, the 9th Circuit remanded the environmental review back to the DOE for further analysis on terrorism risks, and possibly a full environmental impact statement, before the facility can operate.

"We are thrilled that the court sent the DOE back to the drawing board on this ill-conceived plan," stated Marylia Kelley, the Executive Director at Tri-Valley CAREs. "This is a huge victory for the safety of Livermore residents and the entire Bay Area."

"This court's decision marks a turning point for DOE decision-making, ensuring that potentially dangerous facilities cannot open without a stringent review," said Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney Loulena Miles. "Now the agency cannot merely cry National Security and avoid hard questions concerning environmental impacts and terrorism risks."

If the DOE had opened the facility, it would have marked the first United States collocation of bio-warfare agent research and nuclear weapons - potentially weakening the international Biological Weapons Convention.

As we go to press, the DOE has not yet said how it will comply with the court's ruling. DOE has 3 basic options - (a) try appealing the 9th Circuit's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, (b) augment its original assessment with the analysis now required by the court, or (c) decide to conduct a full environmental impact statement. (Of course, the DOE has a fourth option -- it could announce it no longer seeks to open such a facility. But, while that's the best outcome, we are not holding our breath.)

At a minimum, there will be a public comment period and possibly a public hearing before the bio-facility can move forward. We will continue to monitor DOE, and, at the opportune moment, we will prepare informational materials and call upon you to submit comments.

What can you do today? Call elected officials to inform them of the legal victory - and request that they write a letter asking DOE to drop the bio-warfare agent research facility altogether.

In sum, celebrate our legal victory, yes, absolutely, but keep up the pressure, too.

Inside, please find your invitation to a regional "bio-convergence" on November 13 to prevent an even bigger bio-warfare agent research facility at Livermore Lab's Site 300 - and to change Bush's ill-conceived biodefense policy nationally.

New GREEN, LLC Bids to End Nukes

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' November 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Imagine Livermore Lab without plutonium and weapons research. Consider a "green" laboratory with major new initiatives in global warming research and renewable energy. On October 27, 2006 a first step was taken...

The Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC submitted a bid to take over the management contract and move the Livermore nuclear weapons lab in a radical new direction to better meet present day national security priorities for energy independence and nuclear nonproliferation.

The Livermore Lab GREEN (Green Renewable Energy and Environmental Nexus), LLC consists of two nuclear "watchdog" organizations, Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, partnered with New College of California and a green energy firm, WindMiller Energy. The four incorporated as a Limited Liability Company on October 4, 2006 to comply with the Dept. of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) bidding requirements.

"Our management proposal is both innovative and complete," said Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs. "I expect that NNSA will be reluctant to consider genuine change. However, in our view, that is exactly what is required. The country deserves more than it is presently getting from its national labs."

In addition to the GREEN team, two nuclear weapons contracting giants submitted management bids. The nuclear weapons "business as usual" proposal was submitted by the Livermore Lab's present manager, the University of California, now partnered with Bechtel Corp. and several other weapons contractors.

Weapons maker Northrop Grumman submitted a last-minute bid, joined by Nuclear Fuel Services, Wackenhut and other familiar faces in the nuclear weapons complex. Northrop Grumman recently beat out Bechtel to win the management contract at the Nevada Test Site.

Markedly different from what either of the death merchants will offer, the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC management proposal would transition Livermore from nuclear weapons development to an unclassified "World-Class Center for Civilian Science" within 5 years. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium would be removed in 4 years.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), which is over budget and still under construction at Livermore Lab, would be modified in size and opened as a research tool for astrophysics, earth sciences, materials science and other unclassified uses. The Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC bid expressly prohibits presently planned experiments at the NIF with fissile materials (e.g., highly enriched uranium, plutonium-239).

Further, the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC bid contains numerous management reforms to improve worker health and safety at Livermore Lab. The proposal creates an Office of Whistleblower Protection as well as an Ombuds Office. "We emphasize worker and community participation in our management strategy," explained Kelley, "And, we challenge the other two bidders to show how they would accomplish this goal."

The GREEN team also vowed to bring Livermore Lab programs in on time and on budget, and they chose Dr. Robert Civiak as their Lab Director. As Kelley told reporters, "Dr. Civiak is a physicist with the broad experience in science and budget planning needed to guide Livermore Lab into new missions and a brighter tomorrow."

Among his credentials, Dr. Civiak was the Budget Examiner for DOE's nuclear weapons programs in the White House Office of Management and Budget for more than a decade. "I would apply my experience to reduce the wasteful duplication of effort at Livermore and the other nuclear weapons laboratories," Civiak explained.

Nuclear Watch of New Mexico's Scott Kovac added, "There is simply no need for new nuclear weapons designs. Our management will use the tax-payers' hard earned dollars in a positive way to provide for a secure future for all humankind instead of merely funding a few weaponeers."

A copy of the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC bid (in the form of a transmittal letter and 7 PDF docs, including an organizational chart) is available at The UC-Bechtel group and Northrop Grumman have refused to make their proposals public. We challenge them to do so.

The NNSA will pick a new Livermore Lab manager in spring 2007. Stay tuned.

"Bombplex 2030" to Build New Nukes

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' November 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Dept. of Energy (DOE) has just released a "Notice of Intent" to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for a massive reorganization and refurbishment of the nuclear weapons complex. This giant shift in operations is being offered as a supplement to the 1996 Stockpile Stewardship and Management PEIS in an attempt to mask the scale of the proposed changes.

In reality, DOE's "Complex 2030" is reminiscent of the worst of the nuclear bomb proposals of yesteryear; Dr. Strangelove bursting forth into the 21st Century.

Activists are calling the plan "Bombplex," and pointing out that the nation should be headed toward disarmament long before the year 2030, not a scheme to revitalize nuclear weapons production capability in order to manufacture the new Reliable Replacement Warhead, which will potentially drive a new nuclear weapons arms race.

In testimony to Congress in April 2006, DOE's Tom D'Agostino said, "we seek an ability to design, develop, certify and begin production of refurbished or replacement warheads within 48 months of a decision to begin engineering development - these timelines would restore us to a level of capability comparable to what we had during the Cold War."

At a time when the Non-Proliferation Treaty is in danger of unraveling, it is madness to propose rebuilding the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not a viable foreign policy and will only make the world more dangerous.

The stated goals of Complex 2030 include:

  • Production of Reliable Replacement Warheads, a series of new nukes starting with the design of a new submarine-launched nuclear warhead. The RRW program envisions a new weapon design every 5 years and the production (actual building) of more than 100 new nuclear weapons each year.

  • A new plutonium pit (bomb core) production facility, capable of making 125 pits per year. This would be for a single shift, multiple shifts could reach the Cold War levels of Rocky Flats.

  • More dismantlement of old bombs.

  • Consolidation of special nuclear materials used in weapons to fewer sites in the complex and fewer locations within the sites to reduce the cost of security.

Tri-Valley CAREs asks its members to please come to the public hearings in Livermore and Tracy on December 12. Hearing locations, times and more information can be found on the flier, here.

Tell DOE that new nuclear weapons are dangerous, polluting, expensive, immoral, provocative and contrary to our disarmament obligations. Tell the DOE that you support dismantling nuclear weapons and consolidating nuclear materials in order to store them more safely -- but not to use them elsewhere in new bomb projects as is currently envisioned.

Citizen's Alerts

from Tri-Valley CAREs' November 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Please see the calendar section of our website for the most current events!

Holiday Wishes

from Tri-Valley CAREs' November 2006 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

From our board and staff: We are always inspired by the care you give the earth and its inhabitants. We wish you peace and many joys this holiday season. We hope you can join us at our Volunteer & Member appreciation party December 7th -- invitation here.

Back to Citizen's Watch Index