Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
For immediate release: December 3, 1999
CITIZEN GROUPS TO DEMAND HALT TO CONSTRUCTION
LIVERMORE: A court ordered public hearing, resulting from a lawsuit by 39 plaintiff groups, will focus on the construction and operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's biggest project in history, the National Ignition Facility (NIF).
The hearing will take place Wednesday December 8th, from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the South Cafeteria of the Livermore Lab, located off East Avenue between Vasco Road and Greenville Road in Livermore. A coalition of citizens' organizations involved in the lawsuit; Livermore's Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), the Oakland-based Western States Legal Foundation and The Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, will call for a halt in construction of the facility at the hearing.
The public hearing centers on the NIF, currently under construction at the Livermore Lab, one of the nation's three nuclear weapons design centers. The NIF, a stadium size complex slated to be the world's largest laser, is mired in controversies including over $300 million in hidden cost overruns, serious technical problems and international treaty implications.
"The Department of Energy (DOE) has already wasted nearly a billion dollars on the NIF," charged Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs. "The NIF is in deep trouble and Lab officials are claiming that they can get it back on track. But it's not just off track-- it's beset by major unresolved technical difficulties involving optics (glass), target fabrication (radioactive fuel pellets), and diagnostics. We're going to use this hearing to demand that DOE step back and take a comprehensive look at NIF's problems before spending any more taxpayer dollars."
In 1997, 39 peace and environmental groups, represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a major lawsuit in Federal court challenging the Stockpile Stewardship Program, a $4.5 billion a year program to replace underground nuclear tests with high-tech experimental laboratory facilities and supercomputers. The centerpiece of the program is the NIF, a laser driven fusion device designed to create micro-second, contained thermonuclear explosions. Its primary function is to conduct weapons research.
According to Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation: "The Nonproliferation Treaty requires the U.S. to end the arms race and to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons. But the NIF and Stockpile Stewardship are meant to ensure that nuclear disarmament does not occur, no matter what, and to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons superiority indefinitely. This 'nukes forever' program violates international law and undermines U.S. nonproliferation goals. How can we tell other countries to forgo nuclear weapons while we invest billions of dollars in our nuclear weapons infrastructure?"
For more information, contact Tri-Valley CAREs at (925) 443-7148 or Western States Legal Foundation at (510) 839-5877. To sign up in advance to speak, contact the Dept. of Energy toll-free at 1-877-388-4930. You may also sign up at the meeting, though advance registration is requested by DOE.
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