Reading Room

Citizens Watch Newsletter September 2002

IN THIS ISSUE...


Peace Comes to Livermore

by Tara Dorabji from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2002 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

"It is never too late, it is never too early, the time is now," chanted MCs Wilson Riles and Patricia St. Onge throughout the August 3 rally to stop the development of new, earth penetrating and other nuclear weapons at Livermore Lab. The rally in downtown Livermore commemorated the victims of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and empowered people of all ages to say "never again" to nuclear weapons and war.

Some 500 folks converged in Carnegie Park, shaded by maple trees. Throughout the day, rally speakers gave eloquent voice to a movement based on principles of nonviolence and seeking the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. Clan Dyken and the Funky Nixons got their groove on, and the crowd danced while Food Not Bombs provided delicious vegan food.

More than 60 peace and environmental groups supported the action; some local, some coming from as far away as Salinas and Mendocino. Their booths filled the park and offered petitions, newsletters, cool signs, T-shirts and stickers.

The shaded park was hard to leave, but nearly 300 participants marched the sun-drenched three miles up East Ave. to the Lab. The Catholic Worker provided lemonade along the way, while the Peace and Freedom Party drove shuttles from the park to the Lab for those who could not march.

"No nukes;" the chants were varied, the songs many, and the banners held high as onlookers honked and waved support. The message was clear -- the community would not be silent and allow the further development of nuclear and other weapons.

The police blocked vehicle access to East Ave. between Vasco and Greenville, creating an intimidating presence as the march approached. As hundreds gathered, Clan Dyken began drumming from the center. Surrounded by police, people came together in a circle dance -- symbolizing an unending commitment to peace and healing for the earth, living our connection.

54 people came forward and "crossed the line," risking their personal freedom to expose the deadly research happening on the other side of the fence. The day ended with the sun low in the sky and a feeling of unity in nonviolence emanating from the crowd into the Lab, the City of Livermore and beyond.


They Have Plans, So Do We!

by Ann Seitz
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2002 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

I wish I could tell you today the toils and troubles of the activist are over, and that we can all soon walk in the sunshine of peace. Instead, I tell you of the preparations Tri-Valley CAREs made for its campaigns and programs at the group's annual strategic planning retreat, held at Holy Redeemer Center on August 10.

Attended by a wonderful mix of Tri-Valley CAREs' volunteers, board, staff and new and long-time members, the day-long retreat celebrated our recent triumphs -- like stopping the shipments of plutonium to Livermore Lab in unsafe containers and getting cleanup funds reinstated to address polluted soil and groundwater emanating from the Lab. We also identified where we must continue to operate against the follies of biological warfare, new nuclear weapons, an open-ended "War on Terrorism," and the continued toxic pollution of our earth.

Keeping the positive energy flowing, we played "Musical Nukes." Winning board member Janis Kate dismantled one of the "weapons" and found chocolate kisses inside, instead of nuclear material. Each retreat participant was given a sunflower, a symbol of peace, and an origami crane, symbol of peace and health, as a token of regard from Tri-Valley CAREs.

From retired teacher Ena Aguirre to computer expert Jon Hart to first time attendee (and historian) Fred Wood, all took part in an exercise to identify the varied "threats" and "opportunities" that help or hinder the success of Tri-Valley CAREs' work for peace, justice and a healthy environment. This helped guide us in setting our priorities in the afternoon. Then, what was meant to be a simple potluck lunch developed into a fabulous banquet with many homemade delicacies.

We began our afternoon discussion with the "big picture" and moved to "particular details." Of the 10 program areas chosen for next year, several emerged as requiring particular attention. One is the bio-warfare agent facility the Lab is seeking to build. The Lab is also attempting to resuscitate its Plutonium-Atomic Vapor Laser Isolation Separation technology, a program Tri-Valley CAREs defeated more than a decade ago. We will also concentrate on countering Bush's Nuclear Posture Review, educating the community, stopping the National Ignition Facility, winning Lab cleanup and continuing "Project Exodus," which, among other things, dissuades science and engineering students from accepting employment on nukes.

The fast and dynamic discussions of the day gave us a good foundation on which to build -- and so we swung into action for another year!


The Lab's 50th: Our View

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2002 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

As Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory spends a bushel of tax-dollars on official hoopla to mark its 50th anniversary - including a new tri-color logo, a paid newspaper section containing a scrubbed-clean Lab history and a community day replete with panel presentations - the most visible commentary on the institution's half-century of nuclear weapons development will be found on a billboard at the intersection of Portola Ave. and I-580.

There, on the town's only full-sized, lighted commercial billboard, visitors, residents and Lab employees alike will see the huge, steel gray portals of the National Ignition Facility target chamber jump out from a bright yellow vinyl backdrop. Giant red lettering invites viewers to consider NIF's relationship to advancing nuclear weapons science. Then, speaking directly to Lab workers, it admonishes: "Your Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste."

The 11 by 24 foot billboard will remain standing through the bulk of the Lab's anniversary festivities, until Sept. 23.

More than 24,000 people will see it each day, including many Lab staff who live in town or commute home to other communities in the Tri-Valley and beyond. "We created the display so that Lab employees and their families will see it and discuss the issues it raises," explained Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director, Marylia Kelley. "We aim to actively discourage a second 50 years of nuclear weapons development at the Lab."

"The true history of Livermore Lab is a two-fold tale - containing both the narrative of the making of horrific nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and, inextricably linked, the still partly-hidden account of the accidents, spills, leaks, explosions and fires that have spewed toxic and radioactive materials into the community," charged Tara Dorabji, the group's Outreach Coordinator.

"Many in our community want to see a 'Green Lab' grow in its place, not more weapons and pollution," Tara concluded.

The controversial NIF mega-laser, under construction at Livermore Lab, will be used to train a new generation of nuclear bomb designers, according to Livermore Lab and Department of Energy reports. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Tri-Valley CAREs calls on the scientists, engineers and other workers at Livermore Lab to renounce nuclear weapons and "make history possible."


Tri-Valley CAREs in the News...

The following profile of Tri-Valley CAREs appeared in the Contra Costa Times newspapers, including the local Valley Times, on August 4, 2002. Since then, a number of our members have told us that they enjoyed reading it. So, below, we have reprinted the main article (out of three). To receive the complete packet by mail, including photos and a sidebar on the lawsuits we have filed (and won!) over the past two decades, please call Ann at the Tri-Valley CAREs office: 925-443-7148.

"... Anti-Nuclear Protesters Strive to Keep Lab Accountable"

by Andrea Widener, Contra Costa Times

Three years ago, at a tense hearing on the fate of a laser project $2 billion over budget, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's most faithful watchdogs were represented by two speakers. First was Marylia Kelley, the articulate, ardent head of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment. Kelley, with flowing, gray-blond hair and rippling skirts, packed her five minutes with critical questions about damaged laser glass, reasons the superlaser will not work, and doubts about its need. Afterward, a second member walked to the mike. Instead of notes, he pulled out a recorder and mixed music with a poem on the danger of nuclear weapons. The contrast is one observers of the Livermore-based group have seen often.

Founded in 1983 at the height of the last national anti-nuclear surge, the group initially relied on protests and parades to fight the lab's nuclear weapons work. They still employ those methods, but members have embraced new ways to take on the nuclear weapons complex and its environmental issues. It has sued the lab and its overseer, the Department of Energy, 10 times. It has espoused science -- commissioning studies and technical reports -- to fight the lab with its own language. It has used environmental law to keep the lab accountable. And members have become experts at testifying at growing numbers of public hearings.

Tri-Valley CAREs is the only group that has consistently kept a watchful, and skeptical, eye on the lab. Its strategy, combined with tight relationships with grass-roots groups nationwide, has brought it many successes. The highlight remains the scrapping of a lab waste incinerator in the late '80s, a cause that rallied many more demure community members around the group and gave it legitimacy. More recently, a group lawsuit halted the shipment of plutonium in inadequate containers from Colorado to the lab and South Carolina.

Not everyone likes CAREs. Many locals support the lab; with 7,500 full-time workers, it is by far the city's largest employer. Inside the lab, many are dismissive and say its tactics aren't based on reality but speculation on lab doings. Kelley is generally unfazed by the criticism. She has heard it all during decades as a volunteer, then sole employee, and now director of the four-person staff. She remains focused, though with the Bush administration's decision to design new weapons and perhaps return to nuclear testing, her goal must seem as far away as ever. "I think the fact that someone is watching the laboratory has made a difference in how the lab operates," she said. "And it has made a difference in the community feeling more empowered and understanding that it has a right to clean soil, clean air, clean water."

Peaceful Expression

Last month, a small group of members sat in their second-floor office, fanning themselves to ward off the 100-degree heat. The window air conditioners drowned out the quiet speaker, a new Livermore resident and yoga instructor who was discussing ideas linking yoga and the peace movement. Gathered around the table on cushioned folding chairs was a sample of Tri-Valley CAREs members: an 18-year-old Livermore resident, a San Ramon college student, a former lab worker, an older woman in a flowing dress, a former resident and Kelley. Discussion ranged from how to achieve inner peace to the importance of loving those whose ideas you oppose -- in this case, the weapons designers down the street.

It began as a strictly anti-nuclear group, but CAREs chose to be diverse in its programs and goals. As the larger peace movement shrunk after the Cold War, CAREs and other local groups have picked up some slack. They host monthly meetings, publish a newsletter, man booths at local events, build parade floats, and organize petition drives. They hold community meetings about issues such as radiation and health, as well as brown-bag lunches to reach out to lab employees. The most visible events are still protests at lab gates...

"I think there are many, many ways for people to try to get involved," Kelley said. "As an organization, Tri-Valley CAREs tries to make all of these opportunities for expression available."

The money -- about $300,000 this year -- comes mostly from foundations and donations. CAREs also has two federal grants. The first is a three-year $50,000 technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help fund work on lab environmental cleanup (a Superfund site because of groundwater contamination). The second, $50,000 a year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, funds health education meetings with two other Bay Area groups.

CAREs currently has about 3,600 "members," about half of whom are local, who attend meetings, donate money, or volunteer at protests or brochure mailing parties. But when most people think of CAREs, they think of Kelley. A single mom who moved here in 1976, she was there at the beginning, and is one of the few who haven't drifted away over time.

A trained journalist, she is the group's most visible spokesperson on every issue and at every hearing. Smart and savvy, she has traveled to other U.S. weapons sites and to Washington to build coalitions. She has been to Japan and Russia to meet her counterparts. She leads protests, organizes meetings, talks to reporters, and at times even answers phones. "She is the connective fiber for sure, and a large chunk of its institutional memory," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director at the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a coalition of more than 35 U.S. and Russian member groups including Tri-Valley CAREs.

Kelley's apartment, less than a mile from the lab, gradually became the meeting place and storage for hundreds of boxes of documents and reports the group has gathered. When her son grew up and moved out, the office moved from the hallway to his room. Three years ago, CAREs got its first real office, on the upper floor of a small Victorian near downtown -- now decorated with strident bumper stickers, postcards from members, pictures of events and a massive ivy.

Back in the office, with the sun casting a glow in the still-warm setting, CAREs members not only think about the peaceful intentions of yoga, but also try it out for themselves. They stretch flat on the floor, arms in the air, taking deep breaths and thinking peaceful thoughts. Hard to imagine Lawrence Livermore's meetings ending on such a relaxing note.

Complaints and Praise

In many ways, Tri-Valley CAREs' ups and downs have mirrored the fate of the anti-nuclear movement. The peace movement began almost immediately after World War II began, in an attempt to stop the development of more weapons. It had a wave of popularity and success in the late '50s and early '60s. Tri-Valley CAREs rose during the third and most recent wave, in the late '70s and early '80s. "There is this tendency with a lot of movements. They win a couple big victories, but they don't follow through," said Stephen Zunes, chairman of the peace and justice studies program at the University of San Francisco. This leaves local groups to do the work many did before.

One of the biggest complaints from those outside the lab is that Tri-Valley CAREs says it represents the community, when, in fact, it is supported by only a fraction. "They definitely represent a community, but it is not specifically this community," said former Mayor Cathie Brown, who said she sees mostly support for the lab. There are similar feelings at the lab. Some employees have outright animosity for CAREs, which they say exaggerates or outright lies about lab actions. Others have grudging respect for Kelley's ability to tackle complicated lab issues head-on -- from cracked laser glass to nuclear weapons deployment to solvents in the groundwater. A few, at least according to Kelley, are even underground members.

In one area, at least, Tri-Valley CAREs and lab officials have reached an understanding. Management in the lab's weapons and laser programs chose not to comment, but lab environmental cleanup leaders say they have a good working relationship with the group. As they walk through the lab, pointing out pumps that remove contaminated groundwater, Bob Bainer and Lindee Berg say the relationship started out a little adversarial, but that it has grown cordial, even respectful.

Bainer and Berg lead cleanup efforts at the lab's main site and have worked with Kelley for years. Solvents once used by the Navy, the site's first government occupant, and later by the lab, had seeped into groundwater... Tri-Valley CAREs has even helped the lab several times by lobbying Congress for money for constantly threatened cleanup budgets... "If I want to know really what the latest is on where our budget looks like it is going, Marylia is about the best person to talk to," Bainer said. "She does her homework, and she certainly supports what we are doing."

Kathy Setian, who oversees the lab site for the EPA, is so impressed with Kelley and Tri-Valley CAREs' environmental work that she nominated it for a national community groups award, which it won. "She has educated herself about all of these technical and policy issues so that she can converse about them as well as anybody else, and she is typically very reasonable in discussing it," Setian said. "The role (CAREs) plays is exemplary in providing tough but reasonable comments and questions that I think have helped DOE and the regulators."

Modern Dilemmas

Tri-Valley CAREs shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, things may be easier now than in the past. "The end of the Cold War means that it is not as tempting to see Tri-Valley CAREs as enemies of the state because we are not in a life-or-death struggle with communism anymore," said Hugh Gusterson, an MIT anthropologist who has studied the lab. But the modern peace movement faces a dilemma, said Bryan Taylor, a professor at the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, who is writing a book about the cultural images of nuclear history... "They have been through a number of shocks in the last couple of years, but it is important to remember that as dispiriting as those shocks are, it also galvanizes those groups to continue to engage an increasingly powerful opponent."

Observers say the current environment -- with a Republican president and renewed interest in nuclear weapons -- may create more interest in peace groups. "I think we may be seeing the start of another wave of the anti-nuclear movement," Zunes said. "And this time, they can't accuse us of being communists like they did before." CAREs hasn't been able to stop the nuclear weapons work, but it continues to strive. Kelley and members aren't deterred by the recent turnaround in the lab's fate.

It isn't going to be easy going, though. Just last month, the group lost its table at the Livermore farmers market after organizers said it was a political group. They are still fighting that one. Members say they will be around as long as the lab designs weapons -- even if Kelley herself isn't around anymore. "Step by step, everybody in the group has had to learn beyond anything that they thought they would want to learn," said Ilene LaLand, a former Livermore resident who returns to help raise funds. "We have to let our community know we have not gone away."


Atomic Workers Seminar

from Tri-Valley CAREs' September newsletter, Citizen's Watch

If you or someone you know has been made ill by nuclear weapons activities, join us for this important seminar on the federal compensation program for atomic workers. Join four non-profit nuclear watchdog organizations for an

INFORMATIONAL "BROWN BAG" SEMINAR

to talk about the compensation program for Department of Energy employees, contractors and other atomic weapons workers who have suffered on the job exposure to toxic chemicals or radioactivity and have become ill.

STRAIGHT ANSWERS FOR SICK WORKERS

* Find out the eligibility requirements for workers and family members;
* Get the facts on what the program covers and what it does not;
* Learn the criteria by which the government will evaluate claims;
* Discuss how the determination will be made of the likelihood that your illness arose from your employment;
* Explore what happens if it is not feasible to estimate your dose;
* Find out how to navigate the paperwork involved in filing a claim;
* Get an opportunity to ask questions and meet other radiation workers;
* Learn about obstacles to compensation; and
* Discuss how to best overcome them and improve the program.

Richard Miller and Attorney Clare Gilbert from the Government Accountability Project will explain the compensation program. A discussion will follow the presentation.

WHEN: Thurs., Sept. 12, NOON - 1 PM

WHERE: Livermore Laboratory's Visitor Center Auditorium, Greenville Rd. entrance. This is an "open" area, easily accessible to Lab employees and the public. Bring a "Brown Bag" lunch, refreshments provided.

SPONSORS:

* Tri-Valley CAREs
* Western States Legal Foundation
* Physicians for Social Responsibility, SF Bay Area Chapter


Print Bites: All the News That Fits to Print

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2002 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

### Hold Your Bombers, Bush. As Nelson Mandela and other international notables blast President Bush for his plans to attack Iraq, and Secretary of State Colin Powell and others in the administration take a more reasoned UN inspection-first stance, the American people have an opportunity to stop the U.S. government's mad rush to (more) war. Tri-Valley CAREs has joined groups across the country to initiate a national call-in campaign, beginning Sept. 9 and continuing throughout the week. Call California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Representative Ellen Tauscher immediately via the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them bombing Iraq will not make us safe. Tell your elected representatives that we need a foreign policy based on the force of law - not the law of brute force.

### A Little Light Shines. During "DC Days" and after, many of you spoke up to stop the development of new, earth-penetrating nuclear weapons. We have some progress to report. The House Defense Authorization approved $15 million for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). But, the Senate did not. Therefore, the issue will be decided in conference committee, which is scheduled to take place later this month. If the RNEP is not funded in the Defense Authorization conference committee, it will likely not receive funding in the Appropriations side of the budget process. In sum, this would be a great win for peace and disarmament advocates. However, unfortunately, it would not mean that all work on earth-penetrating nukes would stop. Livermore and the other DOE weapons labs will get about $6 billion overall for nuclear weapons R&D in 2003.

### Yucca Madness. The House and Senate voted to override Nevada's veto and proceed toward opening a high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, on Western Shoshone ancestral land adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. While this is bad news, the fight to stop the dump is far from over. The State of Nevada is pursuing legal options, as are several non-governmental organizations. The DOE must still apply for a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And, the NRC must review and approve the Department's application (about a four year process, and one requiring public hearings). Given the serious technical questions that surround the plan to site 77,000 tons of waste under Yucca Mountain, nothing is certain. Stay tuned.

### Return to Sender. You may have read about the accident involving a truck containing a shipment of transuranic nuclear waste traveling from the DOE's Idaho lab to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Here is the latest news. When WIPP officials opened one of the shipment's two outer packs, they found radioactivity where it isn't supposed to be, outside of the inner waste container. Officials told the Twin Falls (Idaho) Times News that they can't determine whether the contamination "resulted from the collision or another source" (read maybe it's the highway accident, or maybe Idaho packed it wrong - neither option is very comforting). The DOE is sending the nuclear waste back to Idaho. Activists want the shipment to travel under guard and for DOE to halt all shipments to WIPP while it investigates the cause of the leakage.

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