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Sept-Oct 2011 Citizen's Watch Newsletter

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Nuclear Weapons and the "Super Committee"

By Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Nuclear weapons are a liability, making us and the world less safe. Their continued development poisons workers and communities. The International Court of Justice has ruled their use illegal. And, yet, the U.S. will spend more than $61 billion on its nuclear weapons this year, according to Global Zero.

The Ploughshares Fund estimates that spending on U.S. nuclear weapons will top $700 billion over the coming decade when projected increases in the Dept. of Energy (DOE) warheads/weapons complex and the Dept. of Defense (DoD) delivery vehicles/platforms are factored into the equation.

Achievable Cuts Galore

Tri-Valley CAREs and allies in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability have taken a particularly close look at the DOE portion of the budget. We found more than a billion dollars in immediate cuts to dangerous new nuclear weapon projects in the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget request and more than $100 billion that should be cut from DOE nuclear weapons programs and nuclear power subsidies over the coming ten years.

Within that $100 billion, we recommend cutting weapon Life Extension Programs like the one that will create a new B61-12 "Frankenbomb," the proposed plutonium factory at Los Alamos Lab, a MOX (mixed oxide) fuel plant at the Savannah River Site, and much more. (For details, see two reports on our web site: "The NNSA Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities" and "Nuclear Reality Check$.")

Now entering the budget scene is the U.S. Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the "Super Committee." This group of 12 (6 Senators, 6 Reps; one-half Ds, one-half Rs) is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in budget cuts to be taken over the next ten years.

One might reasonably think the Super Committee would be excited to discover that it can cut $100 billion from the DOE budget, while simultaneously making the country and its people safer. Yet, so far, the committee is showing no inclination to look into the DOE nuclear funding trough, despite its obvious nuclear pork.

Further, the DoD portion of the nuclear weapons budget can yield up billions more in savings. Merely dialing back U.S. plans for a new ballistic missile submarine fleet from twelve subs to eight would save $27 billion over ten years. Canceling the program would save its lifetime cost of $347 billion. Similarly, delaying the new Long Range Penetrating Bomber would save about $4 billion over the coming 10 years, while canceling it would save $50 billion over 30 years.

Instead, we hear daily about how our libraries, schools, public transit, social security, Medicaid, Medicare - and more - should all be on the chopping block. This aims the cuts at the poor, the young, the sick and the elderly. We the people know better than to do that, and recent surveys confirm that these, in fact, are not the public's choices for budget cuts. Surely, some in Congress see that, too?

A Clarion Call

Recently, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) drafted a letter to the Super Committee and circulated it among his colleagues for signatures. Markey's proposal would, in his words, "save hundreds of billions of dollars by restructuring the U.S. nuclear weapons program for the 21st Century."

Markey further stated, "We can no longer afford to rob the future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past. Now is the time to reset our priorities!" The letter is titled, "Freeze the Nukes, Fund the Future," and it calls on the Super Committee to cut $200 billion out of nuclear weapons and related programs over ten years. Sixty-four Representatives signed it, including ten from the greater Bay Area: Rep. Miller, Stark, Lee, Honda, Woolsey, Filner, Eshoo, Speier, Farr, and Matsui.

ACTION REQUEST: If you have one of the ten as your Rep., please take a minute to call and say, "thank you." If your Rep. is not on the list, please let him or her know you are disappointed. Both kinds of calls are important in ensuring that your member of Congress knows you are advocating for funding cuts to the nuclear weapons budget. The capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. (And, if you don't live in the Bay Area, check our website for the full list of co-signers.)

FOLLOW UP: Did you know that you can contact the Super Committee and tell them what to cut? Recently, the committee co-chairs set up an electronic suggestion box for the public. Let's fill it! Use the info in this article to tell the committee to cut the nuclear weapons budget. Log in at: Please send your email ASAP.

We thank you!

Your Strategic Planning Report

by Scott Yundt from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Recently, Tri-Valley CAREs' board of directors, staff, and members gathered for our annual strategic planning retreat. After reviewing our mission statement, we undertook a "SWOT" by breaking into four groups, each assigned to analyze Tri-Valley CAREs and the external environment according to one of four areas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This helped set the foundation for planning our specific strategy and programs.

Executive Director Marylia Kelley then shared a review of the group's 2010 strategic plan - and the many accomplishments that Tri-Valley CAREs has achieved over the past 12 months. This gave us the opportunity to relish the results of our hard work, and to set our sights on what we need to do in the coming year.

Next came the all-important discussion of potential program priorities. After votes were taken and counted, seven programs made the grade: 1) Stop new nuclear weapons and bomb plants; 2) Improve the cleanup of pollution at LLNL; 3) Stop or limit bio-warfare research at LLNL; 4) Promote conversion of LLNL & Sandia, Livermore to a "Green Lab" that removes them from the weapons complex; 5) Constrain the National Ignition Facility's utility to new weapons design; 6) Obtain justice for workers at LLNL & Sandia, Livermore made ill by on the job exposures; and, 7) Promote global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

We also voted on internal priorities for the coming year. Top ranked were: technology, fundraising, outreach and board development.

The balance of the day was devoted to "campaign" planning for our top ranked priorities. Join us in achieving concrete victories on them in the coming year!

August Actions at Livermore Lab

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The banner read, "From Hiroshima to Fukushima to Livermore: Confronting the Two-headed Dragon of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power." At the microphone, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, author of "Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free," wove stories to deepen our understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle. In the background loomed Livermore Lab, reminding us why we were at this location at this moment.

This was the evening of August 6, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. About 200 gathered, listening to speakers, including also Dr. Robert Gould on radiation, Jackie Cabasso on global disarmament, and Marylia Kelley on nuclear weapons work at Livermore Lab and its impacts, from robbing money from schools, libraries and health care to causing irreparable damage to health and the environment. Emma's Revolution and local singer Kaylah Marin created amazing music. Food not Bombs provided a feast. As darkness descended, the group went to the Livermore Lab fence (on which we hung a screen) and a video hookup linked us with Hiroshima and one of the city's hibakusha, Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, now 82, who had been in class when the atomic bomb was dropped.

On August 9, Nagasaki Day, 75 people gathered at the Livermore Lab West Gate for a solemn ceremony and nonviolent direct action. Saori Matsuoka, a Japanese exchange student staying in Livermore, spoke of Fukushima, saying this time Japan unleashed the tragedy "by our own hands." Also speaking at the gates was David Seaborg, son of atomic scientist Glenn Seaborg. Then, as Bev King sounded the air raid siren, many protestors lay in the road, while supporters outlined their bodies in chalk to symbolize the charred outlines that were the sole remaining testament to people who had been conducting daily life when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Twenty protestors were arrested when they "failed to disperse."

Toxic Groundwater Plan for Livermore: Progress, danger and what to do next

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Nuclear weapons activities at the Livermore Lab main site have polluted the air, water and soil since 1952. Toxic and radioactive materials from Livermore Lab operations have been found in the area's agricultural products, local parks and city sewer sludge, among other places.

In 1987, the federal EPA placed the Livermore Lab main site on its National Priorities List, commonly called the Superfund list, of most contaminated locations in the nation. Soil and/or groundwater at the Livermore Lab main site was found to be polluted with volatile organic compounds, hexavalent chromium, Freon, radioactive tritium, plutonium, and a host of other dangerous wastes. The cleanup, begun in the 1980s, is expected to take another 50 years or more to complete.

Still, there is much to celebrate. Soil and groundwater treatment facilities on site have been constructed and successfully employed to remove pollutants, although there is much more to be done and several pollutants (like tritium) pose novel challenges to the cleanup process.

Perhaps most hopeful are the ways in which public comment has served to improve the Lab's Superfund cleanup. The plan for the off-site contaminated groundwater plume under our homes is one such success, though its story is still in-progress. Indeed, your input at this juncture can help us write a happy ending for it.

The story begins 5 years ago, when the Lab began a so-called "pilot project" to deal with the toxic contamination at the "leading edge" of the off-site plume, which extends about a half-mile into the community. The plume runs under various city streets and the Arroyo Seco, across Charlotte Way, and under Big Trees Park and the community swimming pool. (See map on page 2.)

The Lab began pumping toxic water from the aquifer at Big Trees Park - and then dumped the water directly into the sewer line that runs along Charlotte Way. Problem was, this did not clean it up! The water was ending up in the San Francisco Bay, untreated.

After Tri-Valley CAREs and other community members objected, the Lab withdrew the plan. This was a huge victory for community input. However, it left the Lab without a plan for remediating the leading, or outer, edge of the off-site contaminant plume.

Again the community stepped up and participated in the Superfund process, and a consensus plan has been developed that involves construction of a pipeline out to the edge of the plume, pumping the tainted water and then piping it back to the Lab for on-site treatment. This plan represents a major success and is due to community input. But, now, we must address one of the remaining dangers.

The main contaminant in the leading edge of the off-site plume is PCE, a volatile organic compound. According to some reports, the leading edge may also contain hexavalent chromium and TCE, which are pollutants that have been found in other groundwater locations affected by the Lab.

The good news is that the hazardous constituents in the off-site plume can be pulled out of the water at an on-site treatment facility using well-understood methods. The bad news is that the Lab will have to build its pipeline through soils known to be contaminated with plutonium, a long-lived radioactive element that is dangerous in minute quantities. And, the Lab's detailed design for the pipeline project does not adequately address this hazard.

Tri-Valley CAREs is hosting a community meeting on Nov. 3 at 7 PM. A main goal is to gather public comment on the importance of protecting workers and the community during the pipeline construction. Environmental scientist Peter Strauss will discuss dust suppression and air monitoring for contaminants. Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director, Marylia Kelley, will offer an overview of the Superfund cleanup and share ways we can impact decisions. And, board member and attorney Loulena Miles will have sample comments ready for participants to consider.

This important meeting will be held near the leading edge of the off-site plume, and a "plume tour" with flashlights will be available to those who wish to go.

For more information, please see our links below to our community meeting flier and our petition to ensure adequate funding for the Livermore Lab Superfund cleanup in English and Spanish. We hope you will take this opportunity to ensure that your voice is heard. It will make a difference!

Click here to read, download and print the Community Meeting Flier, which includes a map of the pipeline extension project

Click here For Our PETITION to Clean Up Livermore Lab

Haga Clic Aqui Para Nuestra Peticion en Espanol

Print Bites: All the News that Fits to Print

by Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

- Fukushima news. Women from Fukushima are traveling by bus to the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry in Tokyo. They are planning a sit-in Oct. 27-29. Beginning Oct. 30, they are inviting women from throughout Japan to join them, particularly those who live near the country's 54 nuclear power plants. The women have two key demands: One, government support for the evacuation of Fukushima children, and, two, that the government halt resumption of 43 nuclear power plants currently shut down for maintenance "check ups," refueling and the like.

Presently, government financial support is offered to evacuees only within the 12.4 mile official evacuation zone. Those living outside the limit must bear the expense themselves, which many cannot afford to do. According to Fukushima organic farmer and mother, Sachiko Sato, "families are being ripped apart." In Sept., Aileen Mioko Smith, head of Green Action Japan, submitted a petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for the rights of Fukushima's children to evacuate.

- Insignificant risks? In late August, the DOE NNSA made final its decision to limit review of the environmental impacts of Livermore Lab's operations over the next five years to a cursory "Supplement Analysis," the most minimal level of review possible under the law. The decision stretches the boundaries of credulity by announcing that 23 new Lab activities will pose only insignificant impacts to the environment. The new activities include: allowing higher yield blasts in the National Ignition Facility, with lots of escaping neutrons and radioactive "skyshine" bouncing around the site; increased tritium emissions due to bypassed filters; increased use of toxic beryllium; and, increases in nuclear wastes.

- Nuclear "Frankenbomb." As we have reported, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plans to "life extend" the B61 tactical nuclear bomb stationed in Europe with mix and matched components from up to four different versions of the weapon in order to create a new, highly-modified "Frankenbomb," called the B61-12. Costs are estimated at about $4 billion. A recent report, released by the appropriations subcommittee chaired by our CA Sen. Dianne Feinstein, discusses some of what we have been saying all along, e.g., that "NNSA plans to incorporate untried technologies and design features" in the new bomb. Then, in late Sept., John Fleck wrote an article in the Albuquerque Journal on the B61-12. In it he quotes Bob Peurifoy, the retired head of stockpile surveillance and evaluation at Sandia, stating that these changes are risking the weapon's existing reliability. Further, he quotes Roger Logan, retired head of directed stockpile work at Livermore Lab, who says the NNSA plan is "the exact opposite of what should be done." Logan concluded, "I would much rather that the B61 be left alone." We concur, though we would add that its next moves should be retirement and dismantlement.

- More tritium? The DOE NNSA has announced its intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to support increased military tritium production in civilian light water reactors. Tritium is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen used to boost the explosive power of nuclear weapons. The notice, published in the Federal Register on Sept. 28, 2011, reveals that tritium operations already occurring at the Watts Bar reactor are releasing three to four times more tritium into the Tennessee River than had been predicted in the original EIS. Tri-Valley CAREs is on record opposing the use of civilian reactors to produce military tritium due to the inherent proliferation problems. We will also produce comments on this SEIS. All public "scoping" comments are due Nov. 14, 2011. Instructions can be found in the FR notice posted on our website under "government documents."

- Plutonium update. Tri-Valley CAREs has been working for decades to put a stop to Livermore Lab's use and storage of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. In recent years, we have won a partial but significant victory in that DOE NNSA has agreed to remove the nuclear bomb usable quantities of these materials from Livermore. On Aug. 31, the government announced it had removed 90% of Category I/II (i.e., the bomb usable amounts) of these materials from the Lab. This is a step forward in our efforts to curtail Livermore Lab's nuclear weapons activities and safeguard our communities. However, the Lab intends to keep lesser quantities of these materials indefinitely. We intend differently! Stay tuned.

Alerts 4 U

from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, October 20

Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM to 9 PM, Livermore Library
1188 South Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Come to our Oct. meeting. We will have up-to-the-minute news on nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, Livermore Lab, cleanup and the nuclear power industry. Our meetings are a great place to become more active and informed - and to meet wonderful people. New friends and long-time members are welcome. Tri-Valley CAREs meets on the third Thursday of the month, except for Dec. So, circle your calendar now for our Nov. 17 meeting, too.

Tuesday, November 1

Sacred Sites Peacewalk for a Nuclear-Free World
4:30 PM, Welcoming ceremony
6 PM, Pot luck at Tri-Valley CAREs
Livermore events: (925) 443-7148
Walk info: Click here

Native elders and activists, Buddhist monks, native Japanese (including Buddhist nun, Jun-san) and others are undertaking a two-week peace walk from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to Livermore Lab to the Sogorea Te/Glen Cove sacred site in Vallejo. According to organizers, "With the tragedy of Fukushima in our hearts, we will walk 15-18 miles a day looking into the safety of the land and people along our route, the still present danger of nuclear weapons, the poisonous nuclear fuel cycle, and how to end the nuclear nightmare in California and worldwide." The walk will take place Oct. 22 - Nov. 6. If you wish to join the walk, or if you can offer assistance along the way, contact

On Nov. 1, the peace walkers will arrive in Livermore. Tri-Valley CAREs will welcome them at 4:30 PM at the Livermore Lab at Vasco Road and Westgate Drive. We will join the walk organizers and native elders in conducting ceremony for this land, its people and a nuclear-free future. All are welcome to join us there.

Following the ceremony, Tri-Valley CAREs will host the walkers for a potluck celebration and sharing. Space is limited, and so an RSVP is required. Call Marylia at (925) 443-7148 or email Call, also, if you can provide a bed or sofa for a walker and return him/her to the TVC office at 8 AM the following day.

Wednesday, November 2

Sick Workers Support Group
Noon to 2 PM, Livermore Library, Room A
1188 South Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Have you, your spouse, parent or someone you love been made ill by on-the-job exposure to radiation and/or toxic materials at Livermore Lab or the Sandia, Livermore site? Have you applied for compensation and benefits from the highly-bureaucratic Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA)? If you answered "yes" to either question, come to our support group meeting to connect with others going through similar experiences and learn how we can help. The group is facilitated by Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt. Email to get on the list for future events - or to get more information.

Thursday, November 3

Community Meeting on the Superfund cleanup at the Livermore Lab
7 PM to 8:30 PM, 749 Hazel St., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 RSVP REQUIRED

Join us. Learn how your input can improve the cleanup of hazardous and radioactive pollutants at Livermore Lab. We will focus on the near-term decisions being made regarding the off-site toxic groundwater plume. RSVP is not required, but would be helpful in planning snacks and seating. Call or email For details, see the flier and insert.

Livermore Lab Tour 4 U

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' September/October 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Here is your invitation to get "inside the fence" at a classified nuclear weapons lab. Tri-Valley CAREs has set up this special tour of Livermore Lab's main site on the eastern edge of town for our members and supporters. The visit will take place on Wed., Nov. 9 from 9 AM to 1 PM. (Note: See below for badging information, which must be received by Nov. 1 at the latest.)

This tour will include several of the on-site Superfund cleanup facilities dealing with contaminated soil and groundwater as well as some of the weapons facilities and other sites of interest. We are arranging special briefings from Lab technical staff along the way.

Our goal is to provide a unique opportunity for you to catch a first-hand glimpse of what is going on inside the nuclear weapons lab - the good, the bad and the truly ugly.

The Lab main site was founded in 1952 to speed development of new nuclear weapons. The mission has not changed. The Dept. of Energy's current budget for Livermore Lab devotes nearly 89% of its resources to nuclear weapons activities. Cleanup gets around 2%, of which the main site gets about half (the other half goes to clean up Site 300).

We are negotiating with the Lab re: what we will see. We have confirmed: Treatment Facility A, where the off-site pipeline project will bring back water pumped from the neighborhoods; the 5475 Area, where mixed radioactive and toxic water poses particular difficulties; and one of the innovative treatment facilities. We have asked to also visit the High Explosives Application Facility, the National Ignition Facility and the Tritium Facility, among others.

To attend, you must RSVP to Tri-Valley CAREs by Nov. 1. The required data for badging is: full name, drivers license or U.S. passport #, date & place of birth, and social security #. We are offering this tour "first-come, first served," so call us right away.

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