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Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

Community, Student Groups To Demand UC Regents Disclose Full Scope Of New Plans For "Homeland Security" Biowarfare Research At Livermore Lab's Site 300

Tri-Valley CAREs, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Others to Testify at Regents Meeting

for more information, contact:
Loulena Miles, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Tara Dorabji, Outreach Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Robert Gould, MD. President, SF-Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, (408) 972-7299

WHAT: Testimony before the University of California (UC) Regents Meeting demanding public disclosure and discussion of the UC?s recent ?expression of interest? application to the Department of Homeland Security to place a massive biowarfare agent research facility at Lawrence Livermore National Lab?s Site 300 explosives testing range near Tracy, California.

WHEN: Thursday, May 18 at 9:45 AM

WHERE: UC San Francisco ? Laurel Heights Campus, 3333 California St., San Francisco (map:

WHO: Tri-Valley CAREs, the Livermore-based nuclear watchdog that monitors activities at Livermore Lab, and SF Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of physicians, health professionals and concerned citizens formed to promote policies that protect human health from weapons of mass destruction. Students who are part of the statewide Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California will also testify.

WHY: The University of California (UC), which manages the Livermore nuclear weapons lab for the Dept. of Energy, has quietly answered a Dept. of Homeland Security request for ?expressions of interest? to operate a massive bioweapons agent research facility that requires a minimum of 30 acres.

The proposed facility will include a Biosafety level 4, the highest level of containment, reserved for the deadliest diseases, such as Ebola Virus, for which there is no prevention or cure.

The UC Regents are partnering with Livermore Lab on this project, and they hope to build the major portion of the bioweapons research center?a facility twice the size of a Walmart store?inside the gates of a super secret nuclear weapons facility at Livermore Lab?s high explosive testing range, called Site 300, in Tracy.

Nuclear weapons work at Site 300 has made it one of the nation?s most contaminated sites. Pollutants in soil and water include radioactive tritium, uranium-238, Volatile Organic Compounds, PCBs, Furans, Dioxins and perchlorate.

Community groups are disturbed that the Regents did not publicly discuss this dangerous plan before submitting the application. Tri-Valley CAREs has formally asked for the application to be released through the California Public Records Act. The Regents have not released any documents and, according to the group?s staff attorney, are out of compliance with the law?s mandatory response times.

?It is truly egregious that the Regents are keeping the public in the dark about these dangerous plans in violation of California?s Right to Know laws? said Tri-Valley CAREs Staff Attorney Loulena Miles. ?A bio-lab of this size with the deadliest agents known should not be sited in a highly populated area. This could be an environmental time bomb for the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley. Moreover, mixing bugs and bombs at Livermore Lab would have major international implications.?

Siting a high level bioweapons research facility inside of a nuclear weapons lab is unprecedented. There is widespread belief that placing advanced biodefense laboratories inside nuclear weapons labs sends a message to other nations that the US could be using ?biodefense? as a smoke screen for a bioweapons program..

?Plans to site BSL-3 or BSL-4 facilities at Livermore Lab?s Site 300 or other locations for the purposes of experimenting with biologic agents of potential significant animal or human pathogenicity should be opposed as they could undermine the Biological Weapons Convention and lead to the development of new offensive capabilities,? said Robert Gould, MD., President of the SF-Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). ?There is a need for complete transparency as regards proposed organisms to be used, and tests to be performed to avoid infection of workers and the surrounding community, and to guarantee that experiments do not contribute to a new biological arms race that places the world at serious risk.?

This new proposed bioweapons facility that the UC submitted an expression of interest for would be in addition to the BSL-3 facility proposed at Livermore?s main site. This BSL-3 research facility?if operational?would aerosolize and genetically modify deadly agents including live anthrax. The facility has not yet begun operation in part due to a lawsuit filed in August of 2003 by Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico that is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

According to Homeland Security, the new bio-facility may replace the aging Plum Island lab that was built in the 1950?s in New York. Originally Plum Island belonged to the Dept. of Agriculture, but it was transferred to Homeland Security in 2002. Among its capabilities, Plum Island studies deadly diseases in livestock like cattle, sheep and swine. In addition to the UC-Livermore Lab bid, various institutions in thirteen other states submitted applications to house this facility.