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Minorities threatened by atomic weapons plants in S. Carolina and NM, groups say

April 21, 2021
Source:
The State News

By Sammy Fretwell,

A coalition of environmental groups from the southern and western United States is threatening to sue the federal government over plans for plutonium pit factories in South Carolina and New Mexico that would produce components for additional atomic weapons.

In a letter Tuesday to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a non-profit law firm said the government should prepare an extensive environmental study before deciding to establish pit production factories at the Savannah River Site near Aiken and the Los Alamos site near Santa Fe, N.M.

African American and Native American communities have been hurt by past activities at the nuclear sites, and President Joe Biden’s administration should consider how the production factories would add to that burden, according to the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, a non-profit legal service in South Carolina.

Nine environmental groups, including SRS Watch, the Gullah Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Tri-Valley Cares of California and Nuclear Watch New Mexico, are among those seeking more study.

The law project’s letter also was sent to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the energy department.

“The plans of DOE and NNSA to expand this production program will saddle the already-burdened communities represented by these groups with a significant amount of nuclear waste and pollution,’’ the letter from lawyer Leslie Lenhardt said.

Her letter said the pit production efforts are in “complete contravention’’ to an executive order by President Biden that federal agencies weigh the impact their policies and plans have on disadvantaged communities.

SRS Watch, Tri-Valley Cares and Nuclear Watch New Mexico intend to take legal action within 60 days if the government doesn’t reconsider its decision not to conduct the extensive environmental review the groups want. The study they are seeking is known as a programmatic environmental impact statement.

“The federal government appears ready to embark on this significant change in U.S. nuclear policy without studying the cross-country risks and environmental justice impacts, which indicates that the health and safety of workers and downwind and downriver communities are not worth the consideration or protection they deserve,’’ Lenhardt said in a news release Wednesday morning.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy was not immediately available to discuss the letter about the pit factories, which in South Carolina alone could produce 1,000 jobs.

SRS boosters say the plant is needed to help the economy and provide for the national defense.

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The Investing in Cures Before Missiles Act

April 16, 2021
Source:
The Independent News

“With all of the global challenges we face, the last thing we should be doing is giving billions to defense contractors to build missiles we don’t need to keep as a strong nuclear deterrence” - this according to California Congressman Ro Khanna, who recently joined Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey to introduce the Investing in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Act to the House and Senate.

The measure would stop funding on the proposed new missile known as the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD), projected to cost $264 billion over its lifetime, and stop spending on a linked Livermore Lab nuclear warhead modification program, the W87-1. Monies would be redirected to extending the life of an existing intercontinental ballistic missile, the Minuteman III and a study commissioned on how best to do that.

The bill transfers $1 billion in funding for the GBSD to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid) for development work on a universal coronavirus vaccine to address the virus’s many variants. It would also divert money from the LLNL based program to modify the W87-1 nuclear warhead to fit the GBSD and dedicate it instead to research and preparations to combat future bio-threats.

Sen. Markey states, “The United States should invest in a vaccine of mass prevention before another new land-based weapon of mass destruction”. “The ICBM Act signals that we intend to make the world safe from nuclear weapons and prioritize spending that saves lives, rather than ends them.”

After the past year of pandemic, this is a sentiment many of us can, and hopefully will, support. For more information on this and related issues, visit, www.trivalleycares.org.

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Good Friday Swords into Plowshares participants call for abolition of all nuclear weapons

April 7, 2021
Source:
People's World

By Marilyn Bechtel,

LIVERMORE, Calif.–Nuclear disarmament activists in the San Francisco Bay Area gathered virtually on April 2 to honor a nearly four-decades-long tradition, the Good Friday Swords into Plowshares Worship and Witness at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the two sites where every nuclear warhead and bomb in the U.S. arsenal is designed.

This year the agenda focused on two very different developments – on one hand, the nuclear weapons being developed at Livermore Lab and their catastrophic potential, and on the other, new legislation now before Congress, and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, often called “the Ban Treaty,” so far signed by 86 countries and ratified by 54, none of them possessing nuclear weapons.

Setting the stage was Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (TriValleyCAREs), who addressed the gathering from the West Gate of the lab, as scientists and support workers entered to start the morning’s work.

Livermore Lab uses over 85% of the funding it gets from the U.S. Department of Energy for nuclear weapons, Kelley said. By comparison, less than 2% of the funding is for science, and less than 1% goes to research into energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Therefore,” she said, “when I speak to you this morning about what goes on inside this classified fence line, it’s fitting to begin with Livermore Lab’s central role in driving a new and dangerous global arms race.”

Heading the list is a new warhead, the W80-4, intended to enable pilots to launch a precisely guided, radar-evading nuclear weapon thousands of miles away from its target. “By any measure, she said, “Livermore’s new warhead for this long-range standoff capability is a first-strike offensive weapon.”

Livermore is also developing the W87-1 warhead, which Kelley said is “the first fully-new warhead design since the announced end of the Cold War 30 years ago,” and a new submarine-launched warhead, the W93.

Adding to the bad news, over the years TriValley CAREs has documented the release of more than 1 million curies of radiation into the surrounding air, and soil and groundwater at the Lab and its Site 300 high explosive testing range are so polluted they are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Superfund sites.

On the positive side, Kelley said, Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., have just introduced into Congress the Invest in Cures Before Missiles, or ICBM Act. The measure would halt further development of the Pentagon’s new ground-based strategic deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile and the W87-1 warhead it would carry, redirecting funding to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine and other research on emerging diseases.

Kelley urged all participants to press their members of Congress to support the new legislation and to use the “fresh opportunities before us, to change the direction of U.S. nuclear policy and move instead to the abolition of nuclear weapons … Together, we can do this, we can make this paradigm shift.”

Jackie Cabasso, executive director of Western States Legal Foundation, told of being at United Nations’ headquarters in New York City last July to witness the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by a majority of the world’s countries.

“Watching countries vote, by 122-1, to prohibit the possession, development, testing, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons was a thrilling moment,” she said, “but it was bittersweet.”

While the Ban Treaty represents the total repudiation of nuclear weapons by most of the countries that don’t possess them, Cabasso said, the U.S., the eight other nuclear states, and others under the U.S. nuclear umbrella boycotted the talks, and the U.S., United Kingdom, and France declared after the vote that they would not sign, ratify or ever become party to the treaty.

In the decades since World War II, she said, U.S. national security policy has focused consistently on deterrence – the threatened use of nuclear weapons – even as geopolitical conditions and presidential styles, have changed.

“Today, more than 13,000 nuclear weapons, most an order of magnitude more powerful than the U.S. atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 91% of them held by the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable danger to humanity, and the dangers of wars among nuclear-armed states are growing.”

At the same time, ever since the very first United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1946 established a commission of the Security Council “to assure the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction,” nuclear weapons have repeatedly been declared illegal in international law. And in fact, the original nuclear-armed states – the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China – pledged in the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treatyy “to pursue negotiations in good faith” to end the nuclear arms race at an early date and achieve nuclear disarmament.

Western States Legal Foundation has been engaged in the work leading to the 2016 UN General Assembly resolution that called for negotiation of the Ban Treaty, Cabasso said. “But our work is far from done.” With multiple national and global crises, including nuclear weapons, climate change, systemic racism, the growing wealth gap, and rising national authoritarianism sharing the same foundational causes, “we are unlikely to prevail on any of them as single issues.”

Cabasso called on all participants in the Good Friday action to become involved in the Poor People’s Campaign, which she said is taking up Dr. Martin Luther King’s unfinished work and weaving the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, environmental devastation, militarism, and the war economy into one moral fusion campaign, and calling in its Moral Budget for U.S. military spending to be cut in half.

In a moving homily that paid tribute to the victims and survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the Rev. Michael Yoshii of Alameda’s Buena Vista United Methodist Church, observed, “For those of the Christian faith, we know that Jesus came to empower the marginalized and the powerless, and to challenge those who wielded the power of weapons and of empire. It is only fitting that those nations that have no nuclear weapons are the ones to call upon those wielding the power and threat of weapons, to put those weapons away so that we can live in peace in this world.”

Coordinating the event on behalf of initiating organizations Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy & Laity Concerned and Livermore Conversion Project were Carolyn Scarr and Carl Anderson. They were joined by more than two dozen cosponsors.

Among many helping to lead the observance were Farha Andrabi Navaid, Mountain View/Palo Alto Musalla; musician Betsy Rose; Rev. Max Lynn, St. John’s Presbyterian Church/Berkeley; liturgical dancer Carla De Sola; social justice and indigenous activist Patricia St. Onge and Janet Cordes Gibson, EPI/CALC.

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Groups ask Biden for wider environmental review of nuke work

February 17, 2021
Source:
The Washington Post

By Susan Montoya Bryan,

Associated Press

Watchdog groups want the Biden administration to reconsider a decision by a U.S. agency not to conduct a more extensive environmental review related to production of the plutonium cores used in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

The renewed request comes as federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina face a deadline of making 80 cores per year by 2030, with the first 30 due in five years.

With jobs and billions of dollars in spending at stake, the effort to modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress over the years, especially among New Mexico Democrats whose districts stand to benefit from the economic windfall. The Biden administration has taken swift action to reverse some policies by the Trump administration but has yet to say whether it plans to push ahead with making more plutonium cores. It does say that work is being reviewed.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico, South Carolina-based SRS Watch and California-based Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment sent a letter to the U.S. Energy Department last week, asking that a rigorous environmental review be done before production is ramped up at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina.

The groups have cited provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, saying plutonium core production would significantly increase the amount of radioactive and toxic wastes generated at the two locations and that the collective environmental effects need to be considered.

“We are hopeful that a review of programs with significant environmental impacts under NEPA will return to normalcy with the new presidential administration,” said Leslie Lenhardt, an attorney with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, which is representing the groups.

She said the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration have a new opportunity to revisit their Trump-era refusal for a more thorough environmental review.

The nuclear security agency said in an email to The Associated Press that the issues raised by the groups were considered during previous public participation opportunities.

The agency opted last fall to prepare a supplemental analysis of an environmental review done for Los Alamos more than a decade ago despite criticism that ramping up production at the lab goes beyond those initial plans and should be reexamined. A separate review was done for Savannah River.

National Nuclear Security Administration spokeswoman Ana Gamonal de Navarro said the decisions were consistent with the agency’s legal obligations and there has been no guidance to revisit the decisions amid the presidential transition.

But she also noted that it’s common for programs and activities to be reviewed under new leadership.

“NNSA’s approach to plutonium pit production will be included in this review process,” she said. “Until such a review is completed, NNSA will continue its current overall pit production timeline and strategy.”

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez’s office said the New Mexico Democrat feels strongly that the federal government should do everything possible to protect the health and wellness of Los Alamos employees and the rest of the community.

“They must ensure that the public has confidence in the lab’s safety and all environmental impact decisions are done according to the law, science and are in the best interest of New Mexican families and stakeholders,” said Maria Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the new congresswoman.

The city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County in January passed resolutions seeking further study.

Watchdog groups have raised concerns about contamination if new plutonium warhead factories are established in New Mexico and South Carolina that resemble the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, which had a long history of leaks, fires and environmental violations and needed a $7 billion cleanup that took years to finish.

The mission of producing the plutonium cores began at Rocky Flats in the 1950s and was eventually moved to Los Alamos in the late 1990s. Dogged by safety problems and concerns about a lack of accountability, production at Los Alamos has happened in fits and starts over the years. It’s been shut down at times, and only a handful of prototypes were made in fiscal year 2019.

The cost of the work also has spurred criticism. A 2019 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that expanded pit production plans could cost up to $9 billion over the next decade but that the estimate was very uncertain. The Government Accountability Office last year pointed to National Nuclear Security Administration and independent studies that have cast doubt on the agency’s ability to prepare the two planned factories in time.

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Nuke groups pressing Biden administration for more pit production environmental review

February 17, 2021
Source:
Aiken Standard

By Colin Demarest

A coalition of nuclear watchers and nonprofits is again lobbying the federal government to conduct a more rigorous environmental review of plans to produce nuclear weapon cores in South Carolina and New Mexico, this time hoping the new administration is more amenable.

Savannah River Site Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Tri-Valley CAREs, represented by the the S.C. Environmental Law Project, in early February sent a letter and supporting documents to the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration outlining grave concerns and allegations of cut corners.

The watchdog trio has for years pushed back against expanded plutonium pit production, generally casting it as warmongering, and expensive at that.

“We are providing you with a consolidated package of the previously submitted documents to ensure that this new administration is immediately aware of the serious environmental and human health risks associated with a significant expansion in pit production, and has immediate access to these documents,” attorney Leslie Lenhardt wrote Feb. 10.

The group is seeking a programmatic review of the department’s 2018 plutonium pit production proposal — a comprehensive, cumulative analysis of the cross-country endeavor’s environmental repercussions. A lesser, fragmented approach, Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley said, can obscure risks and costs.

The fact that an attorney is involved suggests the watchdogs are willing to sue. While hopes are high the Biden team listens, SRS Watch Director Tom Clements said in a statement, legal action remains an option.

“Our clients, in seeking to reach a solution that avoids a lawsuit under NEPA, welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further, and request that you keep us apprised of the agencies’ direction on this issue,” Lenhardt similarly stated in her letter, using shorthand for the National Environmental Policy Act.

Federal law mandates the production of 80 pits per year by 2030 — a significant challenge, as the U.S. has for awhile lacked the means to craft the key warhead components in great quantity. (The last place to produce pits en masse, the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, was scuttled following an investigation and raid.)

To satisfy the demand for pits — suspect in the first place, groups have argued — the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Defense in May 2018 recommended establishing and turbocharging production at two complexes across two states: the Savannah River Site, south of Aiken, and Los Alamos National Lab, near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

At SRS, the never-finished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility would be mothballed and repurposed, the NNSA and Defense Department counseled. At Los Alamos, PF-4, a plutonium facility, would be expanded upon and upgraded. Billions upon billions of dollars would be spent.

A two-pronged approach, SRS Watch and its companions argue, is a radical departure from what has been studied before, mandating additional evaluation.

“Whatever they decide,” Kelley said, “a project is always safer, less expensive, more efficient and better if you look at all the risks up front.”

Both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, have promised a wide-ranging review of the U.S. nuclear modernization portfolio, though that evaluation is more aimed at spending and efficiencies. Austin did not explicitly back the two-state pit production solution when asked by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Groups ask Biden for wider environmental review of nuke work

February 17, 2021
Source:
Minneapolis StarTribune

By Susan Montoya Bryan / AP

Watchdog groups want the Biden administration to reconsider a decision by a U.S. agency not to conduct a more extensive environmental review related to production of the plutonium cores used in the nation's nuclear arsenal.

The renewed request comes as federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina face a deadline of making 80 cores per year by 2030, with the first 30 due in five years.

With jobs and billions of dollars in spending at stake, the effort to modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress over the years, especially among New Mexico Democrats whose districts stand to benefit from the economic windfall. The Biden administration has taken swift action to reverse some policies by the Trump administration but has yet to say whether it plans to push ahead with making more plutonium cores. It does say that work is being reviewed.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico, South Carolina-based SRS Watch and California-based Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment sent a letter to the U.S. Energy Department last week, asking that a rigorous environmental review be done before production is ramped up at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina.

The groups have cited provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, saying plutonium core production would significantly increase the amount of radioactive and toxic wastes generated at the two locations and that the collective environmental effects need to be considered.

"We are hopeful that a review of programs with significant environmental impacts under NEPA will return to normalcy with the new presidential administration," said Leslie Lenhardt, an attorney with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, which is representing the groups.

She said the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration have a new opportunity to revisit their Trump-era refusal for a more thorough environmental review.

The nuclear security agency said in an email to The Associated Press that the issues raised by the groups were considered during previous public participation opportunities.

The agency opted last fall to prepare a supplemental analysis of an environmental review done for Los Alamos more than a decade ago despite criticism that ramping up production at the lab goes beyond those initial plans and should be reexamined. A separate review was done for Savannah River.

National Nuclear Security Administration spokeswoman Ana Gamonal de Navarro said the decisions were consistent with the agency's legal obligations and there has been no guidance to revisit the decisions amid the presidential transition.

But she also noted that it's common for programs and activities to be reviewed under new leadership.

"NNSA's approach to plutonium pit production will be included in this review process," she said. "Until such a review is completed, NNSA will continue its current overall pit production timeline and strategy."

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez's office said the New Mexico Democrat feels strongly that the federal government should do everything possible to protect the health and wellness of Los Alamos employees and the rest of the community.

"They must ensure that the public has confidence in the lab's safety and all environmental impact decisions are done according to the law, science and are in the best interest of New Mexican families and stakeholders," said Maria Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the new congresswoman.

The city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County in January passed resolutions seeking further study.

Watchdog groups have raised concerns about contamination if new plutonium warhead factories are established in New Mexico and South Carolina that resemble the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, which had a long history of leaks, fires and environmental violations and needed a $7 billion cleanup that took years to finish.

The mission of producing the plutonium cores began at Rocky Flats in the 1950s and was eventually moved to Los Alamos in the late 1990s. Dogged by safety problems and concerns about a lack of accountability, production at Los Alamos has happened in fits and starts over the years. It's been shut down at times, and only a handful of prototypes were made in fiscal year 2019.

The cost of the work also has spurred criticism. A 2019 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that expanded pit production plans could cost up to $9 billion over the next decade but that the estimate was very uncertain. The Government Accountability Office last year pointed to National Nuclear Security Administration and independent studies that have cast doubt on the agency's ability to prepare the two planned factories in time.

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Atomic weapons plan risky for SC, lawyers say. Noted legal service joins fray

February 12, 2021
Source:
The State

By Sammy Fretwell

A South Carolina legal service has joined the fight against an atomic weapons components factory at the Savannah River Site, raising the possibility that environmental groups will sue the federal government to stop the effort.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project, a non-profit service with an extensive record of arguing cases in court, outlined concerns about the factory in a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Energy. The letter called the proposed factory risky and in need of further study.

At issue is a proposal to build a nuclear weapons pit plant that would use plutonium, a deadly long-lived radioactive material, at the Savannah River Site.

The pit factory would produce potentially thousands of jobs, but is drawing opposition from environmental groups in South Carolina, New Mexico and California.

Savannah River Site Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Tri-Valley CARES recently retained the Environmental Law Project. They say pit factories are expensive, unnecessary, needlessly threaten the environment, and could leave unused plutonium stranded permanently in places like SRS.

President Joe Biden’s administration needs to be “aware of the serious environmental and human health risks associated with a significant expansion in pit production,’’ according to a letter written Wednesday by law project attorney Leslie Lenhardt to the energy department.

Nearly a dozen key members of Congress were copied on the letter, including Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico.

Plans call for producing 50 pits a year at SRS on the site of a failed mixed oxide fuel plant near Aiken not far from the Georgia border. Another 30 pits would be produced each year at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos, N.M., site.

The government says the factories would provide fresh pits to replace the aging ones now used in nuclear weapons, while also providing the stockpile to produce a new type of atomic weapon. Boosters say pit factories are vital to the nation’s defense, although not everyone agrees.

Opponents are asking the government to conduct an extensive study, called a programmatic environmental impact statement, before moving ahead with the effort. Such a study would be more comprehensive than past studies, likely delaying the pit production effort. They are concerned that more than 7 tons of plutonium could be brought to SRS after the state negotiated a deal to rid the site of stranded plutonium.

No decision has been made on whether to file suit because opponents of the pit factories hope the Biden administration will reverse course and scrap the long-discussed proposal. Plans to build the SRS pit factory, on the table since the 1990s, resurfaced while President Donald Trump was in office.

“We would like to avoid a lawsuit, so now the door is open to negotiation with DOE,’’ said Tom Clements, who heads Savannah River Site Watch. “I hope they will step through that door and talk to us.”

If not, filing a lawsuit “remains on the table,’’ Clements said.

Lenhardt’s letter said the groups are “hopeful that you will seek to review the former administration’s failure’ to conduct’’ the comprehensive environmental impact statement.

The S.C. Environmental Law Project has taken on some of the highest profile environmental cases in the state since Pawleys Island attorney Jimmy Chandler founded the service in 1987.

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Time to rethink nuclear chain of command

February 5, 2021
Source:
Pleasanton Weekly

On Jan. 8, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the Pentagon about “preventing an unstable president” from ordering a nuclear strike.

Her concern centered on the un-hindered ability of any U.S. President to launch nuclear weapons. No one else legally, or practically, is in the chain of command. Anyone who fails to carry out such an order risks severe consequences for breaking the law.

Few other countries place nuclear use authority in the hands of one person. Russia does not; its system requires a second vote in addition to its President’s.

Sole authority was considered necessary by the U.S. during the Cold War. However, in the hands of an unstable POTUS, the risk is unacceptable — thus Pelosi’s concern.

We are fortunate no pre-emptive nuclear launch has occurred. However, when it comes to nuclear weapons, depending on luck is no comfort. It’s time to rethink this decision-making process before catastrophic consequences result.

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Jennifer Granholm’s nuke priorities remain hazy

January 29, 2021
Source:
Aiken Standard

By Colin Demarest

In written testimony provided to a Senate panel Wednesday, the new president’s pick to lead the Department of Energy said she would prioritize, among other things, American safety and security.

Doing so, Jennifer Granholm explained in a single paragraph, would mean focusing on the department’s offensive-and-defensive arm, the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the cleanup of Cold War artifacts – pockets of toxic waste, for example, trapped at sprawling installations like the Savannah River Site south of Aiken.

During her confirmation hearing this week, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the latter was discussed at decent length; the Hanford Site in Washington, notoriously difficult and expensive to remediate, was brought up several times, and Granholm pledged not to kick the can down the road. Some might argue such remarks are a rite of passage for Energy Department executives.

The former – the National Nuclear Security Administration, its hefty budget and its myriad missions – was sparsely touched, even with Granholm cracking open the door.

The disconnect, though, didn’t catch observers off guard.

“Given the committee in which the confirmation hearing took place and the fact that she’s not yet up to speed on nuclear weapons issues, it’s no surprise that Gov. Granholm was not asked about key NNSA issues,” said Tom Clements, the director of Savannah River Site Watch, an organization that monitors a host of energy- and nuclear-related issues. “I assume she is receiving briefings on NNSA matters and will soon be fully conversant and able to make informed, sound decisions.”

The committee that handled Granholm’s nomination has jurisdiction over nuclear waste, not nuclear weapons – exactly why Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon broached Hanford and why Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada railed against Yucca Mountain.

“I wouldn’t want to read the tea leaves too much,” said Marylia Kelley, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, which tracks Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the nuclear-weapons complex, more broadly. “I do know that after the hearing I was left with questions.”

The hearing Wednesday, shy of three hours, served as a digestible introduction to Granholm, a two-time governor of Michigan, auto-industry adept and clean-energy advocate. The conversation was heavy on energy sources and fuels, climate change and job losses, a major concern for some lawmakers as President Joe Biden signs a flurry of environmental executive orders. Kelley, though, is anxious to see where the nominee stands on nuclear-weapons issues: new warheads, new cores, modernization spending and the like. Such topics are a rarity on governors’ desks.

“I am hopeful that our new energy secretary will bring a set of skills that will help her make difficult decisions under pressure in a logical and organized fashion,” Kelley said. She later added: “Of course, from my organization’s perspective, I will be looking toward the Energy Department being more skeptical about expanding pit production, both on the question of what we need and on the question of when we need it, and how much we’re going to spend on it and how we’re going to accomplish it. I’m looking for her to be skeptical.”

Indications of priority – what’s important, and how much – will unfurl in budget requests and related budget hearings, said Nickolas Roth, the director of the nuclear security program at the Stimson Center, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“That’s where you usually get more into the weeds on this kind of stuff,” Roth said. His hope, he explained, “is that the Biden administration will look for ways to curtail a very expensive nuclear-weapons modernization program” and strike a better balance with the nonproliferation portfolio.

If confirmed, Granholm would take the reins at a department very much devoted to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration is the largest part of the budget when you figure that environmental management is related to the nuclear weapons mission,” Kelley said. “It’s the lion’s share of the budget, by far.”

The Energy Department’s fiscal year 2021 budget request added to $35.4 billion; the National Nuclear Security Administration earmark totaled $19.8 billion. Of that sum, a vast majority was for weapons activities. (Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, has branded the DOE as the NWD: Nuclear Weapons Department.)

In the weeks before the 2021 blueprint was unveiled, dozens of lawmakers, including three Palmetto State Republicans, lobbied then-President Donald Trump to funnel more money to the NNSA and its weapons work. Insufficient funding, the elected officials wrote, would risk U.S. national security and embolden “anti-nuclear Democrats who oppose your effort to rebuild our military,” a red meat appeal.

Clements, who leads SRS Watch, anticipates Granholm “will make tough decisions reshaping U.S. nuclear weapons policy in a way that increases our collective security while reducing financial costs and reducing reliance on nuclear weapons.”

That remains to be seen.

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Nuclear Weapons – Sole Launch Authority

January 28, 2021
Source:
The Independent News

On Friday, Jan. 8, Nancy Pelosi wrote to fellow Democrats, “This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

Her concern centered on the unhindered ability of the president of the United States to launch nuclear weapons. No one else legally, or practically, is in the chain of command for nuclear launch. Anyone who goes against or fails to carry out such an order risks severe consequences for breaking the law.

Such a system relies totally on the mental and moral wellbeing of the U.S. president. President Trump’s status in that regard has been questioned by many, and he’s not the only POTUS who has caused concern.

In the final days of the Nixon presidency, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger reportedly asked those around President Richard Nixon to inform him before carrying out any military orders, including nuclear ones, issued by the president.

During and since the Cold War, sole presidential launch authority was considered necessary, allowing immediate preemption or retaliation to adversaries should other principals be unavailable. However, in the hands of an unstable, unpredictable POTUS, the risk is unacceptable – thus the concern raised by Pelosi.

Few other countries place sole launch authority in the hands of one person. Even Russia does not.

The Russian system requires a second vote in addition to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s.

America’s system does not require any input or second vote, making it particularly dangerous.

We have been incredibly fortunate, particularly during these past four years, that the power to preemptively initiate a nuclear war has not been used. However, when it comes to nuclear weapons, depending on luck is no comfort.

It’s time to rethink and revamp this decision-making process before catastrophic consequences result. For more information, visit www.trivalleycares.org.

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Treaty to ban all nuclear weapons is now international law

January 27, 2021
Source:
People's World

By Marilyn Bechtel

A major milestone on the long road to ridding the world entirely of nuclear weapons was reached on Jan. 22, as the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons officially became part of international law.

That road began Jan. 24, 1946, when the newly formed United Nations adopted its very first resolution, just months after the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of World War II. Resolution 1(1), which the General Assembly adopted by consensus, established a commission of the UN Security Council to ensure “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”

And among those celebrating the latest step toward their abolition was one who knows from personal experience the catastrophic horrors that even the bombs of 75 years ago – crude and primitive by today’s standards – wreaked on those who experienced their impact.

Setsuko Thurow – then Setsuko Nakamura – was just 13 when the U.S. bombed Hiroshima. Knocked unconscious and pinned beneath a building by the blast, as she regained consciousness she was rescued after a soldier urged her to crawl toward sunlight. Though her parents also survived, she lost a sister and a nephew in the blast, which totally devastated the city. It is estimated that by the end of 1945, as many as 140,000 of the city’s 255,000 people had died as a result of the bombing. Far more were added to that list in the decades that followed.

Thurow, now 88, has lived in Canada for many decades and has dedicated her life to the fight for total abolition of nuclear arms.

“I simply can’t find the right words to express my thoughts,” she told Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – the lead organization in the campaign for the treaty, during ICAN’s global virtual celebration on Jan. 22.

“I am so overjoyed, and at the same time I’m most grateful to all those people who have worked with us … And I always remember at a time like this, whenever we have special moments of victory, or accomplishment, the hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who lost their lives. They paid so much for this, and we made the vow that this would not be in vain … And I think that significant time has come. I intend to continue this until we reach the final goal, the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017 by 122 of the UN General Assembly’s then-192 member countries, bars states party to it from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or letting them be stationed on their territory, or helping, encouraging or pressing anyone to do so.

It also obligates states-parties to help the victims of nuclear weapons activities and clean up resulting damage.

To date, 86 countries have formally signed the TPNW – also known as “the Ban Treaty.” To date, 52 countries have ratified the treaty, and dozens more ratifications are expected, though so far no countries currently possessing nuclear weapons have joined in. In fact, as the all-important 50th ratification letting the treaty go into effect approached last October, the Associated Press revealed the U.S. had written to nations that had already ratified the document, urging them to rescind their action. None have done so.

For its leadership in the campaign, ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

In addition to ICAN’s virtual event, the campaign said over 170 celebrations were held around the world, in nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-armed nations. Among the many celebrations and calls for the U.S. to join the treaty were actions at U.S. nuclear weapons-related facilities, including the Pentagon, nuclear labs at Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Livermore, ballistic missile submarine bases in Washington State, universities participating in nuclear weapon research, and banks and investment firms that engage with the nuclear weapons industry.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Marylia Kelley, executive director of the watchdog organization Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs), was joined early in the morning by dozens of socially distanced participants displaying banners proclaiming, “Nuclear Weapons are Illegal,” to lab workers as they drove through the main gate.

Kelley reminded participants that Tri-Valley CAREs was one of some 600 ICAN member groups that helped negotiate and win backing for the Ban Treaty.

“We are celebrating an historic and momentous day today,” she told them. “This is the aspiration of the world, and today it becomes international law of the world.”

While the fact that the U.S. hasn’t yet signed the treaty limits the legal requirements it faces, Kelley said, it doesn’t extinguish them.

She reminded the crowd that Washington is still not complying with Article VI of the over 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which recognizes the U.S. as a nuclear weapons state but mandates that each party to the treaty “pursue negotiations in good faith” to end the nuclear arms race and negotiate “a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

“Here at Tri-Valley CAREs we will continue our work,” said Kelley. “We will bring the news of the treaty to our elected officials” and “push the administration. We will keep mentioning that nuclear weapons are not a legitimate means of security and in fact make us less safe, and we will do our part in moving everyone toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Headlining ICAN’s virtual event was United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is “the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in more than two decades.”

With nuclear weapons posing “growing dangers,” Guterres told his international audience that eliminating them remains the UN’s “highest disarmament priority.” He called the treaty “an important step” toward that goal and commended the countries that have already ratified it.

The globe-circling participants in ICAN’s celebration each brought a unique perspective to the significance of the Ban Treaty.

South Africa is a case in point. As the apartheid era was ending in the early 1990s, the soon-to-be-replaced National Party government dismantled the country’s small nuclear arsenal, becoming the first government to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons it had developed itself.

Former South African UN Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, who headed her country’s delegation during negotiation of the Ban Treaty some two decades later, spoke of that decision’s great significance in her country’s transition.

“This issue was woven into the vision of the South Africa we wanted in the struggle against apartheid,” she said. The African National Congress and its allies “knew we wanted a peaceful region because apartheid had destabilized it” and nuclear weapons were a central part of that destabilization … It was in the DNA of the African National Congress to denounce nuclear weapons and draw back from their possession.”

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg of Austria – one of just two European countries to ratify so far, the other being Ireland – called it “a great game changer … we are changing the narrative away from nuclear protection, the nuclear umbrella to (focus on) the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons – they cannot protect, they can only destroy.”

To those who doubt the Ban Treaty can succeed, he said it is only necessary to look at the histories of treaties banning cluster munitions, chemical, and biological weapons. “Every time, we were told, you cannot do that. But we still did these conventions and treaties,” and they achieved a change of perception and public awareness.

Pacific Island nations are among many parts of the world that continue to suffer the effects of nuclear weapons testing, having been sites of repeated tests from the mid-1940s to the mid-1990s.

The Republic of Kiribati’s UN Ambassador, Teburoro Tito, told of seeing, as a child, an enormous flash of light from a nuclear weapons test on Christmas Island, some 2,000 miles away. “Nuclear arms states conducted hundreds of tests throughout the Pacific Islands, experimenting on our bodies, irradiating our lands and seas and destroying our cultures … Kiribati is proud to be among the very first states-parties to the TPNW. May this be the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons!”

Among the final speakers, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, D-MA – a longtime leader in Congress for nuclear disarmament – told the global audience, “We must reverse direction and recognize not only the need to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world but eliminate them once and for all time.”

Commending ICAN and the “hundreds of religious, academic, labor, women’s, student, civil society, peace, disarmament and arms control groups” in the U.S. and around the world, McGovern declared, “Together, we can create a nuclear-free future. Thank you!”

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Sensible nuclear policy needed

January 15, 2021
Source:
Tracy Press

Editor,

It is very difficult for me to write something negative about a President of the United States, but President Donald Trump’s behavior has completely derailed in the last week. He shows no sign of acknowledgement of what he did was an attack to our nation. His behavior is unsettling, dangerous, and plain disturbing. Whatever description anyone can come up is nothing less than someone that wants to undermine democracy and unlawfully overturn a fair election.

Following the violent assault on the Capitol on Wednesday, journalists quoted a close Trump aide as saying that the President was “out of his mind.” Additionally, sources close to the President told CNN that Trump’s state of mind was “unstable, ranting and raving” and “bent on destruction in his final days.”

Many Americans worry that in his blatant state of mind, the president could easily order a nuclear strike or initiate military hostilities. He can literally “push the button” and have the largest city of North Korea obliterated.

The new administration should work with Congress to reduce the risks that any future President might start a nuclear war. The U.S. should enact a sensible policy that would prevent the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict and put an end to the President’s sole authority to launch such a strike.

Raiza Marciscano,

Tracy

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CONFRONTING TOXIC POLLUTION

December 8, 2020
Source:
Tracy Press

Tri-Valley CAREs will have a Virtual Community Meeting on Tuesday December, 8th 2020 at 7:30 PM, on Site 300 in Tracy. We will bring attention to and discuss the slow-going Superfund cleanup and the proposed increase in bomb blasting planned for Livermore Lab's nearby Site 300. 

Presenters will include Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director, Scott Yundt, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, and Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, Tri-Valley CAREs' Bilingual Community Organizer.

Nuclear weapons activities at the Site 300 high explosives testing range have resulted in hundreds of documented toxic and radioactive releases to our air, soil, groundwater and surface waters. These activities are ongoing and pose danger to our communities.

The EPA placed the Site 300 in the Superfund list as one of the most contaminated sites in the USA. Site 300 is an 11-square mile experimental test site located southwest of Tracy, joined the list in 1990.

The EPA has calculated that the largest off-site groundwater contaminant plume could affect City water wells. If that occurs, it is estimated to result in an additional one cancer for every thousand residents drinking the water. The cleanup timeframe is multi-generational and will take 50-80 years.

Tri-Valley CAREs experts and staff will offer updates on the plan to increase the size of bomb blasts in the open air at Site 300. We will also discuss the government’s new environmental impact process that will determine which programs get authorized at Site 300 and how much pollution will spew into our communities.

We at Tri-Valley CAREs are open to hearing new strategies and connect with other organizations that may want to work together for the same purpose.

Join us to talk about community concerns, health effects, past actions at Site 300 and alternatives we recommend for the future. For more information visit, trivalleycares.org.

Raiza Bettis,

Livermore

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Virtual forum on bomb blasts being conducted in San Joaquin County

December 5, 2020
Source:
Manteca Bulletin

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

The Livermore Lab, a federal nuclear weapons facility, operates a high explosive testing range, called Site 300, near Tracy. Manteca is downwind. 

The Lab proposes increasing the size and yield of open-air bomb blasts at Site 300 tenfold, from the 100 pounds currently allowed to 1,000 pounds of high explosive compounds per detonation. These blasts involve potential adverse impacts to our air quality. According to Lab data, there will be more than 100 hazardous chemical components in each detonation.

Recently, I brought this issue to the Manteca City Council. I am gratified they are looking into the Lab’s proposal. I have asked them to send a letter of concern.

As Manteca residents, we all have an opportunity to learn more about the proposed bomb blasts at a virtual community meeting. It will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. For details, visit trivalleycares.org.

Phyllis McDonald,

Manteca

To read the full story go to the Manteca Bulletin Section A9 (Right hand click on "Editions", click on 12/5/20 of the calendar and go to page A9)...




Site 300 blast update

December 4, 2021
Source:
Tracy Press

On July 12, 2018, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District held a public hearing in the Tracy City Council Chambers to allow the public to comment on Lawrence Livermore Lab’s proposal to increase the weight of their high explosive compounds in open air blasts at Site 300’s High Explosives Testing Range.

The Lab is asking to increase its currently approved 100 pounds of high explosive compounds per outdoor blast to 1,000 pounds, a 10-times increase.

These blasts involve potential adverse impacts to air quality, noise, encroaching population (including Tracy Hills, Mountain House and other new Tracy housing developments) re-suspension of radioactive particles in soils, and a slow-down of the cleanup needed for the present contamination at the firing site.

Over a year later, we are still waiting for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s decision. As a Tracy resident who testified in 2018, I hope that the District will deny the permit. But there is no guarantee.

Site 300 is located on Corral Hollow Road, less than a mile from the new Tracy Hills housing development and across the street from the Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area and Campground.

Please join me for a community update on this situation at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. For more details, visit Tri-Valley CAREs’ website at trivalleycares.org.

Gail Rieger,

Tracy

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Confronting Toxic Pollution

December 3, 2020
Source:
The Independent

Tri-Valley CAREs will have a Virtual Community Meeting on Tuesday, Dec 8, on Site 300 in Tracy and the Main Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore.

We will bring discuss the Superfund cleanup and the proposed increase in bomb blasting planned for Livermore Lab's nearby Site 300. Presenters will include Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director, Scott Yundt, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, and Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, Tri-Valley CAREs' Bilingual Community Organizer.

 Nuclear weapons activities at the Livermore Lab Main Site and its Site 300 high explosives testing range have resulted in hundreds of documented toxic and radioactive releases to our air, soil, groundwater and surface waters. These activities are ongoing and pose danger to our communities.

Both locations are federal "Superfund" sites. The EPA placed the Livermore Lab Main Site, an over one square mile site located on East Avenue in Livermore on its list of most poisoned sites in the country in 1987. Site 300, an 11 square mile experimental test site located southwest of Tracy joined the Superfund roster in 1990.

The EPA has calculated that the largest off-site groundwater contaminant plume could affect city water wells. If that occurs, it is estimated to result in an additional one cancer for every thousand Livermore residents drinking the water. The cleanup timeframe is multi-generational and will take 50 to 80 years or more.

Tri-Valley CAREs experts and staff will offer updates on the plan to increase the size of bomb blasts in the open air at Site 300. We will also discuss the government’s new environmental impact process that will determine which programs get authorized at Site 300 and how much pollution will spew into our communities.

Tri-Valley CAREs needs you for a citizen-led effort. We can be a motivating force by sending letters to the editor, reaching out to real estate brokers, sending memos, etc. Together, all of us in the community decide how clean is clean. We at Tri-Valley CAREs are open to hearing new strategies, and we ask for help to connect with other organizations that may be willing to include some of this information in their activities.

Join us to talk about community concerns, health effects, past actions at Site 300 and alternatives we recommend for the future. For more information visit, trivalleycares.org.

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis,

Livermore

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Site 300

November 19, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

Site 300 is an 11-square mile experimental test site in the hills southwest of Tracy. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed Site 300 on its ‘superfund’ list, one of the most contaminated sites in the country. For decades, open air high explosives tests have released toxins into the air, soil, and water putting Site 300 and nearby communities at risk.

Recently, Livermore Lab and its parent agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration, have undertaken a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) to analyze operations at the lab’s main site in Livermore and its Site 300 near Tracy over the next 15 years or more. This is the time for community involvement.

Join a virtual community meeting, at 7:30 p.m., on Dec. 1, to discuss early identification of concerns, potential impacts, relevant effects of past actions and possible alternative actions. For information on how to attend, visit trivalleycares.org

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Site 300: Confronting toxic pollution

November 13, 2020
Source:
The Pleasanton Weekly

Site 300 is an 11-square mile experimental test site in the hills southwest of Tracy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed Site 300 on its "Superfund" list, one of the most contaminated sites in the country. For decades, open-air high explosives tests have released toxins into the air, soil and water putting Site 300 and nearby communities at risk. 

Recently, Livermore Lab and its parent agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration, have undertaken a new site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) to analyze operations at the Lab's Main Site in Livermore and its Site 300 near Tracy over the next 15 years or more.

This is the time for community involvement. Join a virtual community meeting, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 1, to discuss early identification of concerns, potential impacts, relevant effects of past actions and possible alternative actions. For information on how to attend, visit trivalleycares.org

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Treaty banning all nuclear weapons will become international law

October 27, 2020
Source:
People's World

By Marilyn Bechtel

A historic moment in the decades-long struggle for total nuclear disarmament was reached Oct. 24, United Nations Day, as Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted by 122 members, or nearly two-thirds of the UN General Assembly’s then-192 members, in July 2017.

The treaty bars its signatories from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing them to be stationed on their territory, or helping, encouraging or pressing anyone to do so. It will now enter into force on Jan. 22, 2021.

So far, 84 countries have formally signed the treaty, and more countries are expected to ratify it.

In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the countries ratifying the pact. He said its entry into force “is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty,” and “represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons … the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” 

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which has led efforts for the treaty, called Honduras’ ratification “a historic milestone,” noting that before the treaty came into being, nuclear weapons were the only mass destruction weapons not banned under international law. “Now, with the treaty’s entry into force, we can call nuclear weapons what they are: prohibited weapons of mass destruction, just like chemical weapons and biological weapons.”

Saying the treaty’s entry into force marks “a new chapter” in the struggle for nuclear disarmament, ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn added, “Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned.”

ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work to bring the treaty into existence.

The world’s nine nuclear-armed nations and many of their allies boycotted the talks that led to the treaty, and when it was opened for signature, the U.S., Britain, and France issued a joint statement saying they would never sign, ratify or become party to it.

Last week, as the U.S. and Russia, which together account for some 90 percent of nuclear weapons worldwide, were engaging in a last-minute flurry of communications over New START – the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between them – the Associated Press revealed Washington has sent a letter urging countries that ratified the TPNW to withdraw their ratification.

Among U.S. organizations welcoming the agreement’s impending entry into force is the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a network of 31 organizations whose members live downwind and downstream from U.S. Department of Energy weapons complex sites. The Alliance noted that with the treaty soon to become part of international law, “nations that possess or stage nuclear weapons, including in the United States, will now find themselves standing outside the bounds of international law. Today, the international ‘norm’ changes and nuclear weapons are illegal.”

ANA President Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Livermore, Calif.-based Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs), called on Washington to sign and ratify the TPNW, and take “immediate steps” toward the treaty’s “overarching goal” of a world free of nuclear annihilation. She emphasized the importance of focusing on “environmental justice and cleanup” for communities suffering from radioactive and toxic pollution instead of developing new bombs and warheads.

Physicians for Social Responsibility called the treaty “a historic milestone for a decades-long, intergenerational movement to abolish nuclear weapons,” adding, “Total elimination is the only appropriate medical response to nuclear weapons by virtue of their humanitarian impacts” including climate impacts possibly leading to nuclear famine. PSR thanked the 50 “forward-looking nations” for “lighting up the path towards a nuclear weapons-free world.”

Highlighting the TPNW’s emphasis on creating obligations to support victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and to remedy their environmental damage, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s CEO, Rick Wayman, said “the world has moved a big step forward” toward finally ending “the long-standing existential threat posed by nuclear weapons.”

The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation said in a joint statement that the TPNW “recognizes and reinforces existing international law requiring the non-use and elimination of nuclear weapons,” which they said, “applies to states whether or not they join the treaty.”

Calling U.S. efforts to get countries to rescind their ratification of the TPNW “wrongheaded,” the two urged Washington to “welcome” the treaty as a “powerful statement of the moral, political and legal principles that should guide the abolition of nuclear arms.”

All these and many more U.S.-based organizations are among the nearly 600 partner organizations in over 100 countries working with ICAN to end nuclear weapons.

In the leadup to Honduras’ ratification, 56 former top leaders from 20 NATO member countries as well as Japan and South Korea released an open letter late last month urging their countries’ current leaders to join the treaty. As the coronavirus highlights the urgent need for international cooperation against major threats to human welfare and the risk of intentional or accidental detonation of nuclear weapons rises, they said, “We must not sleepwalk into a crisis of even greater proportions than the one we have experienced this year.”

The former leaders added, “With close to 14,000 nuclear weapons located at dozens of sites across the globe and on submarines patrolling the oceans at all times, the capacity for destruction is beyond our imagination … There is no cure for a nuclear war. Prevention is our only option.”

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Alternative future for LLNL

October 16, 2020
Source:
The Tracy Press

Editor, 

I would like to let the community know the importance of submitting a letter to outline important issues, questions and topics that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) must address in the upcoming Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for the continued operation of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore Lab) Main Site in Livermore, and Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy.

More than 2,000 current and former Livermore Lab employees have applied through the Labor Department for compensation for serious illnesses, including cancer, believed to have been caused by on-the-job exposures to radioactive and toxic materials. 

NNSA noted in particular that the SWEIS would seek to raise the emission limit for tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen. 

The SWEIS should analyze an alternative future for Livermore Lab; one in which the Lab does more unclassified, civilian science work and less work on developing new and modified nuclear bomb designs.

The Livermore Lab Main Site was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of most contaminates sites in the nation in 1987. The Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy was placed on the EPA Superfund list in 1990. ”

Please, it is important to write your letter and send it by email to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov. 

For more information on this issue, you can visit www.trivalleycares.org or email Marylia@earthlink.net. If you are a Spanish speaker, you can email raiza@trivalleycares.org, I will gladly help to translate your letter and send it. 

NNSA will hold a second virtual public meeting on Monday, Oct. 5 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Deadline for public comment is Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

For NNSA NEPA reading room visit: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis,

Tracy

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Submit Your Letters

October 8, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

I would like to let the community of Livermore know the importance of submitting a letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to outline important issues, questions and topics that must address in the upcoming Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for the continued operation of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore Lab) Main Site in Livermore and Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy. 

More than 2,000 current and former Livermore Lab employees have applied through the Labor Department for compensation for serious illnesses, including cancer, believed to have been caused by on-the-job exposures to radioactive and toxic materials. The SWEIS must analyze worker exposures and consider worker health and safety.

NNSA noted in particular that the SWEIS would seek to raise the emission limit for tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen. There shouldn’t be any justification for the increase of any radioactive emissions. If anything, it should be reduced. 

The SWEIS should analyze an alternative future for Livermore Lab; one in which the lab does more unclassified, civilian science work and less work on developing new and modified nuclear bomb designs. Furthermore, the decision makers and the public should have these facts in hand when making decisions in regards nuclear weapons. 

The Livermore Lab Main Site was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of most contaminates sites in the nation in 1987. The Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy was placed on the EPA Superfund list in 1990. It will take 60 to 80 years, if not more, for the cleanup of radioactive toxins. 

As a resident of the Central Valley, I am particularly concerned about Livermore Lab’s plan to increase the size and weight of open-air bomb blasts at Site 300 by as much as 10 fold per each blast and more than seven fold annually. ”

Please, it is important to write your letter and send it by email to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov. 

For more information on this issue, you can visit www.trivalleycares.org or email Marylia@earthlink.net. If you are a Spanish speaker, you can email raiza@trivalleycares.org, I will gladly help to translate your letter and send it. 

NNSA will hold a second virtual public meeting on Monday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.  Deadline for public comment is Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. For the NNSA NEPA reading room, visit energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room.

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis,

Livermore

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Still Time to Comment on LLNL

September 24, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

Let’s begin with the facts. In 2000, Congress passed a law to enable nuclear-weapons workers to receive compensation for cancer and other illnesses due to on-the-job exposure to radiation and toxic materials. It’s called the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act.

To date 2,664 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees have filed for compensation. A Tri-Valley CAREs staff attorney helps current and former LLNL employees obtain recompense, a small modicum of justice for ruined health and untimely death.

The Department of Energy has concurred in court with the National Academy of Sciences that “there is no safe level of radiation exposure. Every exposure no matter how small carries with it some risk of an adverse health effect.” 

The bottom line is that LLNL’s nuclear-weapons research involving radioactive materials poses risks to workers, the public, and the environment in which we all live. LLNL describes the 50-mile radius around the laboratory as the directly affected area. Seven million of us live within that radius.

On this basis, I wrote a letter to The Independent suggesting that community members get involved in a new environmental review process. That review is at its beginning stage, called “scoping,” and public comment is currently being accepted on what topics the document should consider. Folks can still send comments to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov.

Apparently, letter writer Tom Ramos takes issue with those facts. In addition to castigating me personally, he wrote several paragraphs on the simple fact that some radioactive elements exist in nature. Most of us learned that in elementary school. I know I did. Tom then tells us, “… for God’s sake, live with it.”

His admonition misses the point. LLNL has released harmful radioactive materials into our air, land and water, including plutonium (manmade in a nuclear reactor), tritium (radioactive hydrogen, also made in a reactor), and others.

Past LLNL documents list more than a million curies of airborne radiation released from its operations. Radioactive leakages can also be found in soils and groundwater at LLNL’s main site in Livermore and Site 300 near Tracy.

Now, LLNL is undertaking a review that will authorize activities for the next 15 years or more. Again, I call on community members to become involved. Your voice matters.

Marylia Kelley,

Livermore

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Click here if you would like to read Tom Ramos' Letter to the Editor...

Click Here if you would like to read Tom Ramos' copy of the letter in Tri-Valley CAREs...




LLNL Public Comment Extension

September 10, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

In his letter published Sept. 3, Tom Ramos asserts that nuclear weapons keep us safe. He also seems to suggest that President John F. Kennedy’s visit to what was then Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in March 1962 was a form of approbation for nuclear weapons.

In an address to the United Nations on Sept. 25, 1961, JFK decried nuclear weapons in words that feel even more true in 2020, as we stand on the threshold of a new nuclear arms race supported by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s weapons design work. Kennedy said, “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet will no longer be habitable. Every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

Nuclear weapons don’t keep us safe in Livermore either. Laboratory research and design of nuclear weapons creates hazards. The upcoming Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement assessing the effect LLNL’s proposed work would have on the environment implicitly acknowledges that there is an impact. 

We know, right now, that there is ongoing EPA Superfund cleanup work for toxic and radioactive materials that will take several decades to complete, assuming there are no new additions to the toxic load. We also know that thousands of LLNL employees have the 22 cancers that qualify for Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Program benefits. These cancers are associated with exposures to radioactive and toxic materials that have been part of their jobs. How safe is that?

Livermore residents need to have a say in LLNL safety, community safety, and how our tax money is spent. Unfortunately, the short notice given by the National Nuclear Security Administration offers insufficient opportunity for required public comment on the assessment process, especially given the difficulties associated with fires, smoke, and a pandemic.

Once again, I urge concerned community members to take action. Immediately send NNSA a request for a public comment period extension of at least 90 to 100 days and ask for a second public comment meeting. Email your request to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov, or call (833) 778-0508. You can find more information and materials at www.trivalleycares.org.

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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Click here if you would like to read Tom Ramos' Letter to the Editor...

Click Here if you would like to read Tom Ramos' copy of the letter in Tri-Valley CAREs...




Nuclear Research Helps Keep Us Safe

September 3, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

Same old, same old. Like a broken record, we've been treated to yet another dose of Marylea Kelley's well-worn opinions, this time joined by one of her disciples, Mary Perner.

Marylea preaches that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has brought something alien to the valley, radioactivity. She doesn't want radiation. Marylea is apparently clueless that radioactivity is nothing new. It's the force that drives earthquakes, volcanoes, and God forbid, geothermal plants. The Earth is literally a natural nuclear reactor, so I can only guess she's planning to leave the planet.

Science, as related on the PBS show, “Nova,” relates that life on the planet would not exist as we know it without radioactivity. So, Marylea, for God's sake, live with it. 

Then Mary Perner claims LLNL has "squandered" money on nuclear weapons. She apparently thinks that by avoiding doing anything to defend ourselves we will be safe. Really? She prescribes to the bankrupt and timeworn idea that by not doing anything provocative, thugs like Russian President Putin will respond kindly. Mary seems to be just as clueless that President John F. Kennedy once came out here specifically to thank LLNL scientists for helping the country avert a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Yes Marylea, yes Mary, thugs like Stalin and Khrushchev didn't fall for your philosophy either and only by our being strong were we able to avoid a catastrophe. You two, and your ideas, are dangerous, and the sad part is you don't even know it.

Tom Ramos,

Livermore

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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

September 3, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

On Aug. 6, advocates for peace and justice held their annual rally at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The virtual event was held on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, during World War II. In a city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants, nearly half died immediately or within a few months. A second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki three days later, leading to Japan’s surrender.

Many survivors are still with us, and their plea remains that there be an end to the nuclear threat. Each year they remind us that nuclear bombs make us suffer, physically, mentally and socially, for the rest of our lives.

One survivor, the Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, spoke at the virtual rally. His words were filled with sadness as he told about the bombing of Nagasaki, when he was just 8 months old. His only memories of his mother and sister were of them pale and bedridden. When he was still a young boy, they died of illness linked to radiation poisoning.

Marylia Kelley, executive director at Livermore Tri-Valley CAREs, addressed LLNL’s role in promoting a new nuclear arm trace. Kelley, who has spent more than 37 years researching, writing and facilitating public participation in nuclear policy decisions, shared a chart showing that 88.7% of LLNL’s budget for the coming year is for nuclear weapons activities, while the budget for civilian science is less than 2%.

In this time of COVID-19, it is sad to say that this is the government’s priority, and this is what we must change. It’s clear to me that we must bring about a systemic change, nationally and locally within the lab, to prevent nuclear use.

We must become partners in the growing global movement to abolish nuclear weapons to prevent the same tragedy that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from being repeated.

Raiza Bettis,

Livermore

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Livermore Lab quietly seeking safety changes

August 30, 2020
Source:
San Jose Mercury News

Are you aware that Livermore Lab is seeking to increase the amount of nuclear bomb-grade plutonium it can use (and store) in our highly populated community?

The mechanism through which the Lab is changing this and other safety regulations is called a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement.

Moreover, Livermore Lab is dodging the law’s public participation requirements by pushing through these changes amid a pandemic and fires.

The Lab did not announce a hearing on the “scope” of its proposed review until last week – and it is set to happen this [Wednesday].

What can the public do to safeguard its health and its right to meaningfully participate?

  1. Request a 90-day extension to the comment period at LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov.
  2. Participate in the virtual hearing on the “scope” of the review on Wednesday Sept. 2 from 6-8 p.m. The url is https://tinyurl.com/LLNLSW9-2.
  3. Get information at www.trivalleycares.org/ and www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room.

Marylia Kelley

Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs

Livermore

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Weigh in on lab decision-making

August 28, 2020
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Firefighters hard-pressed by some of the largest wildfires in California history ordered a “safe shutdown” of Site 300 in Tracy due the imminent threat they were facing. Imagine if the fire actually moved onto Site 300. Many contaminants would become airborne — depleted uranium as well as many other contaminants. Site 300 is a nuclear weapons facility that poses the most significant security threat of any such facility in the U.S.

Earlier this month, the National Nuclear Security Administration published a “Notice of Intent” in the Federal Register to make changes to Livermore Lab’s nuclear material limits and other programs. The NNSA announced a minimal 45-day public comment period on the “scope” of its proposed environmental review. Furthermore, the NNSA stated that there would be a virtual public hearing and it is set to happen on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

It is imperative to send NNSA a request for a 90-day extension to the public comment period. Send your request to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov. If you can’t email, call 833-778-0508 or postal mail your request to Ms. Fana Gebeyehu-Houston, NEPA Document Manager, National Nuclear Security Administration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, L-293, 7000 East Avenue, Livermore, CA 94551-0808.

Ask for a 90-day extension of the comment period and for a second public meeting closer to the end of the new comment period. The virtual public hearing is via WebEx on the scope of the environment review this Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. The URL to participate is https://tinyurl.com/LLNLSW9-2.

You can access documents at www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room and find more information online at www.trivalleycares.org. Don’t we have the right to know so we can participate in these nuclear weapon decision-makings?

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis,

Tracy

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Extend the comment period

August 28, 2020
Source:
Pleasanton Weekly

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to conduct a full site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS), as required by the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze the lab’s environmental impact over the next 15 years.

This is the only opportunity for the public to influence the lab (a federal nuclear weapons lab with two Superfund cleanup sites) until 2036. Tri-Valley CAREs, a LLNL watchdog group, has requested a SWEIS for years.

SWEIS timing now, during a global pandemic and a presidential campaign, seems calculated to minimize public input into nuclear lab activities. We at CAREs won’t let them get away with this!

The National Nuclear Security Administration claims, “U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure is aging and historically underfunded.” Having squandered hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction with massive yearly budget increases for nuclear weapons activities, LLNL now asserts half its operating buildings are inadequate or substandard.

Why then haven’t existing funds been used to maintain lab infrastructure? Are we willing to spend billions more on weapons during a pandemic and joblessness crisis, while the country cries out for improved medical and climate research? The lab’s budget for such research is tiny

SWEIS comments allow the public to assist NNSA in determining lab alternatives — e.g. cleanup and funding vital scientific work like climate change solutions or health research.

Tri-Valley CAREs seeks to extend the comment period allowing time for more public engagement. Please join us in impacting the future of the nuclear weapons lab. Check www.trivalleycares.org for updates.

Mary Perner,

Board president, Tri-Valley CAREs

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Time for Public Comment on LLNL

August 27, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to conduct a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement, a process required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Department of Energy to analyze the environmental impacts of the lab’s operation over the next 15 years. Currently in “scoping” for the draft document, which likely will come out sometime next year, this will be the only opportunity for the public to engage, comment and influence the operations of LLNL, one of three federal nuclear weapons labs, consisting of two superfund cleanup sites, until 2036.

Tri-Valley CAREs, a local non-profit watchdog group, has asked the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency for years to conduct this process. The agency’s timing, during a global pandemic and during a presidential election season, appears intended to minimize public involvement in the activities of this controversial nuclear weapons lab. We at CAREs will not let them get away with this.

The Notice of Intent, which can be read at www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/08/f77/noi-eis-0547-llnl-site-wide-2020.pdf, includes a statement of “purpose and need” in which the DOE has the audacity to claim “The U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure is aging and historically underfunded.” 

The NNSA has squandered hundreds of billions of dollars on these weapons of mass destruction. This same agency requested $15.6 billion taxpayer dollars for nuclear weapons activities for fiscal 2021. LLNL requested $2.2 billion. Despite years of massive budget increases for nuclear weapons activities, LLNL asserts that half of the lab’s operating buildings are currently inadequate or in substandard condition. If so, why hasn’t past funding been used to maintain existing infrastructure? How much are we as Americans willing to spend on these dangerous weapons during a pandemic in which joblessness has skyrocketed, while the country cries out for improved medical care and research?

The “scoping process“ is an opportunity for the public to assist NNSA in determining the alternatives and issues for analysis.” However, the Notice of Intent states there are alternatives “that NNSA will not consider as reasonable to examine,” illustrating the agency’s unwillingness to self-examine or analyze reasonable “alternatives,” such as repurposing and funding expansion of LLNL’s work for other crucial scientific endeavors, such as climate change solutions or health research. 

Tri-Valley CAREs seeks to extend the comment period to give the public more opportunity for engagement. Please join us in this effort to engage in the future of the nuclear weapons lab.

Mary Perner,

Livermore

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LLNL Changes

August 27, 2020
Source:
The Independent News

Are you aware that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is seeking to increase the amount of nuclear bomb-grade plutonium it can use (and store) in our highly populated community? The mechanism through which the lab is seeking this and changes to other safety regulations is called a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement.

And, it gets worse. LLNL and its parent agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration, are dodging the law’s public participation requirements by pushing through these changes amid an ongoing pandemic and major fires.

Earlier this month, the NNSA published a “Notice of Intent” in the Federal Register to make changes to LLNL’s nuclear material limits and other programs. In it, NNSA announced a minimal 45-day public comment period on the “scope” of its proposed environmental review.

Last week the NNSA announced there would be a virtual public hearing, now set to happen on Monday, Sept. 2.

What can the public do to safeguard both its health from nuclear mishaps and its right to meaningfully participate in the decision?

  1. Immediately send NNSA a request for a 90-day extension to the public comment period. Send your request to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov. If you can’t email, call (833) 778-0508 or mail your request to Fana Gebeyehu-Houston, Document Manager, NNSA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, PO Box 808, L-293, Livermore, CA 94551-0808.

  2. Participate in the virtual public hearing via WebEx on the “scope” of the environmental review. The meeting will run from 6-8 p.m. at https://tinyurl.com/LLNLSW9-2. During the public comment portion, ask for a 90-day extension of the comment period and for a second public meeting closer to the end of the new comment period.

  3. Seek more information. The NNSA announcement of the virtual public meeting, the Federal Register Notice and other materials can be found at www.trivalleycares.org. You can also access documents at www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room.

You may want to note that LLNL’s Site 300 has already been evacuated due to fire danger. Many of our neighbors around Livermore and Tracy are making contingency plans. Some have had to leave their homes – in a pandemic no less! Simply put, this is not the time to ramrod through changes.

Marylia Kelley

Livermore

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Eliminate nuclear weapons

August 21, 2020
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

On Aug. 6, advocates for peace and justice held their annual rally at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. This year the event was virtual, and uplifting.

Each year, speakers, including Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), remind us that nuclear bombs make us suffer, physically, mentally and socially, for the rest of our lives.

It is difficult to accomplish this task when we know that more than 88% of the Livermore Lab’s budget for the coming year is to be spent on nuclear weapons, including the development of new and more deadly warheads.

One of the survivors of the Nagasaki bomb, Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, spoke at the virtual rally. His words were filled with sadness as he told the tragic story of that day, Aug. 9, 1945, when he was 8 months old. His only memories of his mother and sister were of them pale and bedridden. When he was still a young boy, they died of illness linked to radiation poisoning.

Gar Alperovitz, a nuclear historian and former special assistant in the U.S. State Department, spoke on the U.S. decision to use the atomic bombs. He said, “Virtually every top military and diplomatic person within the upper rank of the American government knew that the bombing was unnecessary to end the war without an invasion and without a massive loss of life.”

Listening to the event, it’s clear to me that we must bring a system change, nationally and locally within the lab. We must bring new polices and technologies, as well as the political will needed to prevent nuclear use.

We must become partners in the growing global movement to abolish nuclear weapons to prevent the same tragedy that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from being repeated.

I call to end this. Are you with me?

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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On anniversary of Hiroshima, demands for end to nuclear weapons

August 10, 2020
Source:
People's World

By Marilyn Bechtel

LIVERMORE, Calif.—As the world observed the 75th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, a virtual rally focusing on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory here kicked off two days of nationally broadcast virtual programming put together by over 160 peace and disarmament organizations under the auspices of the Hiroshima Nagasaki 75 collaboration.

The programming shown on the two anniversary dates can be viewed here.

The Livermore protest, “From Hiroshima to a Healthy Tomorrow: Embracing our Common Humanity,” brought together national and San Francisco Bay Area leaders in the fight to abolish nuclear weapons forever. Throughout the program, speakers addressed the urgent need for popular mobilization to end the growing threat posed by nuclear weapons and to shift resources to human needs and economic and social justice.

Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs), stood outside the Livermore Lab’s fence as she opened the program, telling participants from around the country that the lab, on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the two U.S. national laboratories that design every nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile.

As an image of the lab’s budget chart appeared on the screen, Kelley pointed out that nearly 90% of the over-$2 billion requested for 2020-21 is allocated to nuclear weapons while less than 2% is for civilian science.

“We are in the belly of the beast that is developing new warheads,” she said. Among current projects: two new nuclear weapons, the W80-4, destined to sit atop a new air-launched cruise missile that can be launched thousands of miles from its unsuspecting target, and the W87-1, a new intercontinental ballistic missile warhead that will need a plutonium bomb core unlike anything in the stockpile or in storage.

Meanwhile, Kelley said, the Trump administration is seriously discussing resuming nuclear weapons tests after a break of over 25 years.

“In this time of COVID, on this 75th anniversary of our country’s atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” she said, “this is our government’s priority. This is what we must change.”

The Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, a retired Methodist minister living in the Bay Area for many years, was an eight-month-old infant living on the outskirts of Nagasaki when that city was struck.

His father moved the family to another city, but Hanaoka said he always remembered his mother and older sister as pale, weak, and bedridden with the leukemia that soon took their lives. As a child, he overheard a physician say he himself might not reach his tenth birthday.

“Mr. President,” Hanaoka said, “if you want a Nobel Peace Prize, invite the nine nuclear weapons states to the negotiating table, and negotiate with them to start dismantling the weapons of the devil, the weapons of global annihilation. That is what a president could do now.”

Historian and political economist Gar Alperowitz, author of two major studies on the decision to bomb Hiroshima, called Aug. 6, 1945 “a day of infamy,” adding that “virtually every top diplomatic and military person within the upper ranks of the American government knew the bombings were unnecessary to end the war without an invasion and massive loss of life.” In fact, Adm. William D. Leahy, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the bombings were “of no material assistance” in the war against Japan, and said that by being the first to use it, the U.S. had adopted a “barbarian” ethical standard.

Rather, Alperowitz said, use of the bomb appears to have been intended more to challenge the Soviet Union.

“The lesson here,” Alperowitz said, “is that not only are nuclear weapons dangerous, but leaders are not to be trusted with these weapons. We’ve been very lucky for 75 years, but when these weapons are in the hands of a man like President Trump, we do not know what will happen.

“The only activity that can possibly stop and prevent the next war, which could be a nuclear war, is citizen action.”

Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower whose 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers helped speed the end of the Vietnam War, noted that U.S. efforts to use the bomb as a warning to the USSR, possibly rolling back their role in Eastern Europe, “failed to do that, nor did we achieve a monopoly on the bomb. At the height of the arms race that ensued, the world saw 70,000 nuclear weapons in existence in the U.S. and USSR.

“This is not a species to be trusted with nuclear weapons,” Ellsberg said. Calling their continued existence “a constant risk to most humans, and many other species, on earth,” he declared that we must “reverse this process … take this out of the hands of the leaders who have put us in this position, and act for our species’ survival.”

As Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation and North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace, told the virtual crowd in presenting the rally’s Call to Action, “On this 75th anniversary, we gather virtually at the Livermore Lab to say ‘Never Again!’ to the use of nuclear weapons, to demand a halt to their modernization, to call for their global abolition, and to demand the redirection of human and financial resources to health care, racial and economic equality, environmental protection, and peace. We are here to visualize moving from Hiroshima to a healthy tomorrow, embracing our common humanity.”

Nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons exist today, Cabasso said, most far more powerful than those 75 years ago and over 90% of them in the hands of the U.S. and Russia. All the nuclear-armed countries are in the process of modernizing their weapons, with the U.S. poised to spend nearly $2 trillion over the next three decades to maintain and modernize its arsenal.

Adding to the danger are the increased scale and tempo of war games by nuclear-armed states and their allies, including nuclear weapons drills, together with ongoing missile tests and frequent close encounters between military forces of nuclear-armed states.

Cabasso told the virtual crowd, “Let us work together to understand the common causes of our current multifaceted crisis as we work … with others to build the massive multigenerational, multiracial, moral fusion movement we will need to overcome systemic state violence and build a peaceful, just, sustainable, and inclusive world.”

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Virtual Lawrence Livermore Lab Protest Held On 75th Anniversary Of Hiroshima Bombing

August 6, 2020
Source:
CBS SF BayArea

LIVERMORE (CBS SF) — Bay Area nuclear war protesters held their annual rally at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory virtually on Thursday, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima to call for an end to nuclear weapons.

The rally started at 8 a.m. Pacific time on the HiroshimaNagasaki75.org website and was part of a national event called “From Hiroshima to a Healthy Tomorrow: Embracing Our Common Humanity,” organized by more than 160 groups.

Virtual programming will also occur on Sunday, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki 75 years ago. Estimates of the number of people killed in the two explosions range from 110,000 to 210,000, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit organization that sets the hands of the Doomsday Clock, a measure of how close humanity is to destroying itself.

The clock is now set at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to annihilation.

“Every time I get sick, I say maybe this is the end,” said Nagasaki survivor Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, who was an infant when the bomb hit and whose mother and sister died in the attack. He said he’s been saying that for 75 years and says he’s lucky to still be alive.

Historian Gar Alperovitz, a former special assistant in the U.S. State Department, said the decision to drop the bombs was not made to end the war but rather for diplomacy.

Alperovitz said military officials knew that using the bombs were not necessary. Japan was ready to surrender in two weeks, he said. Daniel Ellsberg, best known for releasing the Pentagon Papers to quicken the end to the Vietnam War, said American officials may have used the bomb to prompt Russia to pull back in Eastern Europe.

Demonstrators say President Donald Trump’s administration is pouring gasoline onto the flames of new global arms race. In the 1960s, Russia imitated the American buildup of nuclear arms, Ellsberg said.

He said for more than half a century, there have been two doomsday machines, the U.S. and Russia, on hair-trigger alert. Demonstrators say the Livermore Lab is central to the increasing nuclear danger.

They say that 88 percent of the funding for the lab is slated for nuclear weapons activity.

Lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver disagreed with that number. She said that about 67 percent of the lab’s $2.3 billion budget for the current fiscal year is spent on weapons work. If all of the lab’s national security work is combined, it would be closer to the 88 percent.

The Berkeley City Council last week adopted a resolution calling for President Trump and Congress to lead an effort to avoid nuclear war by giving up the option to do so, taking the weapons off hair-trigger alert, ending the president’s sole authority to launch an attack, canceling plans to create enhanced weapons in the place of the current arsenal, and pursuing an agreement to eliminate the weapons among countries with nuclear war capability.

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Hiroshima anniversary a time to reflect, act

August 6, 2020
Source:
The Mercury News

Militarization, violence and assault weapons permeate our culture.

Sitting at the apex of violence are nuclear weapons of mass destruction. How can we promote a civilian life of compassion, inclusion and nonviolence while our government spends billions on new, “more usable” nuclear warheads?

Nuclear weapons pose a threat to our existence and could destroy most of life on earth in the span of an afternoon. Whether by design, accident or miscalculation, human error may cause mass human extinction.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki nuclear holocausts. Beginningtoday, online programs will feature remembrances, history, survivor stories and the current threat of nuclear buildup.

Good news includes the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and nonprofits like our national Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and local Tri-Valley CAREs.

Patricia Moore,

Livermore

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Annual Hiroshima Day Protest Against Nuclear Weapons Goes Virtual

August 5, 2020
Source:
The Independent

The annual Hiroshima Day protest against nuclear weapons at the gates to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL ) in Livermore will be held virtually on Thursday, Aug. 6, with pre-recorded segments streamed on YouTube.

“We tried to replicate the rally experience for our viewers,” said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES, which advocates for abolishment of nuclear weapons and organizes the annual protest.

This is the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, by the U.S. on Aug. 6, 1945, during World War II. The online protest has been dubbed “From Hiroshima to a Healthy Tomorrow: Embracing Our Common Humanity.” It will be part of a national two-day event organized by the Hiroshima Nagasaki 75 Coalition. Nagasaki was bombed three days after Hiroshima.

Tri-Valley CARES recorded segments of the virtual protest outside the gates to LLNL last months, with cardboard cutouts to represent some of the people who usually attend the protest.

The rally will also include recorded segments with Gar Alperovitz, author of “Atomic Diplomacy, Hiroshima and Potsdam” and “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb”; Daniel Ellsberg, best known for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the news media in 1971 and author of “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner”; and the Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, who survived the bombing of Nagasaki.

Kelley noted that the Trump administration has requested a 20% increase in funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons programs in the fiscal 2021 budget, and that other nuclear powers are following suit. She added that 88% of LLNL’s funding for the next fiscal year is targeted for nuclear weapons activities, while less than 2% of the budget is for civilian science.

“We live in a time of growing nuclear peril,” Kelley said.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ iconic Doomsday Clock, designed in 1947 to show the risk of existential nuclear danger and originally set at 7 minutes to midnight, was advanced to 100 seconds to midnight in January.

“That the closest to annihilation that it has ever been set,” Kelley said.

To view the virtual protest, from 8-9:30 a.m., go to bit.ly/INDY_Virtual-Protest. The protest can also be viewed on the Tri-Valley CARES website, www.trivalleycares.org, or the Hiroshima Nagasaki Coalition website, bit.ly/INDY-hiroshima.

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Stop New Nuclear Warheads

July 16, 2020
Source:
The Independent

President Trump’s administration plans to spend $1.4 billion in 2021 to jump start production of new plutonium cores, or pits, for nuclear weapons. Trump’s plan would cost taxpayers more than $43 billion over three decades and involve nine locations, including Livermore.

Presently, 20 plutonium pits are authorized for manufacture annually at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The government plans to increase that number to more than 30 pits. It also plans to repurpose a failed nuclear fuel facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina for the production of more than 50 pits per year. This is a fourfold increase overall.

This would violate the law because the government refuses to prepare a full programmatic environmental review before moving forward. Instead, only a standalone impact statement for the Savannah River Site is being done, leaving out significant risks from nuclear transportation, disposal, multi-site operations, and more.

Moreover, better alternatives are not being studied. Stop the nuclear insanity! Contact trivalleycares.org.

Patricia Moore,

Livermore

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True Security

June 18, 2020
Source:
The Independent

President Trump has requested an increase in the federal budget for the nuclear weapons stockpile. Further, his budget request would reduce funds for science, environmental cleanup and other programs that meet human needs.

With the coronavirus crisis that has shaken our country, it is clear that we need more civilian science and infrastructure, not new weapons of nuclear destruction. Rather than building weapons at the expense of everything else, the U.S. should meet its security goals with fewer warheads and more funding for programs that actually make us safer, such as education, science, healthcare systems and environmental protection.

With this in mind, it looks like the Administration's budget request for fiscal 2021 has its priorities backwards.

One example can be found in the proposed funding for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The overall funding request for LLNL is more than $2 billion, up 7% from last year. But the budget for science at the lab would shrink in fiscal 2021 to 1.7% of the total funding ($36 million).

And funding to safely decommission and decontaminate LLNL’s high-risk buildings would go all the way to zero ($0). Trump’s budget request takes $109 million that had been allocated to keep these buildings from emitting toxic and radioactive pollutants and it gives it instead to new weapons programs.

Among LLNL’s contaminated buildings in dire need of fixing is an abandoned reactor with cracks in the shielding and walls that can be seen with the naked eye. This building is visible from Vasco Road. LLNL workers are all around it and families live right across the street.

LLNL has four of the top 10 most serious high-risk facilities in the nation at its main site. It also has another high-risk facility at Site 300 near Tracy, California. Tri-Valley CAREs members have raised the alarm locally and in Washington, D.C., about these abandoned buildings and the complexity of this matter.

It is sad to see that our community is forgotten, workers and the public are put at risk, and our tax money is going towards harmful nuclear weapons rather than cleaning up the contaminants that have been left in place carelessly throughout the years. I stand for more funding at LLNL for civilian science and environmental cleanup. The coronavirus pandemic should be a wake-up call for all of us. I invite LLNL workers and the community to stand with me.

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

Livermore

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Maintain the Moratorium

June 11, 2020
Source:
The Independent

By Mary Perner

On May 28, 24 non-governmental organizations, including Livermore’s Tri-Valley CAREs, signed onto a letter that was delivered to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. The letter was in response to recent reports that senior White House officials had discussed conducting the first U.S. nuclear weapon test explosion since 1992.

The proposal, a chest-thumping gesture aimed at Russia and China, is likely to spur the two countries and other nuclear-armed states to conduct their own tests, reviving the danger, devastation, and cost of a nuclear arms race.

The NGOs wrote to urge Congress to “demand a prohibition on the use of any funds to resume or prepare to resume such a test.” The following day, taking a cue from the letter, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, drafted a bill to disallow the use of U.S. funds for an explosive nuclear weapons test.

Nuclear testing has killed or sickened thousands of military personnel involved in detonations, as well as civilians who lived on, or downrange from, testing sites. Now officials are toying with lives again, as they entertain the idea of spending billions for a high-risk nuclear bargaining chip, while the costs of a deadly pandemic and depression-era unemployment continue to rise.

For high White House staff to entertain the idea of even one test strikes me as reckless, tone deaf, and way beyond the pale. If you agree, let’s act. Call California Senators Dianne Feinstein (415-393-0707) and Kamala Harris (415-981-9369). Urge them to sign on as original cosponsors of Markey’s bill. Tell them you object to the U.S. spending any funds to conduct or prepare for a yield-producing explosive nuclear weapons test.

For more information, visit www.trivalleycares.org

By Mary Perner

Livermore

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Letter: US may spend billions on a nuclear bargaining chip

June 10, 2020
Source:
The Mercury News

By Mary Perner

Tri-Valley CAREs sent Congress a letter on reports US may conduct its first nuclear weapon tests since 1992

Public interest organizations, including Tri-Valley CAREs, sent Congress a letter recently responding to reports senior White House officials discussed conducting the first U.S. nuclear weapon test explosion since 1992.

The proposal, a chest-thumping gesture aimed at Russia and China, is likely to spur the two countries and other nuclear states to conduct their own nuclear tests. The groups urged Congress to “demand prohibition on use of any funds to resume or prepare to resume such a test.” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has drafted a bill using similar language.

Nuclear testing sickened and killed military personnel involved in detonations, as well as civilians in the fallout pathways. Now officials consider spending billions on a high-risk nuclear bargaining chip, while the costs of the pandemic and unemployment continue to rise.

By Mary Perner

Livermore

Board President

Tri-Valley CAREs

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Backward priorities in federal budget

June 5, 2020
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

President Trump has requested an increase to the budget for the nuclear weapons stockpile. Further, his request reduces funds for science, environmental cleanup and other programs that meet human needs.

It is clear, with the coronavirus crisis that has shaken our country, that we need more civilian science and infrastructure, not new weapons of nuclear destruction. Rather than building weapons at the expense of everything else, the United States should meet its security goals with fewer warheads and more funding for programs that actually make us safer, such as education, science, health systems and environmental protection.

With this in mind, it looks like the administration’s budget request for fiscal 2021 has its priorities backwards.

One example can be found in the funding for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The overall funding request is for more than $2 billion, up 7% from last year. Yet, the budget for science at the lab will shrink in fiscal 2021 to 1.7% of the total funding ($36 million).

Livermore Lab has four of the top 10 most serious “High Risk” facilities in the nation at its main site. It also has another “High Risk” facility at Site 300 near Tracy. Tri-Valley CAREs members have raised the alarm in Washington, D.C., and locally about these abandoned buildings and the complexity of this matter.

It is sad to see that our community is forgotten, workers and the public are put at risk, and our tax money is gong towards harmful nuclear weapons rather than cleaning up the contaminants that have been left in place carelessly throughout the years.

I stand for more funding at the lab for civilian science and environmental cleanup. The coronavirus pandemic should be a wake-up call for all of us. I invite lab workers and the community to stand with me.

Raiza Bettis

Tracy

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“Stir it Up” with host Dan Yaseen

April 29, 2020
Source:
Pacifica Radio, KFCF Fresno

30-minute Interview with Marylia Kelley on the Trump Nuclear Weapons Budget in the Time of Covid

In a wide-ranging interview with host Dan Yaseen the Tri-Valley CAREs executive director talks about U.S. nuclear weapons policy and funding, Kelley notes that the current pandemic calls us to re-think our spending priorities. The show also discusses how the public cam make a difference. The link is below.

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Virtual vigil at Livermore Lab: A global safety net is needed

April 17, 2020
Source:
People’s World / Mundo Popular

By Marilyn Bechtel

A longstanding tradition took a new form this year, as nuclear disarmament advocates gathered virtually for the annual Good Friday Vigil normally held at the entrance to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., which is at the center of the Trump administration’s drive to develop new, ever more dangerous types of nuclear weapons.

As participants marked their presence on the edges of the video screen, DePaul University professor Dr. Ken Butigan, who helped found the vigils in 1983, joined from Chicago. Butigan, a renowned advocate of nonviolent change, brought to the gathering thoughts on how the theme of this year’s vigil—“For the Healing of the Nations”—brings together today’s all-consuming global COVID-19 pandemic and the decades-long existential global crisis of nuclear weapons, and points the way toward a world built on action for the common good.

As the Pentagon’s demands for money soar, he said, COVID-19 is making clear that humanity’s survival depends on creating a global safety net, with universal health care, economic and social equity, dignity and human rights for all.

“We can join with our sisters and brothers worldwide who have faced the brunt of the crisis,” Butigan said, “to set the world once and for all in a new direction—a world building on the power and spirit of nonviolent engagement that has been unleashed in response to this disaster: compassion, courage, resilience, sacrifice and concerted action for the common good.”

Among many who offered spiritual and musical tributes were Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations/San Francisco; Carl Anderson, Livermore Conversion Project; musician Daniel Zwickel; the Rev. Max Lynn, St. John’s Presbyterian Church/Berkeley; and Janet Cordes Gibson, Ecumenical Peace Institute. The gathering, planned by the Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC and the Livermore Conversion Project, was co-sponsored by over two dozen organizations and churches.

The Trump administration’s push to escalate nuclear weapons spending in Fiscal Year 2021 was foreshadowed in the Nuclear Posture Review it issued early in 2018.

In its Spring 2020 news bulletin, Citizen’s Watch, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs) highlights the administration’s request, which is 20% higher than that for 2020, and over 50% more than the annual funding level when Donald Trump took office. The proposal is now subject to Congress’s months-long budget process.

Vigil co-sponsor Tri-Valley CAREs, whose mission statement includes abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide and conversion of Livermore Laboratory to “socially beneficial, environmentally sound” research, says the request highlights three dangerous trends:

Every weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal is being modified and two totally new warheads are being developed. One, W80-4, is to be launched on a new long-range standoff air-launched cruise missile and the other, 87-1, is for a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Both are being developed at Livermore Lab.

A new infrastructure is projected to speed up weapons production, including industrial-scale production of plutonium pits and ramping up uranium operations.

More funds are sought to develop nuclear weapons testing capabilities.

Funding requests for Livermore Lab have increased by 45% since Trump took office, and this year’s ask would raise funding to develop new and modified nuclear arms by 13%.

Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley was scheduled to update vigil participants on the lab’s work but was unable to do so because of an internet outage.

In a conversation this week, Kelley called the administration’s request “a truly shocking increase. Here in the midst of the pandemic, the activities considered essential are the continued development of new nuclear weapons that rob our treasury and make the world less, not more, safe. That’s a tragedy in any year—it’s a particularly poignant tragedy in this year.”

For nuclear weapons to be developed, she said, two things are needed: nuclear materials and money to fund research. Since the U.S. already has large stockpiles of the nuclear ingredients, “the key factor is money. Stopping the further development of nuclear weapons requires stopping the flow of money. That’s one reason we focus on the nuclear weapons budget and on getting information out to people in different congressional districts, in a way that’s not only timely but so early it’s actionable.”

The priority the Trump administration is giving to ramping up pit production, she said, is directly linked to the development of the brand-new 87-1 warhead. Livermore Lab’s “key role” in these developments makes it necessary to focus on the lab and its role in creating a new arms race.

Though Congress is officially on recess until at least early May, Kelley said that by keeping up public pressure through posting on social media, writing letters to the editor, organizing events via teleconference, and communicating and meeting remotely with a staff of legislators who sit on crucial committees, disarmament advocates can work to keep nuclear weapons issues at the forefront of the Congressional budget process.

She suggested focusing special attention on House and Senate members serving on Armed Services committees and their staff members who are responsible for defense issues and noted that the budget for nuclear weapons actually goes through the energy and water appropriations process.

“If there’s a silver lining to this cloud,” she said, “they may have slightly less to do and be more dependent on reading their emails.”

While some scientists are always engaged in weapons-related work, Kelley said, many move into and out of weapons programs as they are needed, and other programs they work with could become the core of the laboratory’s work.

The most obvious example, she said, is a global climate change program, now a very small part of Livermore Lab’s work but viewed as one of the world’s renowned climate change programs. The computers those scientists are using are “among the best global climate scientists have in the world,” though they are significantly inferior to those being used for weapons work. “So one of my fantasies,” said Kelley, “is that the weapons folks move out and the climate scientists move in and get to use the fastest and most sophisticated computers in the world.”

The National Ignition Facility, built for the weapons designers, could be shifted from examining the temperatures and pressures involved in nuclear weapons to examining temperatures and pressures at the Earth’s core.

Meanwhile, Livermore Lab is issuing press releases about use of its computers, along with those from other institutions, to help in the search for a vaccine against COVID-19.

Among other potential benefits from transitioning to civilian research: democratization of science, openness, transparency, and accountability.

“This is the time to do it,” Kelley said. “That is both the hope and the challenge of this time!”

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DOE Ignores COVID-19 Threat, Plans for Nuclear War by Releasing Draft Environmental Study on SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant

April 6, 2019
Source:
EIN PRESSWIRE

by Tom Clements

Savannah River Site Watch

In midst of pandemic, U.S. Department of Energy irresponsibly shifts focus to nuclear war, aims to construct Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at Savannah River Site

COLUMBIA, SC, USA, April 3, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Today, in the middle of the growing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Energy ignored the real national crisis and irresponsibly shifted its focus to planning for nuclear war, revealing plans to construct a Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

DOE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today formally released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, whose proposed action is to establish the production of plutonium “pits” (nuclear warhead cores) at SRS at a rate of up to 125 pits per year, with at least 50 pits per year by 2030 as the stated objective for now.

Conversely, the “No Action Alternative” in the draft EIS is to not establish pit production at SRS and instead “utilize the capabilities at [the Los Alamos National Laboratory] to meet the nation’s long-term needs for pit manufacturing,” which NNSA defines as being at least 80 pits per year.

NNSA’s unjustified proposal drew strong opposition from Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment and Savannah River Site Watch, public interest organizations located near DOE nuclear weapons sites. In addition, the organizations view NNSA’s proposed 45-day comment period as woefully insufficient given the coronavirus epidemic and will pressure NNSA for an extended deadline.

As its core justification for expanded pit production, NNSA claims in the document that it “…needs to establish additional pit production capability and capacity to (1) mitigate against the risk of plutonium aging; (2) produce pits with enhanced safety features to meet NNSA and DoD requirements, (3) respond to changes in deterrent requirements driven by growing threats from peer competitors...” Draft SRS EIS, Summary p. 3.

In contradiction to this, in 2006 independent scientists found that pits last at least a century, with no fixed end date (the average age of pits is less than 40 years). Up to 20,000 existing pits are stored at DOE’s Pantex Plant in Texas and their reuse must be studied, according to the groups. Enhanced safety can be better achieved operationally while handling nuclear weapons, whereas major design changes to pits could undermine reliability and push the U.S. back into testing.

The groups note that the draft SRS environmental impact statement includes no discussion of the alternative of ending the looming nuclear arms race and halting implementation of a provocative $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program to refurbish or replace every nuclear warhead in the stockpile, along with new means to deliver them.

Given this year is the 75th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty - and its failed disarmament commitments - the groups contend that real national security does not consist of more unneeded and costly nuclear weapons but more protection against such things as the pandemic that now threatens us.

The SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) would be located in the partially finished, ill-constructed MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility that cost at least $7 billion before being terminated in 2018, with another $5 billion to repurpose it for bomb production by 2030. Along with the production of at least 30 pits/year at Los Alamos, the apparent goal is to replace all plutonium pits in the stockpile for the rest of this century (some 4,000 nuclear weapons, of refurbished and new designs).

SRS Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Tri-Valley CAREs, sister groups in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), have long asserted that before the SRS EIS is prepared that a nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement is legally required to assess all pit production alternatives, such as the reuse of existing pits. The agency has refused to prepare that new PEIS, setting up the possibility of a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch, said “The draft EIS lacks justification for production of pits and totally fails to establish how SRS, which has zero experience handling or producing pits, could take on this complex task. Absent a substantive assessment of the difficulties in converting the MOX building into a Plutonium Bomb Plant, NNSA is setting the project up for the usual delays, cost overruns and eventual failure, while risking more plutonium being stranded at SRS.”

Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, noted “The draft plutonium pit EIS presents the public and decision-makers with a cursory and flawed document that minimizes likely harm to human health and the environment while ignoring superior alternatives. My organization and others submitted documentation that the ‘need’ for plutonium pit production in the 2030 timeframe is driven by a elective, new-design warhead at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that would require pits unlike any in the current stockpile or storage. We requested that the DEIS consider the ‘need’ if new pit designs are not electively created, as is the case with Livermore’s W87-1 warhead. The DEIS dodges the question altogether, thus fatally flawing the analysis under the law.”

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico director, concluded, “NNSA’s waste of taxpayer resources on nuclear war planning and the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant is misguided in the face of the threat that COVID-19 poses to us all. Pursuit of a costly new Plutonium Bomb Plant once again demonstrates the inability of the Department of Energy to provide real leadership in the face of the real national security threat, the coronavirus pandemic.”

# # #

NNSA’s draft Savannah River Site environmental impact statement is available at https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0541-draft-environmental-impact-statement

Federal Register notice, April 3, 2020 - Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and Announcement of Public Hearing: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-04-03/pdf/2020-06557.pdf

This press release is available online at http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/PR-Pits-SRS-Draft-EIS-4-3-20.pdf and https://nukewatch.org/srs-eis-pr-4-3-20/

See JASON Plutonium Pit Lifetime Report - November 28, 2006

See, for example, https://www.aikenstandard.com/news/why-defense-leaders-discuss-the-need-for-plutonium-pits/article_45255e94-28a7-11ea-b9d1-bf80a2aee00d.html

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The Pacifica-KPFA News Interview with Marylia Kelley on the Nuclear Weapons Budget

February 22, 2020
Source:
KPFA


You can listen to Marylia Kelley’s interview on Saturday, February 22, 2020 starting at the 22:40 mark and running until 25:03.

Click Here to listen...






No Bomb Blasts in Our Back Yard

January 23, 2019
Source:
The Independent Newspaper

By Patricia Moore

In November 2017, Livermore Lab proposed to significantly increase the weight and size of open-air high explosive tests at Site 300 on Corral Hollow Road, a few miles east of Livermore.

Site 300 is an 11-square mile experimental bomb range that supports the Lab’s nuclear weapons development programs. It is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund clean-up site contaminated with toxic materials, with an 80-year timeline for restoration.

The Lab’s proposed action would increase its daily limit of explosive testing at Site 300 by 10 times (from 100 to 1,000 lbs.) and its yearly limit by 7.5 times (1,000 to 7,500 lbs.). In addition, 121 hazardous substances are listed that would be released into the open air by the explosions.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued the Lab a preliminary permit and authority to construct in June 2018. SJVAPCD’s preliminary decision did not address the varied, detailed, and critical comments submitted by numerous organizations and individuals prior to its issuance. Further, the air district’s preliminary decision inappropriately stated that the project was exempt from the thorough analysis mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act.

A “last minute,” hurry-up, public hearing announced in the Tracy Press by SJVAPCD took place in July 2018. The hearing drew more than 80 concerned citizens and involved multiple hours of public comment. I attended this hearing, since I live downwind to the west of this blast site. I also share the concerns of my friends in Tracy who live nearby to the east of Site 300. I was surprised to see that the SJVAPCD did not have any transcriptionist present, as is common for public hearings.

Numerous environmental issues were raised at the hearing: release of hazardous substances into air, land and water; overall regional air quality; noise impacts; re-suspension of radioactive material from previous blasts; open air burning of wastes from the explosions; the delay in Superfund clean-up projects at the site due to the proposed blasts; human health and safety; endangered species impact; environmental justice, etc.

Surprisingly, the Lab’s permit application did not involve any air-pollution control technology, nor did the Lab cite alternatives regarding open-air explosive testing. For instance, they could build a large “containment chamber” for the blasts at Site 300, as this technology exists, according to SJVAPCD documents. The Lab could conduct the explosive tests in its contained Big Explosives Experimental Facility (BEEF) at the Nevada site. Indeed, this is what the lab is presently doing. It is unclear why explosive testing for nuclear weapons research requires more than one location, especially given the increasingly urbanized environment with new home construction around Site 300.

The SJVAPCD has not yet released its final decision regarding the permit for the open-air explosive testing at Site 300. Therefore, there is still time for the public to advocate that the SJVAPCD do the right thing and deny the permit application – or at least mandate an Environmental Impact Report with a thorough review of impacts pursuant to CEQA before a decision is made.

I suspect that the air district is “caught” between the desires of a large federal agency with giant, insatiable military contractors, and the desires of a local and regional citizenry who want to protect health with clean air, land and water.

As we enter 2020, this is a major, unresolved environmental question that hangs, like the air, over all of us in the Tri-Valley and Tracy. For more complete info and to take action on this issue, contact Tri-Valleycares.org.

Patricia Moore,

Livermore

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The U.S. is Boosting Production of Nuclear Bomb Cores (For More Nuclear Weapons)

January 21, 2020
Source:
The National Interest

Thanks, arms race.

By Michael Peck

In another sign that the nuclear arms race is heating up, the U.S. is ramping up production of nuclear bomb cores.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it plans to increase the production of plutonium pits to 80 per year. The grapefruit-sized pits contain the fissile material that give nuclear weapons such tremendous power.

Production will center on the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River site in North Carolina, which would be modified to manufacture at least 50 pits per year, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which would generate at least 30, by 2030.

America’s nuclear weapons cores are aging, with some pits dating back to the 1970s, leading to concerns about the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

“The U.S. lost its ability to produce pits in large numbers in 1989, when the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, Colorado, was shut down after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Environmental Protection Agency investigated environmental violations at the site,” noted Physics Today magazine in 2018. Up to 1,200 pits per year had been manufactured there.

“Since then, only 30 pits for weapons have been fabricated—all at LANL [Los Alamos National Laboratory], the sole U.S. facility with production capability. Weapons-quality pit production ceased in 2012, when LANL began modernizing its 40-year-old facilities, although several practice pits have since been fabricated. The oldest pits in the stockpile—which now numbers 3,882, according to DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)—date to 1978.”

In its 2018 Nuclear Policy Review, the Trump administration called for 80 new plutonium pits per year. Congress has also allocated large sums, with $4.7 billion alone allocated in FY 2019 for maintenance and life extension of the nuclear stockpile. The NNSA says it is legally mandated to ensure a capacity of at least 80 pits per year.

Though the production of nuclear cores has been an issue for years, a looming U.S.-Russia arms race makes the situation even more sensitive. Russia is fielding a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons, including a hypersonic nuclear-armed glider and an air-launched ballistic missile. The Trump administration has withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia, alleging Russian violations, leading to fears that a new competition will beget the return of nuclear-armed, medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

Anti-nuclear groups are furious. “Expanded pit production will cost at least $43 billion over the next 30 years,” argues the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups [Note: link is to the press release by Tri-Valley CAREs and other groups]. Yet the Defense Department and NNSA have never explained why expanded plutonium pit production is necessary. More than 15,000 plutonium pits are stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. Independent experts have concluded that plutonium pits have reliable lifetimes of at least 100 years (the average pit age is less than 40 years). Crucially, there is no pit production scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, proposed future pit production is for speculative new-design nuclear weapons, but those designs have been canceled.”

Introducing a new generation of nuclear weapons “could adversely impact national security because newly produced plutonium pits cannot be full-scale tested without violating the global nuclear weapons testing moratorium.”

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest.

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Regulator nixes NEPA reviews for plutonium production

January 20, 2020
Source:
GREENWIRE

By Bev Banks, reporter at E&E News

The National Nuclear Security Administration has decided that future plans for expanded nuclear weapons production do not need a programmatic environmental impact statement.

NNSA, a semiautonomous agency within the Department of Energy overseeing the national nuclear weapons stockpile, announced Jan. 8 via the Federal Register that "no further NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] documentation at a programmatic level is required" for expanded production of plutonium pits, the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons that play a critical role in detonation.

In an email to E&E News, Greg Wolf, the deputy director for the agency's public affairs office, said NNSA provided the public a chance to review its draft supplemental analysis released in June, and a "comprehensive programmatic review of production of plutonium" was conducted in 2008.

"After review of all comments, NNSA decided that all of the environmental consequences of production of 80 pits per year, at a programmatic level, had already been thoroughly evaluated, taking into account the passage of time and all other relevant factors," Wolf stated.

The Department of Defense 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for accelerated production of plutonium pits and no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030.

NNSA designated the Los Alamos National Laboratory for production of no fewer than 30 pits per year. In South Carolina, NNSA plans to repurpose the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site for the manufacture of at least 50 pits per year.

Wolf said NNSA will provide an opportunity for public participation "on whether to do another environmental impact statement (EIS) dealing with environmental impacts at Los Alamos and will provide opportunities for public input into its review of environmental impacts at Savannah River."

Sharon Squassoni, a research professor at George Washington University and former senior specialist in weapons of mass destruction for the Congressional Research Service, said NNSA may have eliminated the programmatic impact statement to streamline the process to meet production goals.

"Whenever you're dealing with a DOE facility, nothing happens quickly," Squassoni said. "So having to go through the environmental impact review would likely add years to this process, and my guess is that they feel like they don't have that time."

Wolf challenged this characterization and said NNSA's inclusion of public participation in future and past environmental impact analyses "is hardly a 'streamlined' process."

Squassoni noted that this type of decision is not surprising given President Trump's rollbacks of environmental regulations and his recent overhaul of NEPA (Energywire, Jan. 6).

"We've seen this before with the Trump administration in terms of ignoring the rules and moving forward," Squassoni said.

Watchdog groups consider lawsuit

In September, nuclear watchdog groups threatened legal action against NNSA if a programmatic environmental review was not conducted (Greenwire, Sept. 20, 2019).

"My group will look at the prospects of litigation very seriously," said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs), a grassroots organization that monitors nuclear activities at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Opponents of NNSA's decision said the agency is denying the public a chance to comment and thwarting NEPA without justification for aggressive plutonium pit production.

"Most fundamentally, NNSA is making a serious mistake," Kelley said. "They're flouting both the environmental law itself, NEPA, and the 1998 court order that Tri-Valley CAREs was a party to."

Kelley explained that NNSA's expansion of plutonium pits is tied to the creation of a new nuclear warhead, W87-1, at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

"Why are they proposing this now?" Kelley said. "The answer is the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is presently developing a new nuclear weapon that will have a plutonium pit design that is novel, meaning that it doesn't exist in the stockpile."

Nuclear Watch New Mexico Executive Director Jay Coghlan said NNSA's actions are both costly and perfunctory. The group follows nuclear facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory and advocates for greater government transparency of nuclear weapons programs.

"They're steamrolling this whole thing," Coghlan said. "NNSA has yet to offer a concrete justification or rationale for why expanded pit production is needed."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated a cost of $5.7 billion from 2020 to 2024 for the annual production of at least 80 pits. This is an additional $5 billion over CBO's original $9 billion estimate for 2019 through 2028.

By Bev Banks,

Rreporter at E&E News

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Local Antinuclear Activists Join in the Effort Against "Pit" Production

January 16, 2020
Source:
The Independent

By Jeff Garberson

Local antinuclear activists have joined colleagues at the national level to criticize the National Nuclear Security Administration as it makes plans to sharply increase its capacity for manufacturing the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons, commonly called pits.

At present, fewer than 20 pits are manufactured each year at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Actual production figures are classified.

Last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it plans by 2030 to increase Los Alamos production to at least 30 per year, while making at least 50 more per year in a facility to be built at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

NNSA is responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, from the design efforts at national laboratories like Lawrence Livermore, to manufacturing, transportation, maintenance and security.

No pit production is done at Lawrence Livermore or Sandia National laboratories.

Regarding NNSA’s plans, the activists are criticizing both the magnitude of the expected production increase and the agency’s decision that it need not carry out a programmatic environmental review as it proceeds.

That decision was conveyed in a Federal Register notice last week.

In a news release, the activists indicated they may take legal action in response.

To Marylia Kelley of Tri Valley CAREs, a Livermore-based protest organization founded in 1983, NNSA’s plan “flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act,” as well as a standing federal court order.

She said she is “shocked but not surprised that NNSA would so flagrantly flout the law.”

In a press release issued jointly with several other activist groups, she said Tri-Valley CAREs “stands ready to uphold NEPA and the specific court order.”

The National Environmental Policy Act has several fundamental values, including enhancing government transparency and allowing time for careful analysis prior to “an irretrievable commitment of resources,” she wrote in a follow-up email.

Her views are generally shared by the other groups identified in the press release: the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico and SRS Watch. (SRS is the acronym for the Savannah River Site.)

NNSA’s decision to increase pit production comes as no surprise. During congressional confirmation hearings two years ago, the head of the agency, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, called it NNSA’s “top priority.”

Its ranking in NNSA programs has been confirmed in recent public comments by her deputy, Charles Verdon.

Both Gordon-Hagerty and Verdon once worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gordon-Hagerty as a health physicist in the 1980s and Verdon as a nuclear engineer, who became principal associate director in 2013.

Pit production has been a challenge for the U.S. since closure of its Cold War manufacturing site, the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, in 1989.

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, a small replacement facility set up at Los Alamos never made more than 11 pits in a year, while 50 to 80 per year are considered necessary to maintain the U.S. arsenal.

The need for this level of production is challenged by the activist groups, who argue that the U.S. has thousands of viable pits stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant in Texas.

They also claim that the high cost of production – an estimated $43 billion over 30 years – would be much more constructively spent on social and economic needs than on nuclear weapons, which they see as a dangerous and destabilizing influence.

NNSA, on the other hand, considers expanded pit production as required both by White House policy -- for example, the Nuclear Policy Review, published in 2018 – and by national spending laws passed by Congress.

The agency “lacks discretion to consider alternatives outside of national policy,” NNSA has said in response to challenges.

A more specific complaint by the activists has to do with a particular warhead originally designed at LLNL, the W78, first deployed in 1979 and now being refurbished as the W87-1 with enhanced safety and security features. It is planned for deployment on Air Force ground-based missiles at the end of this decade.

In their press release, the activists allege that NNSA will modify the old warhead so extensively that the U.S. may have to return to full-scale nuclear testing to verify its performance, thus leading to a breakdown of international nonproliferation agreements. NNSA states that the warhead will be “certified without the need for additional underground nuclear explosive testing.”

By Jeff Garberson

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NNSA Moves to Expand Plutonium Pit Production

January 13, 2020
Source:
Secrecy News

By Steven Aftergood

The National Nuclear Security Administration said last week that it will proceed with a plan to sharply expand production of plutonium “pits” — the explosive triggers for thermonuclear weapons — without performing a full “programmatic” environmental review.

NNSA envisions producing “no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030,” including a minimum of 30 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a minimum of 50 pits per year at the Savannah River Site. Currently, “less than 20 per year” are produced, all at Los Alamos.

It is “NNSA’s determination that no further NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] documentation at a programmatic level is required,” the agency said in a January 8 Federal Register notice. (Site-specific assessments will still be prepared for plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Lab and the Savannah River Site.)

Environmental and anti-nuclear groups cried foul. “NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review,” said Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs.

In response to public comments challenging the basis for increased pit production, NNSA said that it is obliged by law to pursue the goal of producing “no fewer than 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030.” (The exact numbers are classified.)

“These requirements are contained in federal law and national policy,” the agency said. “Contentions that there is no need for new pits are not consistent with federal law, the 2018 NPR [Nuclear Posture Review], and national policy.”

That doesn’t mean that the new pit production goal is sensible (or achievable). “The 80 pits/year requirement comes from dividing 4,000 pits by 50 years,” said Frank von Hippel of Princeton University. “We have fewer than 2,000 pits deployed. Do we need to refabricate twice as many?” (See also “Why 80? Defense leaders discuss the need for plutonium pits,” Aiken Standard, December 28).

Meanwhile, Congress has substantially increased funding for new pit production. Details of recent budget action in this area were described in “Energy and Water Development Appropriations: Nuclear Weapons Activities,” Congressional Research Service, updated January 6, 2020 (see esp. “strategic materials,” pp. 10-11).

NNSA explained its view of the need to proceed with expanded pit production, including responses to public comments, in a December 2019 Final Supplement Analysis.

“The size and composition of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is determined annually by the President,” NNSA said. The agency “lacks discretion to consider alternatives outside of national policy.”

--Secrecy News is a publication of the American Federation of Scientists.

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LANL pit production: Agency says lab doesn't require thorough environmental review

January 10, 2020
Source:
Santa Fe New Mexican

By Scott Wyland

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s plans to forge ahead with producing plutonium cores for weapons without first conducting a comprehensive environmental review is drawing fire from watchdogs who say the agency is violating a 1998 court ruling.

No “programmatic environmental impact statement” on the possible effects of making 30 of the so-called plutonium pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory and 50 at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina is required because previous studies are sufficient, the agency announced Wednesday in the Federal Register.

In a December report, the nuclear agency said it will conduct site-specific reviews at the Los Alamos lab and Savannah River Site but doesn’t need to do a systemwide study on the effects of ramping up pit production.

“There are few differences in the potential environmental impacts on a programmatic basis associated with producing pits at two smaller capacity sites compared to producing the same number of pits at a single site,” said the December report, which was a supplement to a 2008 analysis of the pit program. “The primary difference is that smaller impacts would occur at two sites versus larger impacts at a single site.”

But critics contend the decision runs counter to a 1998 court order that requires a full environmental analysis when two or more sites are involved in pit production or when the National Nuclear Security Administration plans to manufacture more than 80 pits yearly. “The decision is flawed and incorrect and flouts the court order,” said Marylia Kelley, director of Tri-Valley CAREs, a nuclear watchdog group based in Livermore, Calif.

The Trump administration in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for producing at least 80 pits a year by 2030, with a capacity to create more of the cores. The agency is pushing for the lab to have capacity to produce 30 pits a year by 2026.

The agency not only wants the two sites to be capable of “surge efforts” that can go beyond 80 cores a year but to make 80 war reserve pits in addition to that, Kelley said. So clearly, she said, the production plans should trigger a full program review.

Conducting site-specific reviews is a way to slice the analysis into small segments and avoid looking at larger risks, such as transporting radioactive waste from South Carolina to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, Kelley said.

Two cross-country sites producing nuclear cores and radioactive waste is “going to impact the entire country,” she said.

A comprehensive review would assess all affected sites to get the full scope of possible environmental harm, said Geoff Fettus, senior environmental attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

It also would allow all affected communities, such as Los Alamos and South Carolina counties surrounding the Savannah River Site, to weigh in, Kelley said.

Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch in South Carolina, said the agency’s decision not to conduct a comprehensive environmental review is premature given it has yet to determine whether the stalled mixed oxide fuel plant at Savannah River, which would have converted weapons-grade plutonium commercial reactor fuel, can be converted to a pit-production facility.

Construction of the plant was shut down a year ago due to legal tussles and cost overruns.

The facility is beset with an array of problems, such as a defective central-air system, Clements said.

The 2008 review of the pit production program made a cursory analysis of how to handle two radioactive waste streams, and that was long before Savannah River was in the picture, he said.

“Their analysis … is woefully inadequate,” Clements said.

By Scott Wyland

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NNSA: No new programmatic environment study needed for plutonium pit production at LANL

January 10, 2020
Source:
New Mexico Political Report

By Kendra Chamberlain

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will not complete a programmatic study for environmental impacts of increased plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and one other lab located in South Carolina. The decision to not do so drew criticism from Nuclear Watch NM and other groups, who argue such assessments are required by law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and an existing court order.

Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear warheads where the chemical reactions occur that cause the warhead to detonate. The U.S. made thousands of cores during the Cold War, but pit production has all but stopped in the last thirty years.

Now, the federal government is getting ready to ramp up pit production in order to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and “assure the nation has a safe, secure and credible deterrent,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the NNSA Administrator, in a statement. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for at least 80 plutonium pits to be produced per year by 2030, with a target of 30 pits produced annually at LANL and 50 pits produced annually at Savannah River Site.

Under NEPA, a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) is required for broad agency actions, such as setting national policy. The NNSA said it completed a PEIS covering pit production activities in 2008, and decided a second programmatic review is not necessary.

The NNSA will complete an EIS for pit production at Savannah River Site, “because plutonium pit production using the proposed Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility at the site would be a new capability not previously analyzed,” the agency said.

The NNSA noted that it will include a supplement analysis (SA) to the existing site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) for pit production at LANL. The SA will determine whether additional NEPA review would be needed for increased plutonium pit production at the facility.

The decision, which came the same day the Donald Trump administration announced it would change how NEPA is implemented, has anti-nuclear groups worried.

“NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review,” said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CARE).

Kelley was referencing a 1998 court order requiring the Department of Energy to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year.

“There’s a long legal history here. But suffice it to say, it’s in everyone’s interest to carefully, and most of all publicly, assess whether it’s a good idea to aggressively expand the manufacturing of key components of nuclear weapons,” said National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior attorney Geoff Fettus. NRDC was involved in the 1998 litigation. “We have yet to see a meaningful response by NNSA to that order,” Fettus said.

The news comes after Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced the country would pull out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, which limited nuclear research and development in the country.

By Kendra Chamberlain,

Los Alamos

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US plutonium production plan likely to spur legal challenge

January 9, 2020
Source:
The Washington Post

By Susan Montoya Bryan | AP

By Susan Montoya Bryan | AP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year.

Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the nuclear agency.

Federal officials have set a deadline of 2030 for ramped-up core production, with work being split between Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. At stake are jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding that would be needed to revamp existing buildings or construct new factories to support the work.

The NNSA said it would prepare an environmental impact statement on core-making at Savannah River. A less extensive review is being done for Los Alamos, but watchdogs say that analysis will fall short of the nationwide public review required by such a significant proposal.

Lawyers for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment first threatened legal action last fall. They reiterated Thursday that a legal challenge is possible since the nuclear agency has declined to prepare a broader review.

“We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it,” said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Waste New Mexico.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Coghlan said the federal government should be considering credible alternatives to ensuring the reliability and sustainability of the nuclear arsenal rather than the rubber stamping of a “nukes forever” agenda that is funded by taxpayers.

While the NNSA’s decision comes as President Donald Trump on Thursday proposed overhauling the half-century old National Environmental Policy Act, the issues surrounding plutonium pit production have spanned multiple presidential administrations.

Elected leaders in New Mexico and South Carolina long have been jockeying for the lucrative mission. Some members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have resisted the nuclear agency’s plan, arguing that production should be centered at Los Alamos — the once-secret city in northern New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago as part of the Manhattan Project.

The mission of producing the cores has been based at Los Alamos for years but none have been made since 2011 as the lab has been dogged by a string of safety lapses and concerns about a lack of accountability.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico criticized the Trump administration Thursday for its proposed rollbacks, saying the environmental policy act is the only law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental and climate related consequences of federal actions. As for the plutonium project, the senior senator has yet to say whether he would support more environmental reviews.

This article was published by the Washington Post. It was distributed by the Associated Press wire service.

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DOE's Nuclear Agency Moving to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of Environmental Law and Court Order

January 9, 2020
Source:
EIN PRESSWIRE

By Tom Clements

Production of new plutonium pits for unneeded nuclear weapons poses risk of new nuclear arms race

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs Assert "Pit" Pursuit Violates National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

January 9, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

U.S. plutonium bomb core production ended in 1989 when the FBI raided the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver while investigating environmental crimes. In 1997, DOE relocated pit production to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico after completing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Production was capped at 20 pits per year.

In May 2018, the Defense Department and NNSA announced plans to increase pit production at LANL to at least 30 pits per year. In addition, the agency plans to establish redundant production of at least 50 pits per year at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina by repurposing the partially built MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility, a boondoggle that has already cost American taxpayers ~$7 billion. LANL has had chronic nuclear safety problems that shut down operations at its main plutonium facility for three years - the same facility slated for expanded operations.

Expanded pit production will cost at least $43 billion over the next 30 years. Yet the Defense Department and NNSA have never explained why expanded plutonium pit production is necessary. More than 15,000 plutonium pits are stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX. Independent experts have concluded that plutonium pits have reliable lifetimes of at least 100 years (the average pit age is less than 40 years). Crucially, there is no pit production scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, proposed future pit production is for speculative new-design nuclear weapons, but those design have been canceled.

NNSA’s latest rationale for new pit production is for a future “W87-1” warhead for the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. But whereas the W87 is an existing type of plutonium pit, according to NNSA budget documents the agency plans to produce future “W87-like” pits, leaving much room for modifications. That could adversely impact national security because newly produced plutonium pits cannot be full-scale tested without violating the global nuclear weapons testing moratorium.

The NEPA requires that proposed major federal actions be subject to environmental review, which federal executive agencies must undertake early in decision-making processes. Since 2003, NNSA has tried through two supplemental PEISs and two LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statements to expand plutonium pit production but failed each time.

NNSA now refuses to prepare the required PEIS for expanded pit production. The watchdog groups contend that is mandated for three reasons: 1) NNSA must formally raise the pit production cap established in the 1996 PEIS; 2) a second site is now involved; and 3) more than ample precedent exists for programmatic NEPA review of expanded plutonium pit production. And, the 1998 court order requires that DOE must prepare a supplemental PEIS when it plans on producing more than 80 pits/year.

Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director Marylia Kelley noted, “NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review. The order was obtained in prior litigation by Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of itself, Tri-Valley CAREs, and additional plaintiffs. I find myself shocked but not surprised that NNSA would so flagrantly flout the law. Use of a speculative untested pit in a new Livermore Lab-design warhead will degrade, not enhance, the safety and reliability of the U.S. stockpile. My group stands ready to uphold NEPA and the specific court order.”

“There’s a long legal history here,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Geoff Fettus. “But suffice it to say, it’s in everyone’s interest to carefully, and most of all publicly, assess whether it’s a good idea to aggressively expand the manufacturing of key components of nuclear weapons. There is a Federal Court order that directly addresses this issue. We have yet to see a meaningful response by NNSA to that order.”

Tom Clements of SRS Watch added, “NNSA is potentially facing a legal challenge for refusing to prepare the legally required over-arching environmental review of expanded pit production at Los Alamos and at the Savannah River Site, which has no previous pit manufacturing experience. Pursuit of the proposed Plutonium Bomb Plant at SRS is not only on shaky legal ground but the authorization and funding by Congress of all new pit production will be challenged this year and in subsequent years and is guaranteed to fail as DOE has repeatedly demonstrated that it is incapable of managing such complex projects.”

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico concluded, “We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it. Instead of aggressively modifying nuclear weapons the U.S. should carefully preserve its existing, reliable, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile while working toward a future world free of them. It’s that kind of analysis and consideration of credible alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act should give Americans instead of the nuclear weaponeers rubber stamping their self-interested agenda of nukes forever at the taxpayer’s expense.”

NNSA’s Federal Register Notice of Availability of Final Supplement Analysis, Jan.8: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-01-08/pdf/2020-00102.pdf

Final Supplement Analysis: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/01/f70/final-supplement-analysis-eis-0236-s4-sa-02-complex-transformation-12-2019.pdf

1998 court order requires DOE to prepare a supplemental PEIS when it plans to produce more than 80 pits/year: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp2/20/45/2423390/

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U.S. plutonium production plan likely to spur legal challenge

January 9, 2020
Source:
AlbuquerqueJournal

By Susan Montoya Bryan / AP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year. Government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the nuclear agency.

Federal officials have set a deadline of 2030 for ramped up core production, with work being split between Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern.

New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. At stake are jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding that would be needed to revamp existing buildings or construct new factories to support the work.

The NNSA said it would prepare an environmental impact statement on core-making at Savannah River. A less extensive review is being done for Los Alamos, but watchdogs say that analysis will fall short of the nationwide public review required by such a significant proposal.

Lawyers for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment first threatened legal action last fall. They reiterated Thursday that a legal challenge is possible since the nuclear agency has declined to prepare a broader review.

“We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it,” said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Waste New Mexico.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Coghlan said the federal government should be considering credible alternatives to ensuring the reliability and sustainability of the nuclear arsenal rather than the rubber stamping of a “nukes forever” agenda that is funded by taxpayers.

While the NNSA’s decision comes as President Donald Trump on Thursday proposed overhauling the half-century old National Environmental Policy Act, the issues surrounding plutonium pit production have spanned multiple presidential administrations.

Elected leaders in New Mexico and South Carolina long have been jockeying for the lucrative mission.

Some members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have resisted the nuclear agency’s plan, arguing that production should be centered at Los Alamos — the once-secret city in northern New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago as part of the Manhattan Project.

The mission of producing the cores has been based at Los Alamos for years but none have been made since 2011 as the lab has been dogged by a string of safety lapses and concerns about a lack of accountability.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico criticized the Trump administration Thursday for its proposed rollbacks, saying the environmental policy act is the only law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental and climate related consequences of federal actions.

As for the plutonium project, the senior senator has yet to say whether he would support more environmental reviews.

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Threat to health, environment

November 8, 2019
Source:
The Tracy Press

EDITOR,

As a longtime Tracy resident, I have enjoyed all of the city's beauty, friendly neighbors, and civic activities and celebrations offered over the years.

Sadly, there is a shadow that now looms over the residents of Tracy - a proposal to increase explosive bomb testing in the open air on the western edge of town.

Site 300 is Livermore Lab's high explosives testing range, located on Corral Hollow Road, very close to the new Tracy Hills housing development. Site 300's main mission is the development of nuclear weapons.

These outdoor detonations threaten human health and the environment because of the toxic materials involved. The contaminants get carried away with the wind. Some particles get deposited within the community and can cause health problems like asthma, cancer and other diseases.

The proposed action would increase the size of Site 300's outdoor blasts, which support nuclear weapons development, by a factor of 10, from 100 pounds of high explosives to 1,000 pounds a day. It would also increase the yearly limit from 1,000 pounds to 7,500 pounds.

Consider the short distance from Site 300 to your home. Consider, too, that the predominant wind pattern blows from Site 300 into Tracy and surrounding communities.

I urge my neighbors to protect their families and the community's air, land and water by learning more about this proposal and its implications to human health and our environment.

Tri-Valley CAREs and the Tracy Advisory Committee are holding a special community meeting on Wednesday, November 13, to update community residents on the status of plans to increase the size of bomb tests at Site 300. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at 902 N. Central Ave., Ste. 201, in Tracy. Spanish translation will be provided.

Gail Rieger,

Tracy

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Learn about Site 300 plans

November 1, 2019
Source:
The Tracy Press

EDITOR:

Did you know the city of Tracy borders an 11-square-mile experimental test site used for nuclear weapons development? This place is known as Site 300, and Livermore Lab operates it.

Site 300 conducts high-explosive tests out in the open air that threaten human health and our Tracy community. According to a Lab document, these tests use 121 hazardous materials that are released into the air. Once airborne, the toxic particles waft into town.

Livermore Lab has proposed to increase the size limit for high explosive compounds in open-air tests from 100 pounds per day to 1,000 pounds; that's a tenfold increase daily!

It doesn't stop there. The Lab also wants to increase the annual limit from 1,000 pounds of high explosives detonated in the open air to 7,500 pounds, a more than sevenfold increase yearly!

As a resident, I urge your participation in an informational community meeting on this alarming issue. Tri-Valley CAREs and the Tracy Advisory Committee will hold a free forum open to all interested residents at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 902 N. Central Ave., Ste. 201.

I will be there. I hope you will join me. If you are a Spanish speaker, I will provide translation. If you have any questions, please contact me in English or Spanish at 925-980-4975 or raiza@trivalleycares.org

Raiza Marciscano,

Tracy

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Expanding nuclear weapon production is reckless

By Marylia Kelley and Joseph Rodgers, opinion contributors — 10/08/19

Click here for the article or read below.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Behind closed doors, Congress is in the process of making a decision that will have a profound impact on nuclear risk levels and global security. Hanging in the balance is a decision to recklessly increase production of plutonium bomb cores or “pits.” The NDAA conference committee must not make that mistake.

Pits are the triggers for thermonuclear weapons. Currently, the United States does not manufacture plutonium pits on an industrial scale. In its fiscal 2020 budget request the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) seeks authorization to produce at least 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 at two facilities separated by some 1,500 miles. The Senate NDAA fully funds the request. The House instead authorizes 30 pits per year, all at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM. Los Alamos is presently authorized to produce 20 pits annually.

Plutonium pit production at such a large scale represents a major departure from our post-Cold War nuclear weapons policy. Since the Rocky Flats Plant in CO closed in 1989 following a raid by the FBI environmental crimes unit, the United States has produced pits at an annual rate of 11 or fewer. Further, there have been no orders for newly manufactured pits in nearly a decade.

Instead, the government has been utilizing some of the approximately 20,000 plutonium pits in storage at the Pantex Plant in Texas to conduct its ongoing warhead maintenance and refurbishment programs. These pits have very long lifetimes. JASON, a DOD organized group of independent scientific experts, estimated that plutonium pits will last 100 years or more.

Clearly, the Senate NDAA is not meant to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, future production is intended to enable modified pit designs for new-design warheads, contrary to longstanding U.S. arms control objectives. Given the current moratorium on explosive testing of nuclear weapons, those pits cannot be full-scale tested or, alternatively, could prompt the United States to return to nuclear testing. This would have international proliferation consequences beyond anything we’ve seen since the most dangerous days of the Cold War.

As if to confirm that this is the ultimate plan, NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab has already begun to create a warhead, called the W87-1, that goes beyond previously-tested limits. The design that Livermore is pursuing contains a novel plutonium pit, unlike any pits in the stockpile or in storage at Pantex. The W87-1 is slated go on top of a new-design intercontinental ballistic missile, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. It too is controversial due to unknowns regarding its pending cost, schedule, and significant integration challenges to accommodate the new warhead.

Further, the 80 pit per year capability will not be reachable in the time frame NNSA posits, and its facilities may not be able to operate properly at that production rate. A Pentagon-funded report by the Institute for Defense Analyses in 2019 concluded that 80 pits per year is not achievable “on the schedules or budgets currently forecasted” by the NNSA. This problem is compounded by the fact that the Savannah River Site in SC, NNSA’s proposed location to produce 50 of the 80 pits annually, has been plagued with decades of cost overruns and mismanagement. Additionally, Los Alamos’s pit production capability has been crippled by safety lapses, even at the lower rate.

Placing a novel warhead design in the active nuclear weapons stockpile with a substantially untested pit is irresponsible. Rapidly increasing production at sites with spotty records compounds that error with added safety hazards. Increasing plutonium pit production to a rate of 80 or more annually is both reckless and unnecessary.

The Conference Committee can follow the Senate approach that heedlessly increases our country’s risk levels. Alternatively, it can follow a more rational approach to nuclear security by supporting the House NDAA that restricts select funding for nuclear weapons production and deployment — including for expanded plutonium pit production.

Marylia Kelley is the executive director of the Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs. For 36 years she has monitored the programs, capabilities and budgets of U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including at Livermore Lab. She has provided testimony on nuclear weapons design and production before the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress and the California State Legislature. In 2002, she was inducted into the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame.

Joseph Rodgers is a nuclear nonproliferation specialist in Washington, D.C. He has worked with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Tri-Valley CAREs, and the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

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House Bill is Superior

September 26, 2019
Source:
The Independent

EDITOR:

The House and Senate each passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, with stark differences between the two bills.

The Senate version provides full funding for the new nuclear warheads including the so-called low yield W76-2, the novel W87-1 that would require a new-design plutonium core, and the B83 megaton-class bomb that had been scheduled for retirement. It also approves the NNSA's request for the production of 80 new plutonium pits per year, and increases the President's budget request for a new missile, called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, by adding $22 million to the more than half a billion requested.

The House version of the NDAA, by contrast, stops funds for the deployment of W76-2 warhead, reduces funds for W87-1 by $59 million, and cuts the B83 by more than $29 million. It also authorizes pit production at a more modest rate of 30 cores per year (up from the 20 per year currently authorized).

In addition to this, the House version requires cost studies for modernization efforts, and expresses support for extending "New START," the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that, as the name implies, caps the number of long-range nuclear weapons the United States and Russia can deploy.

While not perfect, the House bill is clearly superior to the Senate bill, and should be supported.

Anyone who wants to get involved can call the Armed Services committee chairs. The Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.

Brendan Phillips,

Dublin

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Groups threaten to sue over nuclear weapons work at US labs

September 19, 2019
Source:
The Washington Post

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - Nuclear watchdog groups say they will sue if the U.S. government doesn't conduct a nationwide programmatic environmental review of its plans to expand production of key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Federal officials have set a deadline of 2030 for ramped-up production of plutonium pits. The work will be split between Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Lawyers for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment threatened legal action in a letter sent this week to officials.

In June, the National Nuclear Security Administration said it would prepare an environmental impact statement on pit-making at Savannah River. A less extensive review was planned for Los Alamos.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Written by the Associated Press; this version appeared in the Washington Post.

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Inside Glimpse into Livermore Lab Watchdog

August 27, 2019
Source:
Physics Today

Q&A: Marylia Kelley, Lawrence Livermore watchdog

The longtime nuclear disarmament activist says that even those who don’t share her agenda believe the organization she cofounded, Tri-Valley CAREs, plays a vital role.

David Kramer

On 6 August, Marylia Kelley stood in front of the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and spoke at an event commemorating the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Organizing the annual demonstration is one of many tasks for the executive director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs, or TVC for short).

Marylia Kelley.

Kelley cofounded TVC in 1983 to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons and to serve as a watchdog for the Livermore lab, which is one of two facilities where all US nuclear weapons have been designed (Los Alamos National Laboratory is the other). Since then TVC has scrutinized, and in many cases opposed, activities at Livermore, including construction of the world’s largest and most energetic laser, the National Ignition Facility (NIF).

PT: How did you become an activist?

KELLEY: I moved to Livermore in 1976 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. I thought of it as an adorable, relatively small community near Berkeley with lots of parks and soccer for my son. I only slowly came to understand that I was living in a community where US nuclear weapons are designed. Back then there wasn’t much talk in the community about Livermore lab and what it did.

After a couple years of reflection, reading, analysis, and research, I concluded that nuclear weapons were immoral and their use would be immoral by anyone under any circumstance. After a while, there came an opportunity to cofound an organization in Livermore that would become a watchdog of the lab and, over the years, of the weapons complex more broadly. The initial group included a computer scientist from Sandia National Laboratories [which designs all the nonnuclear components of US nuclear warheads], a human resources specialist, and a retiree from Livermore lab. This was in 1983. We’ve always represented a broad cross section of the community.

PT: What were your original goals, and how have they changed over the years?

KELLEY: Our goal was always to educate ourselves and the community about the nuclear weapons and related programs at the lab. And to be a watchdog. The lab in the 1980s was planning a huge incinerator for radioactive and toxic waste, and lab officials credited Tri-Valley CAREs with stopping it. One of the biggest successes is more amorphous: changing the culture in Livermore and making it okay to talk about the laboratory. We pierced the veil of secrecy and made the science and operations of the lab more democratic and open for discussion. We inserted the idea that workers and the public have a right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

PT: You mentioned you’ve broadened your focus to cover the rest of the nuclear weapons complex over the years.

KELLEY: We’ve taken the results of our research on Livermore lab and the weapons they are designing to Congress, the United Nations, and other venues, where that information was used in making decisions. TVC played a key role in the debate in 2002–3 over whether the US should develop a robust nuclear earth-penetrator bomb. That was going to be an adaptation of the Livermore-designed B-83 bomb [the last megaton-class warhead remaining in the stockpile]. We were a huge part of why that weapon was never developed.

PT: Do you think things would have been quite a bit different without your activism?

KELLEY: Yes, both for the community and nationally. TVC has also joined national and international networks, including the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, which is made up of other watchdog groups around all the major NNSA facilities. [The National Nuclear Security Administration is the Department of Energy division that runs the nuclear weapons complex.] Internationally we are members of the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, ICAN, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

PT: After all these years, do you still think nuclear weapons are immoral?

KELLEY: Yes, my views haven’t changed. But on a personal note, my respect for science has increased enormously through this job. I came at this with a journalist’s background.

PT: When they hear “Livermore,” many people think of NIF. Can you discuss your concerns with it?

KELLEY: Part of my critique of the lab is when politics and the desire for money trump good science. TVC is not opposed to lasers. But from a scientific perspective, the lab was not ready to build NIF. The planners pursued a design build, which means trying to solve problems during construction. NIF’s scientific and technical problems are still not worked out, even though we have invested well over $10 billion in it. [Lab spokesperson Lynda Seaver says that NIF, which was completed in 2009, cost $3.5 billion to build and has an annual operating budget of $344 million.]

LLNL panorama.
A panorama of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Credit: LLNL

From a peace and security perspective, NIF comes with a vertical proliferation risk. Currently it is doing experiments using plutonium. You may recall public pronouncements early on that researchers would not use plutonium in NIF. Then, in a 2005 environmental impact study [EIS], it was stated they would create an internal containment vessel for the plutonium experiments. They worked on one for years but couldn’t get it to work. So there is no containment vessel. They decided to make it compliant with the EIS by using smaller samples of plutonium and using the plutonium-242 isotope instead of plutonium-239. They also use beryllium and other toxic materials that get vaporized. They have to send workers in there to clean it. They’re being exposed to this stuff. [Seaver says NIF was designed to conduct shots using radioactive materials, with the debris contained within built-in shielding.]

I asked weapons designers if they would change something in a weapon based on the results of a NIF experiment with a small sample of plutonium-242. One of them told me he would never use anything they came up with on what he’s doing in weapons design. But less conservative weapons designers might.

There is a tremendous danger that with the data from NIF they can walk a weapon away from what was fully tested in Nevada. They’re in double danger because they are using experiments on NIF to change weapons codes that are at the heart of weapons development. It’s pushing designs in a way that is incredibly dangerous. If the US wants nuclear weapons far away from the designs that were tested, it will increase pressure to resume testing. Then we are completely back into a Cold War–style arms race. [Seaver declined to respond to statements about weapons design.]

PT: Over the past few decades, the issue of whether the US really needs two laboratories that design nuclear weapons has been debated several times. And Livermore has always been discussed as the one that could go.

KELLEY: NIF was part of a deliberate push by former lab directors to keep Livermore a full-service nuclear design lab, at a time when the lab could have transitioned in a way similar to what Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had done earlier. Berkeley was part of the Manhattan Project, yet for decades it has done no classified research. Now they do world-class science. That’s the fate Livermore saved itself from. It hung on for dear life to its glory days as a nuclear weapons lab.

It was Livermore that came up with the interoperable warhead [proposed for both land-based and submarine-launched missiles]. They’ve changed the name of that program to W87-1. It’s a fully new design that will walk the US away from the pedigree of weapons that were tested. It is what is keeping Livermore a nuclear design lab for the foreseeable future. That’s the real motivation. It’s the tail that’s wagging the dog of US nuclear weapons policy.

PT: Do you think a new warhead would be placed into the arsenal without being tested?

KELLEY: They say they can make a new warhead without testing. But when it gets to the certification process, they are going to face an unacceptable choice: You either certify something for the arsenal that is less reliable than the warhead it’s replacing, or you resume testing in Nevada at some yield to proof test it.

PT: What role do physicists play in your organization?

KELLEY: We have always had scientists, including physicists, as part of our membership, and others from the lab who are informal advisers. Before we conclude whether our group will support, oppose, or pass on something, we try to investigate the science and technology questions. Scientists will often explain things in an unclassified manner, which promotes democracy by helping all our group members understand the underlying science better. They will also at times share questions that can and should be asked.

Marylia Kelley meets with Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Marylia Kelley (center) meets with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA; left) to discuss the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Credit: Tri-Valley CAREs

It’s also true that whether they agree with our mission or not, lab scientists agree there needs to be an outside body looking in at the lab. I had a lab guy come to a meeting with unclassified pictures of nuclear testing. The individual wasn’t convinced that we should be working toward a world free of nuclear weapons, but he was absolutely convinced that our organization plays a unique and important role in shining a light of truth and openness into the lab.

PT: To what extent do the scientists talk to you on the record, versus remaining anonymous?

KELLEY: It depends on the individual and whether that person is working at the lab. I know a scientist whose wife was part of Tri-Valley CAREs. When the lab found out, he was taken into the hall by his boss and told he would never advance. He left and went to the University of Michigan. We’ve lost some of our best members when scientists have left the lab for reasons of conscience, or as in this case. The amount of social control at the lab is extreme. Which is antithetical to good science. [Seaver says the lab is unaware of such incidents and that lab employees are free to express their personal views.]

PT: How has your relationship with the lab and NNSA changed over the years?

KELLEY: My relationship with the lab and with NNSA and Lawrence Livermore management has never been a monolith. The contract to manage the lab used to be held solely by the University of California. Now it’s a for-profit LLC. That change didn’t solve the problems it was supposed to solve, and it has brought its own set of problems. Information that used to be public and available through the California Public Records Act is no longer gettable, so we only have the federal Freedom of Information Act.

PT: How would you assess the current NNSA management?

KELLEY: I’m not certain if the terms dysfunctional and bureaucracy belong together in the same sentence, but in this instance they do. I have no particular animosity, but NNSA seems to be internally dysfunctional, and different parts of it appear to be working at almost cross-purposes. It’s an extremely political organization, where power and politics play a huge role in decision making. That’s always been true, but it’s truer in the current administration. NNSA has become opaquer under the Trump administration. I can’t get meetings with NNSA officials as regularly, and when I do, they aren’t always with high-level officials.

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190823a/full/

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Support Global Peace and Fiscal Responsibility

August, 22, 2019
Source:
The Independent

The Department of Energy is now considering plans for the production of 80 new plutonium bomb cores every year, despite the redundancy and high cost that such a project would entail. The plan is in accordance to Donald Trump's 2018 nuclear posture review, which in addition to demanding new pit production, has designs for newer, deadlier bombs.

New pit production is unnecessary however, since the United States already has up to 20,000 pits in reserve at the Department of Energy's Pantex site in Texas - each with a credible lifetime use of up to 100 years after production. Additionally, the United States already has 1750 deployed nuclear weapons and another 2000 in active reserve. It's unclear how pursuing policy of brinksmanship helps our national security interests, or why we need new warheads given the overwhelming firepower already have.

The six billion dollar project is a reflection of ignorance on the part of our current administration, and should be opposed by all who care about global peace, or fiscal responsibility.

Brendan Phillips,

Dublin

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Eye-opening anniversary

August 16, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

It was an honor to have attended the Hiroshima Day this past Aug. 6 to mark the 74th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Livermore Lab. It was an amazing experience to hear Rev. Hanaoka and Mr. Ellsberg speak about their experiences and the budget of billions of dollars the Trump administration is spending to create new nuclear warheads at the Livermore Lab.

Rev. Hanaoka spoke about his horrible experience just when he was an infant and even though he doesn't remember, the traumatic experience that followed his early years are still imprinted in his memory. His mother and sister died due to the radiation poisoning and his brother died from illnesses linked to radiation poisoning, dying at only 35. Rev. Hanaoka has dedicated his entire life to speak that peace is the way.

Daniel Ellsberg helped speed the end of the Vietnam War and called the ICBM missiles the new warhead is to arm "the most dangerous weapons in the world." He said that we are still capable of extinguishing most human life and the life of animals that can't adapt.

Tri-Valley CAREs was also present. The shocking opening of Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley's words still remain in my head when she said: "Imagine for a moment that you live in Hiroshima, Japan, 74 years ago today is Aug. 6 at 8:15 in the morning, then you see the flash, borscht red, brighter than the sun, then comes the sound, the boom, boom, the buildings begin to crumble." It was an eye opener of the true reality and the frightening experience that innocent people had to endure (and still do).

It is time to say "Never Again" while we address the current day U.S. nuclear weapons being developed at Livermore Lab.

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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On anniversary of Hiroshima, demands for end to nuclear weapons

August 9, 2019
Source:
People's World

LIVERMORE, Calif. - Determined to oppose the Trump administration's drive to develop new nuclear weapons and to strengthen the fight to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, some 200 demonstrators gathered here on Aug. 6 to rally against what they term "Designing Armageddon" at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Over three dozen peace, justice and faith-based organizations joined Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (Tri-Valley CAREs), Western States Legal Foundation and the Livermore Conversion Project in cosponsoring the action.

As they commemorated the anniversaries of the bombings that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945 and mourned the enormous loss of life there, speakers and protesters examined the ways Livermore Lab is contributing to the administration's growing emphasis on upgrading and expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This expansion, together with U.S. abrogation of longstanding nuclear weapons treaties, increasingly poses an existential threat to the entire world, they said.

Reverend Nobuaki Hanaoka, a retired Methodist minister now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, was an infant living on the outskirts of Nagasaki the day that city was bombed. The blast knocked down most buildings within a few miles of Ground Zero, he said, instantly killing tens of thousands. The fireball that followed engulfed the whole city and radioactive fallout contaminated air, water and all available food, resulting in a spiral of deaths that continued for years, ultimately reaching close to a quarter million.

Though his father moved the family to a different city, Hanaoka said that as far back as he could recall, his mother and sister were in bed, pale and weak from the leukemia which soon took their lives. As a child, Hanaoka overheard a doctor say he himself might not reach his tenth birthday.

Hanaoka pointed out that the bombs that wiped out Hiroshima and Nagasaki, equivalent to 15 and to 22 kilotons of TNT respectively, represent a tiny fraction of the power of today's 10 to 25 megaton weapons.

"Let us remind ourselves again that nuclear weapons are the most evil, immoral, inhumane, heinous, destructive indiscriminate murder machines that could drive the entire planet to Armageddon," Hanaoka said. "Let us renew our commitment today to the vision of a peaceful, compassionate, nuclear-free world."

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs executive director, began with a note of hope as she cited the July 31 ratification by St. Vincent & the Grenadines of the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which now has 24 of the 50 ratifications required to enter fully into force.

"But," Kelley said, "as you well know, we also gather at a time of grave and growing nuclear dangers." She cited President Trump's termination Aug. 2 of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which had banned an entire class of weapons, and has long been seen as pivotal to nuclear arms agreements as a whole. She cited Trump's repeated references to the possible first use of nuclear weapons.

Kelley told the gathering that Livermore Lab "is enabling the nuclear Armageddon that Trump so blithely considers," as it develops new warheads, including the W87-1, designed to sit atop a new land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile being developed by the Pentagon.

Picking up on Kelley's remarks, keynote speaker Daniel Ellsberg - the whistleblower whose 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers helped speed the end of the Vietnam War - called the ICBM missiles the new warhead is to arm, "the most dangerous weapons in the world."

Ellsworth urged that nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war be emphasized as "the other existential crisis," side by side with climate change, and called on participants to spend the coming year working to convince Democratic candidates for the presidency, House and Senate that the threat of nuclear war is an existential emergency.

"We're still living with the possibility of extinguishing most human life and all the life of other species larger than a squirrel and smaller than us, who can't adapt," he said.

Next year," Ellsworth pledged, "I will find where the workers are getting into that plant, and try to disturb business as usual, because nuclear weapons must not be made in this country without having to arrest Americans to do it. Combined with all the other work, we may change this planet."

Dr. Sharat Lin, a medical radiation scientist, researcher and past president of the San Jose Peace and Justice Center, emphasized the contradiction between the U.S.' simultaneous efforts to denuclearize North Korea and to upgrade its own nuclear weapons. "It's absolutely hypocritical for this country to call on others to denuclearize, when we are in fact increasing the power of our nuclear arsenal," he said.

Of North Korea's insistence on small, reciprocal steps, Lin said, "If this were done with both sides taking small steps, we could certainly reach a successful conclusion, as well as bringing North Korea back into the community of nations."

Similarly, he said, a more constructive way to approach Iran - which has been on the same side with us against ISIS and Al Qaida - would be to end the sanctions, restore diplomatic recognition, and to work with Iran as well as North Korea, "in the community of nations and toward peace."

Western States Legal Foundation's executive director Jacqueline Cabasso called on rally participants to spread the word about the resolution passed unanimously by the U.S. Conference of Mayors last month, calling on all presidential candidates to make their positions known on nuclear weapons, and to pledge U.S. global leadership in preventing nuclear war, returning to diplomacy, and negotiating the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Following the rally, demonstrators marched to the lab's West Gate, where they joined in a Japanese ceremonial dance, held a "die-in," left chalk outlines of their bodies near the gate, and witnessed or joined in the voluntary arrests of over 40 protesters, who were cited and released.

Among other rally speakers were Berkeley Poet Laureate Rafael Gonzalez, Code PINK and transgender activist Roxanne, Phyllis Olin of Western States Legal Foundation and Grace Morizawa of the Livermore Conversion Project.

MCs were Andrew Kodama and Julia Malakiman, executive directors of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, respectively.

Marilyn Bechtel,

San Francisco

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Tri-Valley CAREs on KPFA

August 7, 2019
Source:
KPFA

0:08 - KPFA's Sean Flannely reports on protests at the Lawrence Livermore Lab over the development of nuclear weapons on the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings.

Listen to Tri-Valley CAREs' Excecutive Director Marylia Kelley so passionately speak on this day at 10:40 minute.

Listen to the broadcast here.

Sean Flannely,

Berkeley

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Designing Armageddon at Livermore Lab

August 6, 2019
Source:
Diablo Magazine

Rally, march, and the opportunity to peaceably risk arrest to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the place where new nuclear weapons are being created today. The resurgent risks of nuclear war and unresolved climate danger have caused the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to keep the Doomsday Clock of the Atomic Scientists to keep it set at 2 minutes before the apocalyptic midnight hour. Join us to to transform U.S. policy from violence to Peace.

8 AM rally. Speakers include keynote Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who released "The Pentagon Papers." Formerly an analyst at RAND Corp. and a consultant to the Defense Dept., specializing in the command and control of nuclear weapons, war plans and crisis decision-making. Also speaking will be Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka who was an infant when the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. His mother and sister died from illnesses linked to radiation poisoning and his brother died at age 39 from premature aging associated with fallout from the bomb. Rafael Jesus Gonzales, the first poet-laureate of Berkeley, and Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs will also be featured. Join us to say "Never again" to the use of nuclear weapons - and to call for their global abolition. Music by Oakland Mind.

9:30 March and Action. Join the procession to the Livermore Lab West Gate to block the entrance with a Japanese bon dance and symbolic die-in. Following the die-in those who choose will peaceably risk arrest.

Reserve your free van pool from the Dublin-Pleasonton BART Station to the rally sites at www.trivalleycares.org or call 925-443-7148. Space is limited so reserve early.

Camping is available at a Peace Camp at Lake Del Valle. Contact scott@trivalley cares. org to RSVP.

All ages welcome!

Presented by Livermore Conversion Project

Marylia Kelley,

Livermore

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Activists Commemorate Atomic Bomb Anniversary With Protest

August 6, 2019
Source:
San Francisco Chronicle

LIVERMORE (BCN)

An activist group based in Livermore rallied Tuesday against the production of new nuclear weapons at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, or Tri-Valley CAREs, demonstrated outside the lab, commemorating the 74th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The participants marched to the gates of the lab and outlined their bodies on the ground to commemorate the vaporized shadows found after the atomic bombings in 1945.

More than 80% of the lab's fiscal year 2020 budget is allocated to nuclear weapons activities and the program is expected to receive $167 million more in 2020 than in 2019. Activist groups participating in the rally are demanding "global abolishment" of nuclear weapons.

Bay City News Service,

San Francisco

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Protesters detained at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

August 6, 2019
Source:
East Bay Times

By Aric Crabb

Protesters gathered at the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Monday morning to dance, chant, and hold a "die in" on the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A group of more then fifty community members marched from the corner of Vasco and Patterson Pass roads a short distance to the West Gate Drive entrance of the lab.

The protesters were met by a closed gate and a small number of police officers from Livermore along with members of the National Nuclear Security Administration's Protective Force unit.

After a short time Livermore police declared an unlawful gathering, and ordered the group to disperse. Instead protesters gathered at the gate to be detained one by one. They were searched, processed, and released in quick order, during what has become an annual event at the lab.

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42 Demonstrators Arrested During Livermore Lab Protest

August 6, 2019
Source:
Livermore Patch

The "Designing Armageddon at Livermore Lab" rally marked the 74th anniversary of the U.S. bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

LIVERMORE, CA - A protest at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Tuesday to remember the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago this week resulted in 42 arrests, according to a company spokesperson.

Those arrested were blocking LLNL's West Gate, said Lynda Seaver, LLNC's director of public affairs.

Just over 100 people turned out for the annual rally organized by Livermore-based Tri-Valley Cares. Dubbed the "Designing Armageddon at Livermore Lab" peace rally, the event began at 8 a.m. and was followed by a march to the Lab's West Gate, where a Japanese bon dance called in "the ancestors and the outlining of bodies on pavement [to] commemorate the vaporized shadows found after the atomic bombings," a Tri-Valley Cares press release said.

Tri-Valley Cares executive director Marylia Kelley confirmed Tuesday's arrests, although her group counted 43. The event was over by around 11:30 a.m., she said.

Those arrested were cited and released, according to Seaver.

The denunciation and worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons was the theme of Tuesday's rally that marked Hiroshima Day, and Tri-Valley Cares warned arrests were possible.

"It is imperative to gather at Livermore Lab on the date a nuclear weapon was first used in war to stop the creation of new warheads proposed by President Trump," the Tri-Valley Cares press release continued.

Seaver characterized the annual event as peaceful and "fairly low-key," with singing, dancing and a few speeches.

The lineup of speakers for this year's event included, among others, Nobuaki Hanaoka, who was an infant in Nagasaki when the bomb fell there on August 9, 1945. He lost immediate family members and now speaks on peace and human rights.

Daniel Ellsberg, an activist best known for his release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner," was the rally's keynote speaker.

Watch YouTube clip of Protestors blocking the gates of Livermore Lab on August 6th 2013

Toni McAllister,

Patch Staff

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Rally for Nuclear Disarmament

Friday, August 2, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

The people of California care about this planet and we have the right to address the U.S. atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the context of Trump"s threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea and the unresolved climate danger.

We are at a critical place where nuclear danger is escalating; fortunately, there is also escalating pressure for global nuclear disarmament. Today, a great number of nations say that nuclear weapons are unacceptable, they are illegal, and we must work toward their complete elimination.

On Aug. 6, there will be a rally, march, and nonviolent action for nuclear disarmament. We will have the opportunity to hear A-bomb survivor Nobuaki Hanaoka and famed author and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Mr. Hanaoka is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, and a retired minister. Mr. Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon war planner, released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, a top-secret Department of Defense study of U.S. political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. He has been a dedicated campaigner for disarmament ever since. As a speaker of the upcoming rally, Mr. Ellsberg will point out that the atomic bombs ultimately killed around 300,000 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We are proud that Rev. Hanaoka and Mr. Ellsberg will speak to us on Hiroshima Day, Aug. 6, at 8 a.m. at the corner of Vasco and Patterson Pass roads in Livermore.

You are invited and welcome to come and join us on this important date. Thank you!

Raiza Marciscano,

Tracy

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Tri-Valley CAREs on KZFR re: Nuclear Dangers, Activism and Hiroshima Day at Livermore Lab

Friday, July 26, 2019
Source:
KZFR Radio Peace and Justice Program

Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director Marylia Kelley is interviewed by KZFR's Peace and Justice Program Host Chris Nelson on nuclear weapons in the Trump Administration, the drive for new plutonium pits (bomb cores) and the upcoming action for nuclear disarmament on August 6, 2019 at Livermore Lab. The interview is 30 minutes.

Listen the full broadcast...





Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing Commemoration

July 25, 2019
Source:
The Independent Newspaper - Mailbox, Page 4

EDITOR,

Seventy-four years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the unsuspecting civilian population of Hiroshima, and three days later we unleashed a second atomic bomb on the residents of Nagasaki.

Schools, homes and families were incinerated in Hiroshima. Nearly 100,000 residents perished immediately, and more than 140,000 men, women and children died within five months. Many thousands more suffered lingering deaths from radiation poisoning in the months and years that followed. Nuclear radiation is an indiscriminate killer.

The nuclear age was ushered in by the blood of the Japanese people. Debates still rage about whether this was what ended World War II. Not debatable is the devastation wrought upon regular people going about their daily routines: children in classrooms, babies in arms, women shopping for food, men working.

Along with others, I remember and commemorate those lost on this anniversary. We stand up to today's warmongers and promise "never again." We protest continued nuclear development and dedicate ourselves to the global abolition of these weapons that endanger us all. We bow our heads and pray for peace.

I invite my Tri-Valley neighbors to join me in this ardent effort to eliminate the most inhumane weapons on the planet.

Together, we can change the mission of the Lawrence Livermore laboratory from its current focus on new nuclear bomb design to a civilian scientific purpose instead - and to the necessary cleanup of the toxic and radioactive legacy of the nuclear age.

On Tuesday, August 6, at 8 a.m., I will gather with others at the northwest corner of the Lab at Patterson Pass and Vasco Roads in Livermore to hear from an A-bomb survivor Nobuaki Hanaoka, and whistleblower and former defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg.

After the rally, I plan to walk to the West Gate to participate in a Japanese Bon dance and commemorative "die in." I will use my presence to promote peace. I hope you will join me.

Jo Ann Frisch,

Pleasanton

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How serious will the next incident at the Livermore Lab be?

July 6, 2019
Source:
East Bay Times

EDITOR,

I recently joined Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment as a legal intern. CAREs is a nonprofit watchdog organization that has monitored the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for over 30 years. Already I have learned things about LLNL that concern me as a resident.

In May 2018, there was an issue with the ventilation system in Building 132, which was causing fumes to be taken in and filtered back into the same building.

RAt LLNL's high explosive testing facility at Site 300 in Tracy, there were six violations found by the San Joaquin County Department of Environmental Health found in 2018.

But perhaps the most alarming report was in September 2018 when a Class III curium-224 source (a radioactive material) went missing.

The question is not if there will be more accidents, but when and how serious will they be. I am relieved that CAREs is watching out.

Nick Bastovan,

Livermore

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Unusual Occurrences at LLNL

July, 4, 2019
Source:
The Independent

EDITOR,

I recently joined Tri-Valley CAREs as a legal intern. CAREs is a nonprofit watchdog organization that has monitored the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for over 30 years. Already I have learned things about LLNL that concern me as a resident of this community. I reviewed LLNL's 34 Unusual Occurrence Reports that were generated in 2018, and the following three were particularly serious.

In May 2018, there was an issue with the ventilation system in Building 132, which was causing fumes to be taken into the ventilation system only to be filtered back into the same building. This recirculation of harmful fumes had persisted for "some time" with various workers complaining of a strong chemical odor. However, it was not addressed, and there is no indication as to whether worker exposure was evaluated.

At LLNL's high explosive testing facility at Site 300 in Tracy, there were six separate violations in an inspection by the San Joaquin County Department of Environmental Health found in 2018, including the failure to implement the spill prevention, control and countermeasures plan for the site. What is also alarming is that just two years ago, LLNL was granted a new Hazardous Waste Permit and it currently seeks to expand bomb blasting.

Perhaps the most alarming report was in September 2018 when a class III curium-224 source (a radioactive material) went missing in Building 194. It was determined that this radioactive material had been missing since June of that year, and it took LLNL three months to notice that it was missing. What is even more concerning is that this dangerous material has still not been located.

I have filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking more information about these accidents for CAREs. The question is not if there will be more accidents, but when and how serious will they be.

I am relieved that CAREs is watching out. Check out their work at www.trivalleycares.org.

Nick Bastovan,

Livermore

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Action Against Nuclear Weapons

July 4, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Tri-Valley CAREs was in Washington!

Marylia Kelley, Vecky Elliott, Inga Olson and Barbara Dyskant represented Tri-Valley CAREs in Washington, D.C., the week of May 20. Our team was there for the national Alliance for Nuclear Accountability's 31st annual "DC Days." They were joined in the nation's capital by 65 activists that are directly affected by U.S. nuclear weapons sites. Together, they held more than 90 scheduled meetings with Congress and administration officials.

They focused on decision makers with authority over weapons policy and nuclear pollution as both issues have grave consequences for our members who live near the Livermore Lab main site and its Site 300 high explosives testing range in Tracy.

To read more go to:

http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/DCDaysSnapshots2019.html

For DC Days factsheet on weapons:

http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/Weapons&Policy2019.pdf

For DC Days factsheet on waste:

http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/Cleanup&Waste2019.pdf

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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Forum addresses plutonium pit expansion at SRS

June 14, 2019
Source:
The Augusta Chronicle

AIKEN — A forum regarding the Department of Energy’s proposed expanded production of plutonium pits at Savannah River Site was held Friday evening.

About 70 people gathered in the auditorium of the Aiken Municipal Building to hear speakers present information against the proposal and encourage the public to write to their representatives in opposition to the plan.

The Department of Energy has proposed to use the former Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as the location to produce about 50 plutonium pits per year. The pits make up the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch, said the department should not rush into a new project at the MOX plant, which was shut down in October.

“They just bungled that project they’re rushing into a new mission for it, this is a recipe for failure,” Clements said. “What needs to be done is Congress needs to engage in a full scope investigation into fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement and what happened with that bungled project.”

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Watchdog group holds forum in opposition of SRS plutonium production

June 14, 2019
Source:
AIKEN, SC WXFG TV, Augusta, GA

The debate over plutonium at Savannah River Site continues. Friday night in Aiken, those against production involving the nuclear material held a public forum.

More than 50 people came out to listen to speakers and learn more. This all comes after the Department of Energy announced plans to use the old MOX facility as a production plant for plutonium pits, which are essentially the cores of nuclear weapons.

Photo of some bombs and nuclear weapons on display at the public forum.

Photo of some bombs and nuclear weapons on display at the public forum. (Source: Lex Juarez)

On top of environmental concerns, public interest groups are against this because they worry that it could trigger another nuclear arms race. Those with the Savannah River Site Watch said they took it upon themselves to hold public forums because the DOE has not. Tom Clements, the Director of Savannah River Site Watch said, “They should be holding public meetings and engaging people. I don’t think they’re going to, so we will probably be holding more to make sure the public is fully informed, and has ways to input and have influence on this decision.”

Clements encourages community members to come out June 27 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. to voice their opinion at the North Augusta Community Center. There, the Department of Energy is presenting their Environmental Impact Statement.

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Critics blast plutonium pit production pitch at Aiken forum

June 17, 2019
Source:
Aiken (South Carolina) Standard, print edition, top of p. 2

A coalition of nuclear watchers and environmental groups on Friday night hosted a public forum in Aiken, during which speakers unloaded on the proposed plutonium pit production expansion at both the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The get-together, held at the Aiken Municipal Building, was largely led by Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements. He was backed by Marylia Kelley, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, and Jay Coghlan, who leads Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Together, the three called into question the actual need for more pits, and the U.S. Department of Energy's ability to successfully produce them, and discussed at length the environmental and health repercussions that could come with such a significant weapons-oriented mission.

The public "can be effective against bad Department of Energy ideas, like the pit production one," Clements said early in his remarks.

At least 80 pits per year are needed by 2030, according to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a leading nuclear policy document. Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores.

Around this time last year, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense jointly recommended producing 50 pits per year at SRS – at a redeveloped Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility – and the remaining 30 per year at a bolstered Los Alamos.

"They keep coming up with this number, 80, and I don't know where they get this from," Clements said. "They haven't justified it."

The NNSA terminated the controversial MOX project on Oct. 10, 2018. The SRS Watch director on Friday described the overbudget venture as "parochial" and akin to a pork barrel. He again demanded investigations into what he called waste, abuse, negligence and mismanagement.

Coghlan told the audience – about 60 people – he found it "really funny" that the DOE would repurpose a "bungled" project for another project that is not only unnecessary but is potentially detrimental on the world stage.

"This is kind of funny, to a twisted way," Coghlan continued.

The federal government is hosting its own pit production public meeting June 27 in North Augusta.

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"Critics raise concerns over proposed atomic bomb factory near Aiken"

June 15, 2019
Source:
The State, Columbia, SC.

Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.

But the proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.

Savannah River Site Watch, a nuclear watchdog organization that tracks SRS, held a public meeting Friday night in Aiken County to brief people on the government’s plan at SRS, a 310-square-mile complex in western South Carolina.

“We don’t think people are really aware of what is going on: that this new mission is fraught with risk that could come to SRS,’’ Savannah River Site Watch director Tom Clements told The State.

Nuclear watchdog groups from New Mexico and California joined SRS Watch for the forum in Aiken County, where many SRS workers live. Before the Friday meeting, the groups held a news conference to voice concerns. The U.S. Department of Energy plans its own forum on the proposal June 27 in North Augusta.

The Energy Department is proposing to convert its failed and unfinished mixed oxide fuel plant at SRS for use as a plutonium pit plant. The cost to convert the plant could be up to $5 billion, nuclear watchdogs said.

Federal records show the new SRS plant would produce at least 50 pits for nuclear weapons each year. A federal site in Los Alamos, N.M., would produce another 30 pits, according to the government’s plan. Part of the reason for needing more pits is to refresh the nation’s aging stockpile of atomic weapons, federal officials have said.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Energy were not immediately available Friday for comment, but a public notice this week said the pits the government wants to replace were made from 1978-89. Most plutonium cores were produced at the Rocky Flats, Colo., nuclear site decades ago, but that site has since closed.

“Today, the United States’ capability to produce plutonium pits is limited,’’ according to a DOE public notice. The notice said producing 80 pits per year, beginning in 2030, would “mitigate the risk of plutonium aging.’’

“The security policies of the United States require the maintenance of a safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile,’’ the public notice said.

Pro-nuclear groups say the pit plant is a good replacement for the mixed oxide fuel facility, commonly known as MOX. Not only will it provide jobs, but it will help keep the United States safe, they say.

“We are 100 percent supportive,’’ said Jim Marra, director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness. ‘’From a national defense standpoint, it is vitally important. Quite frankly, there’s no better place to do it, at least part of it, than Savannah River Site. The expertise in dealing with plutonium, and the existing work now going on with plutonium, is huge.’’

Clements and Jay Coghlan, who directs Nuclear Watch New Mexico, don’t see it that way.

“It will be a great waste of taxpayer’s money,’’ Coghlan said. “There also is a long history of chronic safety problems and environmental or waste problems associated with pit production.’’

Clements said plutonium, one of the most dangerous parts of a nuclear weapon, is toxic and a potential threat to the environment. Workers would be exposed to plutonium at SRS, and the public could be exposed to plutonium if an accident occurs, he said.

SRS was a vital cog in Cold War weapons production. Built in the early 1950s, it produced materials, such as tritium, that were used for nuclear weapons. It has been largely in a cleanup mode and looking for new missions since the early 1990s. More than 10,000 people work there.

One of the biggest questions raised by pit project critics is whether the pits are needed as badly as the DOE contends.

Existing plutonium pits, essentially the cores of nuclear bombs, have a longer shelf life than the government has recently said they have, said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES in California. She said past government studies have shown that. One study shows that plutonium pits can last 85- 100 years, about 25-40 years longer than previously thought.

But the issue isn’t just about replacing plutonium supplies, critics say. The government today is working on a new type of nuclear weapon the pits could be used in — and nuclear proliferation is a bad idea, they say.

“If you don’t design new nuclear weapons, you will need to do very few pits every year,’’ Kelley said. “This enterprise is not necessary, and I would argue that we need a very robust discussion here.’’

She said if the U.S. develops a new weapon and tests it, other countries may do the same, potentially leading to an escalation of nuclear arms.

Marra said he’s not opposed to plutonium pits being used for new weapons.

“’If that includes new weapons systems, I think that’s the right thing to do,’’ he said. “Our adversaries are not standing still in this regard. China and Russia are continuing to modernize their nuclear weapons, and we all know about North Korea.’’

Plans to develop the plutonium pit factory are not final. A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, discussed recently in a key committee, would derail the plan.

The Department of Energy plans to conduct an environmental impact statement on how the plant would affect the environment and human health. The current proposal isn’t the first time the DOE has brought up the matter of a new pit plant. The agency proposed a pit factory more than 17 years ago, but the plan never went anywhere.

Reach Fretwell at 803-771-8537. @sfretwell83
803-771-8537
Sammy Fretwell has written about the environment for more than 20 years. Among the matters he covers are climate change, wildlife issues, nuclear policy, pollution, land protection, coastal development, energy and state environmental policy. Fretwell, who grew up in Anderson County, is a University of South Carolina graduate. Reach him at 803 771 8537.

Read more here...




Help Change Nuclear Policy

June, 7, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Do you know that Congress is considering seven bills to change U.S. policy and reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons?

Tri-Valley CAREs has been working with D.C. colleagues and with legislators in the House and Senate to introduce key bills to move the country away from the dangerous escalation outlined in new Nuclear Posture Review. If you would like to know more about these and other bills and/or help Tri-Valley CAREs create change in U.S. nuclear and foreign policy, you can visit us online at

http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/Alert_7_Bills_Flyer_Apr_2019_2fnl_English.pdf

Para leer en español vaya a:

http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/Alert_7_Bills_Flyer_Apr_2019_2fnl_Spanish.pdf

Your calls are needed now! The capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.

We work hard to promote peace, justice and healthy environment.

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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Stand against explosive tests

Friday, April 26, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Earlier this year I was hired by Tri Valley CAREs to conduct outreach in English and Spanish, and I began learning about the nuclear weapons development occurring at Site 300.

Site 300 is currently allowed to detonate up to 100 pounds of toxic high explosives daily in the open-air, and 1,000 pounds annually. Site 300 has proposed to increase the size of open-air blasts to 1,000 pounds (10 times) a day and 7,500 a year (7.5 times)!

These explosions are harmful to human health due to the release of toxic substances (beryllium, vinyl chloride, hydrogen cyanide, etc.) that can lead to illnesses including cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed Site 300 on its Superfund list of most contaminated locations in the country in 1990. Due to the extensive contamination of soils, surface water and groundwater aquifers, the cleanup is expected to last more than 80 years.

Tri-Valley CAREs asks you to join forces to alert the public to this new danger. You can reach out to real estate brokers, talk to the City Council, and communicate with the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. All of them have written letters stating their opposition to the project, yet Site 300 is moving forward by trying to get a permit for these much bigger bomb blasts. You can ask these brokers and your elected officials to write and tell the Valley Air District to deny the permit. You can also make a difference by participating in our meetings, signing our online petition, speaking to your neighbors and friends, and more. Together, all of us in the community have the right to decide how clean is clean.

Contact Raiza Bettis at raiza@trivalleycares.org for more information.

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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Earth Day observance to fill Civic Center

April 25, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

Families will get to help mark Earth Day on Saturday morning down at City Hall.

Tri-Valley CAREs is co-sponsoring the events with the Tracy Earth Project. They have invited a co-founder of Earth Day, former congressman Pete McCloskey, to speak and are hosting educational and activity booths around the grass at 333 Civic Center Plaza.

“The emphasis of our Earth Day is educating the new generation because they are the ones inheriting the decades of misuse projected on Mother Earth,” organizer Dotty Nygard said Wednesday. “We’re at a crucial time to really step up our game because the window of opportunity is closing. We have to be more diligent, encouraging even our local leaders to put together policies that protect our soil and water.”

Most of the Earth Day activities start at 9 a.m. and run through noon. Families can paint rocks or plant seeds to grow their own vegetables and learn which items can be recycled or reused to serve another purpose. There will also be a reading of the Dr. Seuss classic book “The Lorax.”

“Earth Day starts in the home,” Nygard said about the activities. “What I see this as is an opportunity for families to continue these things in their own home.”

For weeks the Earth Day organizers have encouraged Tracy residents on social media to engage in the #trashtag challenge, asking them to pick up refuse around town and post images of themselves with the trash bags they fill.

Nygard said it’s all in service to protecting the planet for future generations.

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Tri-Valley CAREs

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Source:
The Independent Newspaper

I’ve been a member of Tri-Valley CAREs since 1988. I have spent countless hours parsing the complex issues concerning the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s design and development of nuclear weapons.

At first I had thought that when the Berlin wall came down in 1989 the Cold War was over. Finally our fear of nuclear annihilation could end, and I would be able turn my full attention to peaceful things. Needless to say, I was sorely mistaken.

Hundreds of billions of our tax dollars have been spent on developing new designs and modifications to nuclear weapons. We are even making them more “useable.” Further, the waste streams from nuclear development have contaminated our land, our water and our air.

Employees from the Livermore Lab are suffering from cancers, respiratory diseases and other life-threatening ailments caused by handling deadly toxic chemicals and radioactive materials – now in the service of upgrading nuclear bombs with features that many scientists say aren’t needed and may be counterproductive to national security.

Livermore Lab talks about peace. Yet more than a billion dollars this year will be spent making work for nuclear scientists who are in love with the bomb, not to mention the dollar.

I learned that it will likely take 80 years to clean up contamination at the Lab’s Main Site and Site 300, and even then some of the toxic and radioactive pollutants will be left in place.

New contaminants from today’s spills join the Lab’s legacy pollutants. Our children’s health and our communities are at risk. So, I struggle on to do my part to create a better future.

I am grateful that Tri-Valley CAREs educates the public about nuclear dangers, holds community meetings and continually works to redirect the Lab’s mission toward peaceful, civilian science and clean up of the legacy of the Cold War.

Will you join me in this worthy endeavor? Learn more at trivalleycares.org.

Jo Ann Frisch
Pleasanton

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Tri-Valley CAREs meeting a success

March 29, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

People from Tracy community came to join us on March 13 and learned about and discussed these very important issues. Here is a bit about it:

The discussion focused on Livermore Lab’s plan to be increase the size and power of explosions at Site 300 tenfold, from the current 100-pound limit to 1,000 pounds of high explosive per blast. This is especially concerning to residents given the recent approvals for the Tracy Hills development roughly one mile from that firing table.

Additionally, the Superfund cleanup was discussed. Site 300 has been on this list since 1990 and the cleanup from past testing activities (and dumping of waste onsite) is slow-going and will take many more decades. Citizen involvement is key to ensuring that contamination on site is remediated to a level that protects public health and supports environmental quality.

Community members at the meeting were very receptive and they offered solutions that could be implemented. They agreed that air, water, ground and noise quality will have a great impact from the bomb blasts. They worried that toxic contaminants will be released into the air and residents will be breathing them, exposing them to lung cancer, asthma, many other diseases and even early death.

Tri-Valley CAREs needs you, this needs to be a citizen-led effort in Tracy. We can be a motivating force by sending letters to the editor, reaching out to real estate brokerages, sending memos, etc. You as a community decide how much clean is clean. We are open to hear new strategies and we ask for help to connect with other organizations in Tracy that may be willing to include some of this information in their mission.

We would like to thank you for coming and supporting us!

Raiza Bettis,

Tracy

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Who is Tri-Valley CARES?

March 15, 2019
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Our nonprofit organization, Tri-Valley CAREs, has been collaborating with community organizations and elected officials to promote peace, justice and a healthy environment for over 30 years. Over the years, we have gained involvement from Tracy’s residents in the discussion about Site 300. Our goal is to develop more community involvement to inform and involve residents on community issues.

Who we are:

Since 1983, Tri-Valley CAREs has been comprised of laboratory workers and residents who work, live or recreate near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the two locations where all the U.S. nuclear weapons are designed. Our group has a program to help laboratory workers who have been made ill by on-the-job exposure to obtain compensation. Further, we have an ongoing program to improve the cleanup of toxic and radioactive wastes at the laboratory’s Site 300 under the federal Superfund law. In recent months, we have expanded our programs to include to increase the size of toxic open-air blasts at Site 300, the 11-square-mile site about a mile away from the southwest Tracy border. Moreover, we help residents voice their concerns with decision makers at every level in both English and Spanish.

Tri-Valley CAREs involves the community by providing:

  • Spanish-translated materials.
  • Citizen’s Watch member newsletter.
  • Community meetings with Spanish translator.
  • Action events.

We look forward to expanding our relationship to better serve our communities.

Contact: Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, 902 N. Central Ave., Ste. 201, Tracy, CA 95376.

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis,

Tracy

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STATE OF THE SITES: Superfund Cleanup at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

January 2019
Source:
Written by the staff at the Nuclear Weapons Complex Monitor

The U.S. Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California today operates from two locations: the original site, spread over more than 1 square mile about 45 miles east of San Francisco; and the 7,000-acre Site 300 high-explosive test range near the city of Tracy. Both are now Superfund sites.

Over the years, about 18,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been dug up at LLNL Site 300. Much of the waste was taken to off-site locations for disposal, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Energy Department is also sustaining aging, contaminated buildings that stopped operating years ago but have yet to enter decontamination and decommissioning.

The History

Lawrence Livermore was established in 1952, in the early years of the Cold War, to advance nuclear weapons technology. In the 1950s it helped design thermonuclear warheads that could be launched by submarines. Decades later it would help define the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program. Site 300 also dates to the 1950s as a weapons research facility.

Lawrence Livermore remains active in the research and development of nuclear weapons, and other national security activities under the direction of DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, while also coordinating cleanup with the Office of Environmental Management.

Decades of weapons and explosive testing contaminated soil and groundwater. The main site was placed on the Superfund list in 1987, followed by Site 300 three years later.

Cleanup of the main property began in 1995. Twenty-one facilities for groundwater and soil extraction and treatment are currently operating at Site 300. Tri-Valley CAREs, an advocacy group, has said LLNL cleanup will be “multi-generational,” lasting more than 50 years.

The life-cycle cleanup costs for cleanup of LLNL is expected to be in excess of $500 million, according to the fiscal 2019 DOE budget justification. The department is seeking $1.7 million for this work in the upcoming budget year. [Note: these numbers are for the DOE Environmental Management Program only and do not include the vast majority of the cleanup, which is being funded by the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration.]

Today

The lab is managed for the NNSA by Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel National, BWXT Technology, AECOM, and Battelle. Cleanup is typically carried out by LLNS and its subcontractors.

In the Department of Energy’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal, Livermore and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee would split $150 million toward cleanup up nonoperating “excess facilities.”

The excess facilities at LLNL were built between 1952 and 1980 for research, and they remain contaminated by radiological material and chemical hazards, such as beryllium. In some cases, the facilities could fail during an earthquake.

During 2018 and 2019, DOE is conducting studies involving perchlorate contamination, groundwater contamination, and related problems around retired Buildings 812, 850, and 865, which were used in explosive testing operations. The planning is being done in connection with the U.S. EPA and the state of California. A major concern is remediation of the depleted uranium contaminated soil at the Building 812.

Another facility of concern, discussed in recent budget documents, is the Pool Type Reactor at LLNL, which was used for nuclear weapons research and radiation studies, and ceased operation around 1980.

To access the series covering 16 nuclear weapons cleanup sites, go to: www.exchangemonitor.com/2018-state-of-the-sites



Groups call for environmental review of more ‘pit’ production

November 2nd, 2018
Source:
By Mark Oswald / Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

SANTA FE – Activist groups in three states including New Mexico are demanding an environmental review before the federal government ramps of production of the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons called “pits.”

The groups’ letter to the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration — the semi-autonomous wing of the Department of Energy that runs the nation’s weapons labs — says NNSA “has made no visible effort to begin the legally required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process” for expanding pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

NNSA earlier this year revealed plans to make up to 80 pits a year, as mandated by Congress, by dividing the job between LANL and Savannah River, as part of a massive modernization plan for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Pits already can be made at Los Alamos. A recent court decision cleared the way for repurposing part of the Savannah River Site for pit production over objections from South Carolina elected officials who wanted to retain a more lucrative but long-troubled nuclear fuel fabrication mission.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch in South Carolina and Tri-Valley CAREs Livermore, Calif. — home of another weapons lab — say an environmental impact statement is required before pit production is increased above a currently sanction 20 per year cap.

The U.S. hasn’t made any new pits since 2011, when LANL completed the last of 29 plutonium cores for Navy submarine missiles. The most ever made at Los Alamos in a year is 11. Under NNSA’s plan, at least 30 pits a year would be made at LANL and 50 at Savannah River by about 2030.

An NNSA spokeswoman, asked to respond to activist groups’ assertions, said via email this week, “The pit production mission will be carried out in accordance with all applicable environmental and regulatory requirements.”

The three groups also say that before it finishes a NEPA process, NNSA can’t take actions that would limit alternatives before “irreversible” resources are dedicated to a project.

Los Alamos is already making plans, including adding work shifts, for increased work in its plutonium facility.

Critics of increased pit production say there is no need to make more because thousands that will remain in good shape for decades remain in storage after industrial-scale production during the Cold War.

Read the full story...




Prevent Nuclear War

October 18, 2018
Source:
The Independent News

Donald Trump has said he doesn’t understand why we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them. The government took a step in that dangerous direction recently by proposing to create a warhead that is more likely to be used in war. The 2019 budget includes a low-yield nuclear variant to sit atop Trident D5 missiles.

Trump says it will make a U.S. strike more “credible.” The smaller-yield weapon will not be distinguishable from high-yield ones in flight. It will blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons, lowering the threshold for nuclear use and making nuclear war more likely.

The solution is a bill banning this low-yield nuke. Representatives Adam Smith, Ted Lieu, John Garamendi, and Earl Blumenauer introduced H.R. 6840, the Hold the LYNE – Low Yield Nuclear Explosive – Act. Their legislation, if passed, would prohibit funds from being used for research, development, production or deployment of this warhead.

You can prevent nuclear war before it starts: call your member of Congress at the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 to co-sponsor the bill, send an email to your representative, or attend a “town hall” with your member of Congress or candidate.

Jo Ann Frisch
Pleasanton

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New proposal makes nuclear war more likely

October 17, 2018
Source:
The Mercury News

Donald Trump said he doesn’t understand why we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them.

The administration’s fiscal 2019 budget took a step in that direction by proposing to create a warhead more likely to be used in war: a low-yield nuclear variant to sit atop Trident D5 missiles. Trump says it will make a U.S. strike more “credible.” The smaller-yield weapon will not be distinguishable from high-yield ones thus lowering the threshold for nuclear use and making nuclear war more likely.

A bill introduced by Reps. Smith, Lieu, Garamendi and Blumenauer called Hold the LYNE (Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive) Act, HR 6840, would prohibit funds for research, development, production or deployment of this warhead.

You can prevent nuclear war: Call your congressperson to urge co-sponsoring the bill or send email, or attend a town hall. For more information, go to trivalleycares.org.

Jo Ann Frisch
Pleasanton

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Nuclear Weapons: Designed Today for Use Tomorrow - Marylia Kelley

September 7, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/-TLIHNuAFR0

Livermore Lab, along with Los Alamos, is where all America’s nuclear weapons have been designed. Now it will be a key hub in the creation of a coming two trillion dollar push to design a new generation of ‘low yield’ - and therefore ‘usable’ -nuclear weapons. Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs, reports that 88% of the budget of the Department of Energy (DoE) will now be devoted to ’nuclear weapons activity.’ She reveals that Livermore has announced plans to blow up 1000 pounds of hazardous radioactive materials per day - up to seven thousand, five hundred pounds a year - at an open-air dumpsite in the nearby countryside. Her organization is working hard to block those plans and needs support and participation. She was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




Before It's Too Late - Daniel Ellsberg

September 5, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/_7HkZQryfVE

Author, Pentagon defense analyst and celebrated whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explains why we must act as if it is not to late to save civilization from nuclear war and climate change.

Ellsberg was the Key Note speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California's Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




Nuclear States Must Disarm Together - Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka

September 7, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/f5hp8sM02SI

Atomic Bomb survivor Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka points to the hypocrisy of the U.S. - the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons - demanding that other states denuclearize. Nuclear abolition means, he says, that all nuclear-armed states must disarm together. Denuclearization begins at home. Rev. Hanaoka was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




The Nuclear Weapons / Climate Change Connection - Dr. Robert Gould

September 7, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/F8eMPFtw6Ww

Dr. Robert Gould, former head of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, explains why spending our limited resources on new nuclear weapons instead of on responses to climate change is an ecocidal scenario. Denuclearization and Decarbonization must go together. Dr. Gould was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, “Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today.”




We are Weavers of Life - Joanna Macy

September 7, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/mTr3zMPFT8A

Teacher, author and Buddhist scholar Joana Macy advocates for confronting the destructive force of nuclear weapons with the binding force of informed collective action. She was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




Gardeners of the Global Vines of Peace - Carole Hisasue

September 7, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/I5rqM-XZbn0

Popular Japanese media personality and bi-cultural activist Carole Hisasue celebrates the worldwide network of people working for nuclear abolition. She was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




Korea's 'Separated Families' - Prof. Christine Hong

September 5, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/fnvYaVkUARA

Prof. Christine Hong - Univ. of CA, Santa Cruz - tells how U.S. policies have kept Korean families - and the two Koreas - separated for over half a century.

Prof. Hong was a featured speaker at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California's Livermore Lab, "Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today."




Speaking for the Next Generations - Oakland Mind

September 5, 2018
Source:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/SFd6-9QoaAc

The celebrated rap team Oakland Mind expresses the Millennial youth perspective on the urgency of creating a post-nuclear, peaceful planet.

Oakland Mind performed at the Aug. 6, 2018 rally, march and non-violent action commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan at California’s Livermore Lab, “Remembering Hiroshima & Nagasaki where new nuclear weapons are being created today." For more info: http://www.trivalleycares.org/




The man who shouldn’t be here hopes to be heard

Monday, August 13, 2018
Source:
By Gene Beley, CVBT Correspondent

• He lived through Hiroshima bombing as an infant
• “How lucky for the ones who got killed instantly”
WITH VIDEO

There were many speakers at the 73rd anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb rally, held August 6 near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where scientists create and test bombs. One stood out: He is a survivor of the most devastating bomb ever used in warfare.

The Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, an infant on that day the bomb was dropped in 1945, said his family was shielded by a mountain but radiation later caused the death of his mother, sister, and 30 years later, his brother.

“I’m here with a sense of urgency,” Mr. Hanaoka began, “now more than ever because we are going back to the Cold War era of the nuclear arms race. For a while we were moving in the right direction. Slowly but steadily we were disarming. But now we have a president who ordered the Pentagon to reestablish our nuclear superiority.

Watch his remarks here:
https://vimeo.com/284483265

The ordained United Methodist minister now lives in the pleasant San Francisco suburb of Daly City. Nearly threequarters of a century ago, his family was in a much different place.

“Seventy three years ago at 8:15 a.m., the first nuclear bomb detonated in mid-air over the city of Hiroshima and three days later, Nagasaki, Japan. The death toll from these two bombs reached a quarter million people by the end of that year.”

He told the audience the bomb was dropped on a parachute so that the pilots and crew would not be killed by the blast.

Then Mr. Hanaoka told how his fellow citizens died in three different ways. “First the blast knocked down almost every building in a two mile radius. People were crushed under the falling buildings and hit by flying debris.

“The blast was followed by an immense fireball. It kept growing and growing until it engulfed the whole city. The surface temperature of that fireball was 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is twice as hot as the surface of the sun. People touched by the fireball were vaporized.

“The nuclear radiation fallout of small, invisible particles spread into the atmosphere over the wider area, then came down with the rain.

“Do you know what that meant?” the minister asked the audience of more than 100 people gathered on a corner near the national laboratory.

“The air was contaminated. Water was contaminated. People who survived the initial impacts still had to breathe and drink. There was no way to escape the radiation.

“Fortunately, our family was living outside of the city miles away from the city limits. There were a couple of mountains inbetween that shielded us from the blast and fire. But within a few years radiation began to affect my family.

"People say it's like holding a time bomb inside them because you never know when you will get sick and die."

“When I was in the first grade, my mother died. As far back as I can recall she was in bed looking pale and weak. I knew she was my mother but I couldn’t even talk to her. I was scared.

“After that my sister died. She suffered from leukemia. Then 30 years later my brother died of ‘unknown causes.’ When they performed an autopsy on him, the doctor was shocked because his internal organs were those of an 80-year-old man. We suspected it had something to do with radiation.

“Nuclear bombs kept people suffering long after the end of the war. We still have friends who are still suffering. Once radiation is inside the body, it goes to the bone marrow. It destroys the immune system and makes people sick all the time just like with AIDS patients having HIV.

“People say it’s like holding a time bomb inside them because you never know when you will get sick or die.” He added, “Survivors call their lives ‘a process of dying a slow, painful death.’”

“Every time we get together, they say, ‘How lucky for the ones who got killed instantly because they were spared the long, miserable, painful suffering.’

“I’m fortunate to be here but a lot of people are not as fortunate as I am. After my sister died, my father was concerned about his loved ones dying one after another. He asked my sister’s doctor what is going to happen to his family? He was told, if I was exposed to the radiation like my mother and sister, ‘He may not live to see his 10th birthday.’

“I didn’t know how to process that information that I only had three years to live. I was just in the second grade. I was depressed, withdrawn and I lost my speech. I didn’t speak a word for two months. When my 10th birthday came, thank God, I was finally relieved.

“But then came the fit of survivors’ guilt. Why did such a loving mother, such a loving sister, have to die so painfully? And I, a good for nothing kid, am still alive?

“For a long time, I felt I had no right to be alive. I didn’t want anyone to live like this. Nuclear bombs are the most inhumane, immoral weapons of mass destruction — the most painful way to die.

Some Statistics About Nuclear Death

Mr. Hanaoka said the Hiroshima bomb was equal to a blast of about 15,000 tons of TNT. The largest, most powerful weapon today is a Russian bomb that is 15 megatons or 3,300 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, he said.

“Imagine what these new weapons can do to us. It would be global suffering,” he said.

The exact number of nuclear weapons in the world is an educated guess, since countries are loath to detail their inventories. But recently the cable news channel CNBC estimated the total at 14,500 held by nine counties. By Country:
• North Korea, between 10 and 20
• Israel, about 80
• India, between 120 and 130
• Pakistan, from 130 to 140
• United Kingdom, about 215
• China, perhaps 270
• France, about 300
• United States, around 6,550
• Russia, about 6,800

“If you are holding so much weapons, where your weapons are superior to the rest of the world, you have no right to demand other states such as Iran and North Korea to disarm. The only way to convince them to disarm is for all of us — all nuclear states — to disarm together,” the minister said.

“Ever since the end of the cold war we’ve been a bit complacent. But now we should start raising our voices as loud as we can,” Mr. Hanaoka said. “No more A-bombs. No more nuclear bombs. No more wars. Abolish these illegal weapons.

“50-megaton bombs will circle the earth 3.5 times spreading radiation all over the world. We can’t do that. So, my friends start demanding. Start raising your voices. Start acting. No more nuclear weapons.”



The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays – August 6, 2018

August 6, 2018
Source:
The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays

TVC was featured on The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays. Click the link below to listen to the broadcast, the report on the August 6th protest starts at 37:22.

Listen the full broadcast...




Protest Planned At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

August 6, 2018
Source:
Patch

The 'Action at the Lab' rally will be held near the laboratory's west gate.

LIVERMORE, CA — The Livermore Conversion Project is hosting an "Action at the Lab" rally this morning at one of the gates to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The annual protest, which includes a rally, march and action, is held on or near "Nagasaki Day" as a reminder of the Hiroshima bombing on Aug. 6, 1945.

Those who gather are encouraged to block the gate at the laboratory. Last year, about 50 protesters were arrested for trespassing, according to police.

Read the original story...




73rd Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima marked by protests at CA’s Livermore Lab

August 6, 2018
Source:
KPFA: UpFront

7:35 Anniversary of the United States dropping the Hiroshima bomb on Japan. KPFA’s Carla West [@carlacwest] reports live from the March for Nuclear Abolition and Global Survival at the Lawerence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory. Protesters gathered at Livermore Lab to demand a stop the creation of new and “more usable” nuclear weapons proposed by President Trump in his Nuclear Posture Review and fiscal 2019 budget, both released this year.

Listen to the interview...




Promises Made, Promises to Keep

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Source:
The Independant Newspaper

Where will you be on Hiroshima Day? What will you be doing on this important date to promote peace and nuclear disarmament?

I invite you to join me on Monday, August 6, 2018, at 8 am. I will be on the corner of Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Road at the Livermore Lab, where nuclear weapons are still being created today.

Join me to commemorate those who lost their lives in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Together, we will honor the promise of “never again.”

Following a rally, we’ll march to the Lab’s West Gate, for nuclear abolition and global survival. Together we will act to keep the promises of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Our speakers will be: Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower and author of “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, atomic bomb survivor, and Dr. Christine Hong, a Korea expert from UC Santa Cruz, along with other leaders of the peace movement. You can also participate in a Japanese bon dance and hear wonderful music.

Bring your family and friends, and join me for this remembrance. For more information contact, www.trivalleycares.org

Now is the time to keep our promise and abolish nuclear weapons.

Jo Ann Frisch, Pleasanton

Read the original story...




Nuclear, noise concerns at Site 300 meeting

July 19, 2018
Source:
Tracy Press

People at a public hearing at City Hall on July 12 lined up to the back of the room for a chance to speak about their fears of radiation and noise pollution from an explosives test site in the foothills south of Tracy.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is considering issuing Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory a permit to increase explosives tests at Site 300, about a mile and a half from the city’s southern border along Corral Hollow Road. The district hosted the meeting as part of its consideration process for planned tests that would use up to 1,000 pounds of explosives a day and no more than 7,500 pounds in a year. Both quantities exceed the current limits of 100 pounds daily and 1,000 pounds yearly.

About 100 people showed up for the meeting, and from the outset the district’s permit services manager, Nick Peirce, seemed to know what was about to happen.

“We are aware there is a lot of interest in this project and this facility in particular. Also some public concerns,” Peirce said. “We have not made a final decision on the project yet. We’ve really done a preliminary analysis based on the best available information we have. We have and really want to get the public’s input, which is why we are having a public hearing.”

A district study looked at four potential sources of air pollution: the explosion itself, debris from assembly that contains the explosives, surface cratering from the blast, and surface scouring from the blast wave as it emanates from the explosion across the ground.

The district looked at 120 compounds that could be in the soil and potentially be blown aloft by explosions into the air over Tracy. Peirce told the crowd that the lab had pledged to build a berm to contain the blast and put a 3-foot deep gravel bed over the soil to prevent dust from rising and a metal plate on top of the gravel as a foundation for the experiment.

“We feel like these are commonsense, easy to implement and easy to enforce measures to ensure that none of the surface soils will be disturbed by the explosion shockwave,” he said.

Peirce said containing the explosion in a small building would negate the value of the data collected because the shockwaves and debris would reflect off the walls, and building a structure big enough to not interfere with the experiments would cost, according to the lab, about $100 million.

“At the end of the day, we found that containment of the explosion blast was not practically feasible and not cost effective,” he said.

Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment was unconvinced, saying that according to the lab’s own reports, technicians had found 80 pounds of uranium-238 around the firing table.

“If there are softball-sized chunks of uranium sitting around on the ground because of blasts, there are every single particle size there,” she told the air pollution control district staff. “So you have finely divided particles of uranium that could easily be on hand in that dirt. There’s nothing in your analysis that takes that into account. That analysis, to be frank, is a joke. You need to go back. It’s a serious issue; you have to treat it seriously. You need to do a much more detailed analysis.”

A senior air quality engineer with the district, Brian Clements, said the analysis was sound.

“We perform nearly 1,000 of these health risk assessments every year,” he said. “We are confident in the analysis. As far as Lawrence Livermore proposing pounds per day of explosives, that correlates to a certain amount of emissions. We take that, put it in our models, and we’re very certain that this particular project would not cause a significant health risk at all.”

Any risk was too great for Tracy mother Yolanda Park.

“There’s a lot of children here. There’s a lot of children here in California that we should be protecting, and you’re saying, ‘Oh, the risk is small,’” said Park, who is also the coordinator of the Environmental Justice Project at Catholic Charities of the Stockton Diocese. “Please consider the comments of the people here. You are here to listen. You are here because you say you are concerned about what we think and what we feel. Truly take this into account. Please don’t let this be water off the duck’s back.”

Clements said the analysis also included a look at the cumulative impact on health for continued experiments.

“The cancer risk from this project is like 0.00004 in a million,” he said, which is less than the normal incidence of cancer in the valley.

It was the noise of a 1,000-pound explosion echoing down upon Tracy that worried U.S. Army veteran Alfredo Zaragoza.

“I, unfortunately, have had the pleasure of witnessing a 1,000-pound explosion,” said Zaragoza, who served as an explosives ordinance disposal expert in Afghanistan. “The effective safe distance recommended for soldiers for a 1,000-pound IED (improvised explosive device) is 4 miles.”

The firing table at Site 300 is about 7,400 feet from Tracy’s southern city limit, where homes in the Tracy Hills project will eventually be built. The development’s project managers, Mike Souza with Souza Realty Development and John Palmer, confirmed that they had sent a letter of concern to the air pollution control district stating that their future residents would be adversely affected by the noise of larger explosions.

Resident Bob Sarvey said the lab knew the noise would hurt people and had for years.

“1993, they conducted a physical study,” he said, producing documentation he said was from the lab, which Peirce said the air pollution control district had not received before. “They took actual detonation charges, they took noise monitors and they put them in the locations where Tracy Hills will be built. The study concluded that the readings at the closest location show that blast wave overpressures exceed 126 (decibel) levels established by Lawrence Livermore Lab at 250 (decibels).”

According to the National Institutes of Health, normal conversation produces about 60 decibels of sound and noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage. Sirens are about 120 decibels.

As the meeting approached the scheduled two-hour time limit, people were still standing waiting to be heard. Kelley had a suggestion.

“We’re almost out of time and you have not heard from these good people and they have important things to tell you. There needs to be a second public hearing,” she said.

The comment period for the proposed permit is open until Aug. 7, and people can still submit letters to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District through its website, www.valleyair.org. After that deadline, the district will consider whether to host a second meeting.

Read the original story...




Tri-Valley CAREs was featured on KPFA radio

July 13, 2018.
Source:
KPFA, The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays

Tri-Valley CAREs members and staff from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District were featured on KPFA radio to discuss the Public Hearing in Tracy for Livermore Lab's Site 300 proposal to increase the size of its bigger toxic bomb blasts. Included in this segment are:

Valeria Salamanca, Tri-Valley CAREs Outreach Specialist and Tracy resident Brian Clements, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Central Region Permit Services Manager Scott Yundt, Tri-Valley CAREs Staff Attorney Gail Rieger, Tri-Valley CAREs Board Member and Tracy resident

Listen to the story from 38:08 to 44:00.

https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=290168




Atomic Bomb

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Source:
The Independent

It was 73 years ago on Aug. 6, 1945, that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and 3 days later on Nagasaki. The death toll for the two bombs was staggering, more than 220,000 died immediately, and many more people died excruciating deaths from exposure to radioactive contamination.

I grew up hearing the stories about the service people who were on Tinian Island, because my mother was an army nurse who dated one of the pilots. They spoke of a bombing mission that was going to end the war.

At that time, the war had killed so many people, it’s hard to judge the morality of the massive killing. For example, over 100,000 people were killed in the fire-bombing of Tokyo. Yet deep questions about the use of 2 atomic bombs remain.

Today, it is time to change our thinking about nuclear weapons. We are confronted with the legacy of radioactive pollution from our nuclear activities across the country and the ever-present possibility of a thermonuclear war that could end life as we know it.

If you are interested in remembering the people who died in the bombings and protesting the continued nuclear weapons development, come to a Hiroshima Day commemoration on August 6, 2018, at 8 AM, on the northwest corner of Vasco and Patterson Pass Rd. intersection.

Daniel Ellsberg, author of the book, Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, will be speaking, as well as Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, a survivor of the atomic bomb. Following the commemoration, there will be a March for Nuclear Abolition and Global Survival to the west gate of Livermore lab.

Praying for Peace in the World.

Pamela Richard, Danville

Read the full story...




Community Pushing to Halt Further Hazardous Explosive Testing Near Tracy

July 12, 2018
Source:
Fox 40

TRACY -- Sixteen-hundred people have signed a petition in hopes of stopping plans by the Lawrence Livermore Lab to increase hazardous explosive testing just outside of Tracy.

It's all just 7,000 feet from a planned housing development.

A full environmental review of such proposals are required under state law if there's significant public concern. But with preliminary approval already granted, some say local regulators apparently don't think those signatures amount to significant concern. They pressed for a public hearing at City Hall Thursday.

Site 300 is behind big stone markers and fencing, sectioned off from the surrounding community since 1955. People who live in Tracy say that without a doubt the explosive testing that the Lawrence Livermore Lab does there touches their daily lives right now.

"It's for our health and for the babies," said Gail Reiger.

Read the full story...




Residents oppose expanded bomb testing near Tracy

July 12, 2018
Source:
NBC News KCRA 3

Dozens of residents voiced concerns about pollution and health risks related to bomb testing during a public hearing Thursday night.

The tests are conducted by the Lawrence Livermore Lab and have happened before.

However, now the lab plans to detonate bigger bombs.

Get the full story in the video above.

Read the original story...




Tri-Valley CAREs’ press conference on bomb blasts at Site 300

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Source:
Gene Beley, journalist and videographer, Central Valley Business Times

Tri-Valley CAREs protests increased size of proposed bomb blasts at Livermore Labs from Gene Beley on Vimeo.




Oppose toxic blasts

Friday, July 6, 2018
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Thursday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Tracy City Council Chambers at City Hall is the last chance for the Tracy community to tell the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District that we don’t want them to approve Lawrence Livermore Lab’s request to increase the size of their daily toxic blasts from 100 pounds to 1,000 pounds at their high explosives testing facility at Tracy’s Site 300. Each blast that will be exploded in the open air will send over 120 hazardous poisons (including beryllium, vinyl chloride, hydrogen cyanide, and dioxin) into Tracy’s already polluted air.

Open air testing might have been acceptable back in the 1950s when Tracy was sparsely populated, but with a current population of close to 100,000 people, open air toxic blasts is unsafe for our babies and other citizens.

Please join us on July 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers and let the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District know that Tracy families do not want our air polluted with highly toxic pollutants.

Gail Rieger
Tracy

Read the full story...




Letter: Concerns about Livermore Lab’s Site 300 shared in DC

Tri-Valley CAREs members talked to Rep. Denham and Senator Kamala Harris about polluting activities of Livermore Lab’s Site 300.

June 22, 2018
Source:
San Jose Mercury News

Recently, I traveled to our nation’s capital for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s 30th annual D.C. Days.

Over a three-day period, I met with members of Congress and committee staff to discuss nuclear policies and budgets. All the participants I met live near a nuclear weapons facility that neglects the safety and well-being of the nearby communities.

I was part of the Tri-Valley CAREs delegation from Tracy and Livermore. Being surrounded by other environmental advocates who resisted these injustices empowered me to be confident and proud to represent my community.

I informed congressional leaders, including my own Rep. Jeff Denham and Senator Kamala Harris, about the polluting activities of Livermore Lab’s Site 300 near my home, especially its current proposal to increase the size of outdoor toxic blasts.

I want to share with you that if I can do it so can you.

Valeria Salamanca
Tracy

Read the full story...




Inform Congress of nuclear dangers

Friday, June 22, 2018
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Recently, I was one of dozens of people who traveled to our nation’s capital for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s 30th annual D.C. Days. Over a three-day period, I met with members of Congress and committee staff to discuss nuclear policies and budgets.

I was part of the Tri-Valley CAREs delegation from Tracy and Livermore. Other colleagues came from different parts of the country, but we all shared one thing in common. We live near a nuclear weapons facility that neglects the safety and well-being of the nearby communities.

Being surrounded by other environmental advocates who were ready to resist these injustices empowered me to be confident and proud to represent my Central Valley community of Tracy.

I informed Congressional offices including my own Rep. Jeff Denham and CA Senator Kamala Harris about the polluting activities of Livermore Lab’s Site 300 near my home, especially its current proposal to increase the size of outdoor toxic blasts.

I want to share with you all that you can stand up for your community too. As one of the younger participants in these meetings, I can assure you that if I can do it, so can you!

Valeria Salamanca
Tracy

Read the full story...




Nuclear Weapons Pose the Ultimate Threat to Mankind

Thursday, June 21, 2018
Source:
The Nation

Tri-Valley CAREs’ work is recognized in the Nation magazine today! Read all about it…

Read the full story...




Nuclear Accountability

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Source:
The Independent

I recently had the good fortune to go to Washington, DC for the ANA (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability) 30th annual DC Days. This is a network of 30+ local, regional and national organizations whose members live downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear weapons sites.

The brilliance and dedication of ANA activists is inspiring. The affiliated non-profit organizations work tirelessly with limited budgets and volunteers to obtain $$ to clean up toxic nuclear waste, compensate sick workers, educate and support residents in dangerous contaminated areas, file Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to uphold the public right to know, etc.

ANA also impacts nuclear policy by raising important questions about new nuclear weapons programs proposed in Nuclear Posture Reviews (NPR) and funded through the Department of Energy.

I participated with staff and volunteers from our local Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) team and other ANA members in 100 meetings with key politicians and government officials. In addition to promoting more funds for local and nationwide cleanup (which is projected to take until 2075), we discussed threats posed by the current NPR and the nuclear weapons 'modernization' program.

For example, 'modernization' includes the development of a low-yield, "more usable" submarine launched warhead. It includes a jump-start on the $40 billion Interoperable Warhead program that Obama had delayed until 2020. It includes the Long Range Stand Off weapon, which represents a radar- evading 1st strike capability. It includes the B61-12 Bomb with new 'smart' capability.

Nuclear weapons 'modernization' overall is slated to cost taxpayers nearly $2 trillion over the next 30 years, when new bombs in the NPR and a modest rate of inflation are included. In my opinion, this is fiscally irresponsible and induces a worldwide arms race that does not make our nation, or any other nation, safe and secure.

Do Americans really want to threaten other nations with first strike with nuclear weapons? Do Americans want to return to underground nuclear tests, a possibility posed by these new designs? Do we want to create additional huge volumes of poisonous nuclear waste that will last for thousands of years, when we are hard-pressed to clean up existing contamination?

These are tough questions to pose in a company town like Livermore that benefits from the dollars that pour in for new weapons design and development, yet ask them we must. Our air, water, land, community and moral compasses require this contemplation.

I invite you to join us at Tri-Valley CAREs, trivalleycares.org, to continue to ask the hard questions, hear the good news of our progress, and become involved locally and nationally in critical issues that affect all of life.

Patricia Moore
Livermore

Read the full story...




Duck and Cover

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Source:
THE INDEPENDENT

“Duck and cover” evokes the horror of the Cold War. Dimmed in the consciousness of our younger population, we older folks remember it well.

Cold War reflections returned full force with the recent release of the Trump fiscal 2019 budget request for nuclear weapons. The National Nuclear Security Administration gets more than $15 billion for warheads and bomb plants, a 17% increase over last year’s annualized spending.

And, what of the Livermore Lab? It gets well over a billion dollars - with the lion’s share for developing new and modified warheads, including a Long-Range Stand Off weapon capable of launching a sneak nuclear attack. This program may provoke Russia into a new arms race leading us closer to nuclear war, according to former Secretary of Defense William Perry and others.

With the Trump nuclear budget on the rise, our children are now closer to learning firsthand the meaning of “duck and cover.”

We cannot sit back and ignore the threat of a new Cold War. It cannot be solved with more nuclear weapons; they are the problem. Instead, we must reinvigorate our national commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is getting curt treatment by the Trump administration. We should soberly assess the hard-won benefits of the Iran agreement. Further, we ought to embrace the genuine security of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons rather than block their entry into force.

We the people must also become part of the solution. Locally, Tri-Valley CAREs will join activists from all over the U.S. this month to talk to our elected officials in Washington and share concrete information about new nuclear dangers. For more detailed information contact trivalleycares.org.

We can assure that “duck and cover” drills remain a bygone phenomenon if we all work together toward a nuclear free world.

Jo Ann Frisch
Pleasanton

Read the full story...




Oppose Site 300 explosions

Friday, April 20, 2018
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

Would you purposely allow your child to breathe poisons like vinyl chloride, hydrogen cyanide or dioxin? I wouldn’t either.

Yet that is what will happen if the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approves a permit for Site 300 to detonate larger bomb tests outdoors.

Site 300 is located on Corral Hollow Road in southwest Tracy. It’s on the EPA’s list of the most polluted locations in America. Nuclear weapons experiments at Site 300 released radioactive and toxic materials. Cleanup will take 80 years. Worse, it will be delayed further if this permit is approved.

The new permit would allow Site 300 to increase high-explosive outdoor blasts from 100 to 1,000 pounds daily. The annual limit would increase from 1,000 to 7,500 pounds. More than 120 hazardous poisons will go into our air if the permit is approved.

I’ve made a phone call to protect my kids and yours. Please contact Tracy’s county supervisor, Bob Elliott, at 209-468-3113. Or email him: belliott@sjgov.org.

Ask Bob Elliott to stop Site 300’s application to increase its outdoor explosions. We do not want our community breathing toxic materials from these blasts.

Gail Rieger, Tracy




Nuclear Posture

Thursday, April 19,, 2018
Source:
The Independent Newspaper

The latest Nuclear Posture Review has been released this February, and shows intent by our current administration to lower the threshold for the offensive use of nuclear weapons.

In addition to expanding previous modernization goals; a venture projected to cost taxpayers 1.7 trillion dollars, the review includes plans to develop four new nuclear weapons, including a “low yield” warhead deemed “more usable” by the NPR.

The review also expands what circumstances nuclear weapons might be used, to include cyberattacks and other non-nuclear strategic attacks on US infrastructure, armed forces, and civilians. These developments are worrying given our president’s temperament and professed willingness to use nuclear weapons.

In the past, costly and protracted developments to our arsenal have been justified for purposes of deterrence, but with that rationale in mind, it’s not apparent what regional security problems the new review solves. It seems more likely these policies will endanger American lives by increasing the chance that nuclear weapons will be used.

Brendan Phillips, Dublin




First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Thursday, April 12,, 2018
Source:
The Independent Newspaper

Please consider calling on Steve Glazer and Catharine Baker to support Assembly Joint Resolution 30. This measure urges the US Congress to pass the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This resolution was introduced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and supports HR 669 on the national level.

We all know the death and destruction inherent with the use of nuclear weapons. No individual should have the sole power to declare war or authorize the use of nuclear weapons. This resolution seeks to give Congress the sole power to declare war and embodies a policy of no nuclear first strike without a Congressional Declaration of War.

You may access an online petition at this site: https://a04.asmdc.org/assembly-joint-resolution-30-petition

Teal McConn, Livermore




Call elected representatives about Site 300

Friday, March 9, 2018
Source:
Tracy Press

EDITOR,

I moved to Tracy with my husband in 1997 because it was a “safe” town to raise my children. However, it wasn’t until this past year that I learned about Site 300 and how it’s only a few miles from my house!

Site 300 conducts explosions which release poisons into the air that residents of Tracy and nearby cities inhale. And now, they have the audacity to propose an increase of weight to the daily and annual limit.

I urge you and my community call on our elected officials to publicly oppose the Site 300 proposal!

Assembly Member Susan Eggman

  • assemblymember.eggman@assembly.ca.gov
  • District Office: (209) 948-7479

State Senator Kathleen Galgiani

  • senator.galgiani@senate.ca.gov
  • Stockton District Office: (209) 948-7930
    • Supervisor Bob Elliott

    • belliot@sjgov.org
    • Office: (209) 468-0181

    Maria Salamanca, Tracy




    Survivor Mentality

    Thursday, March 8, 2018
    Source:
    The Independent

    On the day of the Hawaii missile scare on January 13th, I happened to be walking by the faded fallout shelter sign at the downtown post office and it struck me how incongruous it is that humans are clever enough to build a nuclear weapon while lacking the wisdom to realize that society will never survive a nuclear war.

    This survival mentality, reminiscent of that in the 1950s, has led to the present-day folly of military planners thinking that using low-yield tactical nukes is a reasonable battlefield option, as outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review released on February 2nd.

    Nonproliferation is not a partisan issue. It is an issue important to anyone who has big dreams for their children and grandchildren.

    Instead of increasing the nuclear weapons budget (Obama), planning the use of tactical nukes (the Pentagon), and threatening the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea (Trump), the United States needs to take the lead in stopping the development and proliferation of new nukes here at home. It’s not in anyone’s interest to end up in a real-life Blade Runner or Mad Max.

    Erik Sommargren,
    Livermore




    Local Nuclear Mess

    Thursday, February 22, 2018
    Source:
    The Independent

    I recently attended a community meeting hosted by Tri-Valley CAREs, a local group that monitors nuclear activity by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I consider myself a concerned citizen, but with so much political turmoil nationally it is easy to want to turn off the TV and wish all the bad news away. I've lived in Livermore since '92 and until this meeting did not know how much of a mess LLNL has been over the years and continues to be. Radioactive and toxic waste is still being cleaned up from LLNL activity conducted years ago, as well as from more recent nuclear enterprises.

    At one point, the groundwater had been contaminated in the neighborhood where this meeting took place. It's seems unbelievable to be living near the Lab, even a few miles away, and be unaware of what goes on there. I admit—that was me. I'm glad I've been enlightened. I want others to know that this is still an ongoing threat to our health and well-being. Cleaning up the mess at LLNL should become a higher priority – for the Lab and for the community. For more information see Tri-Valley CAREs' website: trivalleycares.org

    Teal McConn
    Livermore




    Stop Open Air Blasts

    Thursday, February 15, 2018
    Source:
    The Independent

    Livermore Lab's high explosives testing range at Site 300, nestled in the hills between Tracy and Livermore, was designated a Superfund Clean-Up site in 1990. Years of open-air blasts with high explosives and toxic and radioactive materials (used in nuclear weapons) have left hazardous waste in the soil and groundwater aquifers.

    Human health and environmental risks can be reduced if clean-up efforts spurred by strong, consistent public pressure and the EPA continue for another 50-80 years. The clean-up is complex, with plumes of uranium, tritium, VOCs, PCBs and other contaminants in the hills and earthquake faults.

    Despite this costly and overwhelming task, the Livermore Lab proposes to further pollute the Site 300 testing range and our region.

    High explosive detonations would increase 10-fold, from 100 pounds/day to 1,000 pounds/day. The annual limit would rise more than 7-fold from 1,000 to 7,500 pounds per year, according to the draft Environmental Assessment.

    There are up to 121 toxic chemicals and hazardous metals listed in the proposal which will pollute the land and potentially rain down on our communities.

    There have been no public hearings on this plan, which was quietly released over Thanksgiving and given only a 45 day comment period.

    The final Environmental Assessment is scheduled for release this month, and will likely give this hazardous project a 'green light' to proceed.

    Contact Tri-Valley CARES, www.trivalleycares.org, to have a voice in this local issue.

    Patricia Moore
    Livermore

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    Misplaced Priorities

    Thursday, January 25, 2018
    Source:
    The Independent

    Despite its primary role as a center for the development of nuclear weapons, the Livermore Lab also makes substantial contributions to civilian science.

    Take for example the Lab's work on climate science, which in 2007 resulted in the awarding of a Nobel Prize to 40 lab employees as part of a team contributing to our understanding of anthropomorphic climate change.

    This is important work, which in any reasonable society, should substantially impact public policy relating to the use of fossil fuels and clean energy.

    However, when one compares the Lab's science budget ($34,920,000) to its nuclear weapons budget ($1,069,973,000) it becomes clear that our government's priorities are severely misplaced.

    The cold war is over, and the United States already has enough nuclear firepower to destroy the world many times over; yet the DOE wastes over a billion dollars a year on a useless, and environmentally harmful program.

    It is my hope that the Livermore Lab becomes exclusively a center for civilian science, and the funds for its nuclear program are allocated to more useful pursuits.

    Brendan Phillips
    Dublin

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    Letter: Bring the nuclear weapons treaty into fruition this year

    Sunday, January 14, 2018
    Source:
    The Mercury News

    My vision for the new year is to end the threat of nuclear war so our children, who will inherit our beautiful Earth, can grow up without fear of instant annihilation.

    It’s possible by the end of 2018 to outlaw nuclear weapons under a new international treaty.

    In July, 122 countries voted to adopt the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” The treaty opened for signatures at the UN in September — 56 countries have formally signed on. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after the 50th country ratifies it.

    The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons received the Nobel Peace Prize in December for its work to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of nuclear weapons. ICAN is a partnership of more than 400 groups in 100 countries, including Tri-Valley CAREs. Join me in working to bring the treaty to fruition this year. For more information: www.icanw.org and www.trivalleycares.org.

    Jo Ann Frisch
    Pleasanton

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    Nuclear Threat

    January 11, 2018
    Source:
    The Independent

    My vision for the New Year is to end the threat of nuclear war so that our children, who will inherit our beautiful earth, can grow up without fear of instant annihilation.

    It’s possible by the end of 2018 to outlaw nuclear weapons development, testing, possession, use, threat of use, transfer and/or providing assistance in any prohibited activity under a new international treaty.

    In July, 122 countries voted to adopt the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” The treaty opened for signatures at the UN in September—56 countries have formally signed on and 3 have already completed ratification procedures.

    The treaty will fully enter into force 90 days after the 50th country ratifies it.

    The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize in December for its work to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of nuclear weapons.

    ICAN is a partnership of more than 400 groups in 100 countries, including Tri-Valley CAREs.

    Join me in working to bring the treaty to fruition this year. For more information: www.icanw.org and www.trivalleycares.org.

    Jo Ann Frisch
    Pleasanton

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