Reading Room

for immediate release Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, (510) 839-5877
Bob Schaeffer, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, (239) 395-6773


As U.S. House and Senate negotiators begin working out details of the nation's nuclear weapons and nuclear energy spending plan for the coming year, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) and Western States Legal Foundation have endorsed a report identifying nearly two billion dollars in programs that should be cut by conferees to enhance national security and protect the environment.

"Top Ten Department of Energy Radioactive Pork Projects in the 2006 Budget" was delivered to Congress today by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of groups from communities near U.S. nuclear weapons facilities. The Livermore, California-based Tri-Valley CAREs and Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland have been ANA member organizations since 1989.

"This report identifies seven nuclear weapons and three nuclear energy projects that waste taxpayers' money and escalate, not ameliorate, the nuclear dangers we face," explained Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and author of the pork report's chapter on the National Ignition Facility, which is one of the top ten recommended cuts.

Kelley continued, "The conferees should halt all programs supporting the research, design, production and testing of new nuclear weapons as well as those that subsidize the nuclear power industry. Some of the savings should be used to fund cleanup projects essential to protecting public health and the environment."

Significant policy differences involving billions of dollars remain between the House and Senate nuclear spending plans. The House struck all funding for research into a new nuclear bunker buster slated to be developed at Livermore Lab and a plutonium bomb plant while significantly reducing appropriations for new plutonium fuel manufacturing. The Senate cut money for the National Ignition Facility, a controversial weapons research facility, and a radioactive waste dump.

The DOE proposals targeted for elimination by Tri-Valley CAREs, Western States Legal Foundation and ANA member groups and their projected costs in the coming federal budget year include:

  • Life Extension Program ($348 million), which seeks to extend indefinitely the lifetimes of weapons in the existing Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal and to improve their military capabilities.

  • Reliable Replacement Warhead ($9.4 million), which duplicates work performed under the Stockpile Stewardship Program and could encourage the development of new nuclear weapons designs.

  • Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator ($8.5 million), which will be ineffective for many military targets, cause substantial radioactive fallout, and undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals.

  • Modern Pit Facility ($7.7 million), an unnecessary new, multi-billion dollar factory to manufacture plutonium triggers, an activity that has produced massive contamination in the past.

  • Enhanced Nuclear Testing Readiness ($25 million), a provocative plan to prepare the Nevada Test Site to resume full-scale underground nuclear explosions on 18 months notice.

  • National Ignition Facility ($142 million), the multi-billion dollar Livermore Lab weapons design project, which has been plagued by cost overruns and technical problems.

  • Tritium Production ($87.5 million), to produce additional quantities of the radioactive gas used to boost weapons' yields even though the current inventory is sufficient for more than a decade.

  • Plutonium Fuel Fabrication ($338 million), designed to manufacture nuclear reactor fuel from plutonium, ignoring implications for the environment, health, proliferation and homeland security.

  • Yucca Mountain ($651 million), the much-delayed radioactive waste dump for which the Environmental Protection Agency just issued controversial health protection standards.

  • Nuclear Energy Revival ($191 million), subsidies underwriting expansion of the nuclear power industry, transportation of its radioactive wastes, and extraction of plutonium from used fuel rods.

The analysis supports cuts made by the House of Representatives in the Life Extension Program, Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, Modern Pit Facility, Test Readiness, and Plutonium Fuel Fabrication as well as the Senate's elimination of construction money for the National Ignition Facility and cuts in Yucca Mountain funding.

"Tri-Valley CAREs has long advocated the termination of new nuclear weapons development world-wide and has consistently opposed the tools that allow U.S. nuclear weapons designers to continue this deadly pursuit, such as the National Ignition Facility here at Livermore Lab," said Kelley. "New plans at the NIF include experiments using plutonium, highly enriched uranium and lithium hydride, which will expand its nuclear weapons design capabilities. The NIF construction funding should be cancelled, saving $142 million in 2006 - and $30 billion over the coming years," Kelley stated.

Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, asked: "How can the Bush Administration threaten military action against Iran while at the same time modernizing its own nuclear warheads and delivery systems and more thoroughly integrating nuclear weapons into its global warfighting plans?"

Cabasso concluded, "A national debate on the future role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy is desperately needed and long overdue. The ANA 'Radioactive Pork' report can provide impetus for such a debate. I welcome the report and its conclusions."

"Implementing the ANA recommendations would save taxpayers almost two billion dollars immediately and billions more over the coming years," agreed Cabasso and Kelley. "This report should help conferees understand that money could be better used to address the environmental and health legacy of nuclear weapons production and to reduce the federal deficit."

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The ANA Radioactive Pork report is available online at:

Chapters analyzing each of the proposed cuts are online at:

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