2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: marylia@earthlink.net
Date: 8 Jul 2002 13:52:20 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Will You Be Silent and Let Them Develop New Nukes? LLNL SWEIS
Will You Be Silent and Let Them Develop New Nukes?

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

Amid plans to develop new, earth-penetrating nuclear bombs, build a
bloated mega-laser and start up a local anthrax lab, it so happens that 
the meter has run out on Livermore Lab's National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) coverage. NEPA is the nation's most fundamental environmental 

Livermore Lab's NEPA operating document is called a Site-Wide
Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS), and the last one, completed in 
1992, is now a decade old. On June 17th, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) 
National Nuclear Security Administration announced its intent to prepare 
a new SWEIS to "evaluate the environmental effects of the operation of 
the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)." The DOE's Federal 
Register notice goes on to "encourage public  involvement on the scope 
[issues] and alternatives" that the new document should consider.

Your Opportunity to Speak.

Public meetings will be held on Wed., July 10, 2002 and Thurs., July 11, 
2002. The July 10 meetings will be in Livermore at the Double Tree Club 
(formerly Holiday Inn), 720 Las Flores Rd. The meetings will begin at 1 
PM and 6 PM. On July 11, the public meetings will be held in Tracy at 
the Holiday Inn Express, 3751 N. Tracy Blvd. The start times are 1 PM 
and 6:30 PM. The DOE has a toll-free number (877) 388-4930. Verbal and 
written comments will both be accepted. Tri-Valley CAREs will staff an 
information table at the Livermore and Tracy meetings.

Where to Send Written Comments.

To ensure their inclusion in the official record, written comments must 
be postmarked on or before August 13, 2002. Mail them to: Mr. Thomas 
Grim, Documents Manager, U.S. DOE, Oakland Operations Office, 1301 Clay 
Street #700N, Oakland, CA 94612-5208. 

Talking Points

This is the beginning stage of the NEPA process, called "scoping."
Simply put, scoping means that the public is being asked to comment on 
the issues it expects the document to cover. Moreover, NEPA requires 
that the document analyze alternatives to a facility's current plans.

The SWEIS being prepared on the operation of Livermore Lab is slated to 
analyze programs for 10 years into the future. Therefore, it is
appropriate to insist that it cover more than "business as usual" at 
LLNL. In essence, the SWEIS gets to the question of Livermore Lab's 
mission and provides an opportunity to tell the government what the Lab 
should and should not be doing over the next decade. Further, it is our 
chance to demand a careful assessment of LLNL's past, current and 
potential future harm to our health and environment. Here are some 
issues to raise:

* LLNL Plans for an Anthrax Lab. Livermore Lab proposes to obtain a "BSL 
III" permit, which would allow it to handle anthrax, botulism, bubonic 
plague, small pox and other deadly bio-toxins on site. It is appropriate 
to demand a thorough evaluation of the hazards a BSL III lab could pose 
to workers and the community. Additionally, questions could be raised 
regarding the fine line between "defensive" and "offensive" or military 
applications of research on anthrax and other biologic agents. Should 
anthrax research take place at a classified nuclear weapons lab? Should 
it take place in a heavily populated area?

* New, Classified "Nuclear Technology." According to the DOE notice,
LLNL will build an entirely new "Nuclear Technology" facility. This new 
"project" will be described only in a classified appendix to the SWEIS. 
The 1992 SWEIS did not contain a classified appendix. None of LLNL's 
bomb design programs requires a classified appendix, not even the 
earth-penetrator. So, what could be so deeply classified it cannot even 
be named in the SWEIS? Some evidence suggests the Lab may be engaging in 
"dirty bomb" research and that the new "project" may involve building 
them. If this is true, is Livermore the appropriate place? In any event, 
it is important to insist that the SWEIS contain an unclassified 
description of the proposed project and a full accounting of its 
potential hazards.

* National Ignition Facility. NIF will allow weaponeers to continue
research on new and "modified" nuclear weapons. Additionally, NIF will
be used to test the effects of a nuclear weapon explosion on hardware 
(like satellites and nearby weapons). Therefore, NIF will be part of the 
Lab's "Star Wars" research. Should the NIF be completed or abandoned? 
Livermore Lab is developing plans to use plutonium, highly-enriched 
uranium and large amounts of lithium hydride in NIF experiments. These 
radioactive and toxic materials would be in addition to the radioactive 
tritium that, along with deuterium, will be NIF's "fuel." Plutonium, 
uranium and tritium from past Lab operations have  polluted our 
environment. What will the future hold
with NIF?

* Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative. Livermore Lab operates
ASCI "white," the world's second largest super computer and has plans 
for "purple"-- an even bigger machine. Livermore's Sandia Lab just broke 
ground for a third huge computer complex, the 70,000 square foot 
Distributed Information Systems Lab. These computers and other behemoth 
mega-machines are enormous drains on our water (for their cooling 
systems) and energy resources. In California these are particularly 
precious -- and the SWEIS should include a full accounting of LLNL and 
Sandia's projected water and power use.

* Earth-Penetrators and Other New Nukes. LLNL is "modifying" the B83 to 
give it the ability to burrow into the earth before detonating. LLNL is 
also modifying the W80 (a nuclear warhead that sits atop
submarine-launched and air-launched cruise missiles) along with several 
other weapons designs. Should this work continue? What would a full 
accounting of the hazards of new bomb development include?

* Accidents, Spills, Leaks and Fires. Since its last SWEIS in 1992, when 
it promised no future impacts, Livermore Lab has continued to put its 
workers, the public and the environment at risk. Examples include 
uranium fires, a filter-shredding accident that contaminated workers 
with curium, a chlorine gas leak that forced an evacuation, tritium 
accidents, an explosion that sent one employee to the hospital, 
plutonium that had to be cut out of a worker's hand-and more. The new 
SWEIS must include a  rigorous analysis of the potential threats posed 
by Livermore Lab operations with hazardous
and radioactive materials.

* Plutonium & Uranium. Livermore Lab's current administrative limit for 
weapons-grade plutonium is 1,540 pounds, and the Lab's stock is
reportedly at or near that maximum limit. In the 1992 SWEIS, LLNL 
announced a goal of substantially reducing its inventory of plutonium. 
That has not happened. Livermore Lab may have more plutonium today than 
in the average years of the 1990s. Moreover, in 1999, LLNL announced 
plans to raise its administrative limit for enriched uranium from 660 to 
1,100 pounds. At the same time, the limit for uranium ore rose to 6,600 
pounds. The SWEIS should
analyze the potential impacts of these increases. Moreover, it should
include the LLNL programs that use these radioactive materials so the
public can comment on whether some LLNL programs should be canceled.

* Security Problems. Are the nuclear materials at LLNL secure from theft 
and/or attack? Numerous experts say they are not. Lab employees have 
told us that LLNL management mishandled a bomb threat in the Lab's 
plutonium facility. Furthermore, the former President and Vice-President 
of the LLNL Security Police Officers Assn. have brought "whistleblower" 
lawsuitsagainst the Lab, charging that they were fired for bringing 
serious security deficiencies to the attention of LLNL and DOE 
management. The SWEIS should analyze a series of scenarios to determine 
the security (or lack thereof) of nuclear materials at LLNL.

* Earthquakes. LLNL is situated within 200 feet of the Las Positas
fault, very near the Greenville fault, and in close proximity to other 
faults capable of generating high magnitude earthquakes. After the 1980 
quake on the Greenville fault, LLNL sustained more than $40 million 
dollars in damages and a tritium leak. The Greenville fault had, until 
then, been classified as an "inactive fault." At the Lab's site 300 in 
Tracy, the Elk Ravine fault cuts across Lab property amidst a 
heavily-contaminated groundwater plume. The earthquake analyses in prior 
LLNL environmental documents have been incomplete. Moreover, the 
populations of Livermore, Tracy and the Bay Area have swelled since 

* Alternatives Analysis. As mentioned above, by law the SWEIS must
contain an analysis of alternatives. The Federal Register notice 
discloses that Livermore Lab plans to gloss over this key requirement. 
Only three generic alternatives are listed: One, the "no action 
alternative," will consider all current activities along with unnamed 
"interim actions." In other words, DOE defines no action as "business as 
usual." The second is called a "proposed action alternative." It 
incorporates the "business as usual" alternative and adds possible 
plutonium use in NIF and the mysterious new
"defense technologies" project to the mix. The third is called a
"reduced operation alternative," but DOE says this doesn't mean 
decommissioning LLNL. There is very little description of what DOE 
thinks it does mean.

So, it's up to us to outline our alternatives for analysis. How about
LLNL as a "green lab" devoted to peaceful and environmentally friendly
science? What about site 300? Should open air tests with high-explosives 
and radioactive materials at site 300 continue? Or, should activities 
there be limited to cleanup and civilian programs? These and other 
questions must be placed squarely on the table.

It's your future, your community and our one, fragile Earth. What do you 
want to see happen in the next ten years?


Marylia Kelley
Executive Director,
Tri-Valley CAREs
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA 94551
Phone: 1-925-443-7148
Fax: 1-925-443-0177
Web site: http://www.trivalleycares.org is our new web site address.
Please visit us there.

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