Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 21, 2006
Nuclear "Watchdogs" Partner With College, Clean Energy Firm To Prepare "Green" Management Bid For Livermore Lab
Team Pledges to Transform Troubled Nuclear Weapons Lab into "Center for Civilian Science"
for more information, contact:
Tri-Valley CAREs, Tara Dorabji or Marylia Kelley, (925) 443-7148
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, (505) 989-7342
Today, a leading Livermore Lab "watchdog" organization announced that it has joined forces with one of the state's premier independent colleges, a clean energy company and a New Mexico non-profit to prepare a bid to manage the troubled Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), currently managed by the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) held a morning news conference to discuss its plans just before the UC Board of Regents meeting at the University's San Francisco Mission Bay campus. The group has partnered with the New College of California, Nuclear Watch of New Mexico and WindMiller Energy to prepare what the bidders promise will be "a creative, forward-looking and feasible 'green' proposal to manage Livermore Lab."
"Our innovative bid will promote world class science by transforming Livermore Lab from a nuclear weapons design facility into a center for civilian science," explained Tara Dorabji, Outreach Director for Tri-Valley CAREs, which has monitored Livermore Lab activities for 23 years. "By focusing on socially-beneficial scientific initiatives like sustainable energy, global warming and environmental cleanup technologies, our bid will increase cutting edge research at the Lab and provide the greatest degree of security and safety proposed by any management team." According to the DOE Lab Tables, 85% of Livermore Lab's current budget request is earmarked for weapons activities. Less than 1% is earmarked for energy conservation.
"The mission of the New College of California is to create a just, sacred and sustainable world," explained Martin Hamilton, President of New College. "By bidding to manage Livermore Lab, we bid for a more sustainable future, a future that is not chained to nuclear weapons. The role of academic institutions in science should not be to create weapons of mass destruction, but rather to seek sustainable solutions for humankind."
"One of our goals is to illuminate options for Livermore Lab management that are available to all bidders," stated Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director. "Our bid will demonstrate how to increase transparency, improve health and safety provisions for workers and communities, strengthen whistleblower protections, and provide incentive points for bringing more civilian science to Livermore," Kelley said. "We challenge the UC-Bechtel consortium to show how they, if chosen, will accomplish these same tasks."
"We fear our competitors will propose more 'business as usual' and dysfunctional management at Livermore Lab, with continued cost overruns at the National Ignition Facility, safety violations in the plutonium facility and dwindling resources allotted to the basic sciences," Kelley continued.
"Livermore Lab, located in a world-class wind resource area with ample solar resources, boasts an unrivaled team of world-class scientists, coupled with state-of-the-art equipment and support," explains Barry Miller, President of WindMiller Energy. "Therefore, Livermore Lab is uniquely situated to play a leading role in research, development and testing of renewable energy resources, such as those generated by wind and sun."
Since 1952, Livermore Lab has been managed by the University of California under a "no bid" contract. After repeated security and fiscal management scandals, DOE decided in April 2003 to open competition for the Livermore contract. Prospective bids for the Livermore contract are due to the Dept. of Energy by October 12. Selection of the contractor will occur in the winter of 2006. The current LLNL contract expires on September 30, 2007.
Scott Kovac, Operations Director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, explains further, "We look forward to focusing on environmental science and renewable energy technologies to ignite a new future for the Lab and wean Livermore Lab off of nuclear weapons. We are thrilled to join with the New College of California, WindMiller Energy and Tri-Valley CAREs."
Additional support for transitioning Livermore Lab to a civilian science mission came from students, UC faculty and a leading Livermore Lab scientist. Said Dr. Hugh Dewitt, an astrophysicist employed at Livermore Lab for 5 decades: "The next Livermore Lab management contract should detail a phase out of classified work over a 5-year period. Plutonium operations should cease, and the material safely removed. Livermore Lab can most effectively serve our country by undertaking urgent, non-military endeavors, a task for which it is superbly equipped." DeWitt continued, "I applaud Tri-Valley CAREs and its bidding partners for bringing these issues to the forefront of the contract debate."
THE FOUR "GREEN" BIDDING PARTNERS AT A GLANCE:
Tri-Valley CAREs was founded in Livermore in 1983 to monitor activities in the DOE nuclear weapons complex, with a special focus on the nearby Lawrence Livermore Lab. The group's 4,800 members work to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, ensure cleanup of the Cold War legacy of radioactive and toxic pollution, safeguard the environment from further contamination, and enhance worker and public participation in decision-making. (www.trivalleycares.org)
New College of California is committed to education in support of a just, sacred, and sustainable world. New College cherishes intellectual freedom, the search for social justice, respect for differences, and a belief in collective responsibility for the welfare of all people. (www.newcollege.edu)
WindMiller Energy was begun in 1990 to promote and distribute wind and related energy technologies and information to small and mid-sized users. The company provides equipment and the technical details needed for user communities to maintain it optimally.
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico provides information to the public on nuclear issues in the Southwest and encourages effective citizen involvement around these concerns. The group promotes environmental protection, safe disposal of radioactive wastes, and federal policy changes to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons. (www.nukewatch.org)
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