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Citizen's Watch Newsletter Summer 2015

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Urgent and Toxic

by Marylia Kelley and Scott Yundt from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2015 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

You have a unique opportunity right now to safeguard public health and the environment. Tri-Valley CAREs is demanding an Environmental Impact Report on hazardous waste activities at Livermore Lab. Here are the facts and how you can help.

In June, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) held a public hearing in Livermore on its Draft Permit Renewal for Livermore Lab’s hazardous waste treatment and storage facilities. More than 20 local residents showed up and expressed concerns about the draft permit. The DTSC took notes, but made no promises.

The renewed permit would allow Livermore Lab to treat and store 913,270 gallons of liquid and solid hazardous wastes. Further, it would allow the Lab to treat 600 tons of solid hazardous wastes per year, including uniquely dangerous wastes. These wastes are toxic, reactive, corrosive, ignitable and/or mixed with radioactive elements. They all pose serious threats to human health and the environment if released due to improper storage, handling, or accident. The permit is intended to prevent this type of release.

Once issued, this permit will remain in place for ten years according to regulations. However, the duration could be even longer given that DTSC issued Livermore Lab its first and only similar operating permit sixteen years ago, in 1999. So, a lax or deficient permit issued now can create dangers that will persist long into the future.

Tri-Valley CAREs has closely monitored the permit renewal process thus far and has reviewed the voluminous and highly technical draft permit documents. To our surprise the DTSC documents propose issuing a permit without conducting an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Waste operations at Livermore Lab have changed considerably since DTSC issued the original permit, yet this permit renewal is being based on old data. “We expected that the permit renewal would be based on a thorough examination of Livermore Lab’s current hazardous waste facilities and future plans,” explained Marylia Kelley, the group’s Executive Director. “Imagine our shock when we found it is being largely based on data that are 10 years old and out of date.”

This draft permit does not analyze or incorporate future hazardous waste streams that are anticipated at Livermore Lab. For example, it fails to consider that Livermore Lab is home to four of the ten most dangerously contaminated unused facilities in the nuclear weapons complex. Decontamination will, by definition, create new waste streams. The new permit must consider the safety questions of how best to handle, store and/or dispose of these wastes. Yet DTSC makes no mention of them.

Additionally, the permit is based on outdated analyses of potential earthquake damage leading to hazardous waste releases. Public sources from the State of California and USGS show that the Livermore Lab is subject to greater ground motion, cracking and liquefaction hazards than was previously considered. In short, this means that the workers and public will be put in danger if this permit renewal does not include the latest earthquake calculations, and currently it does not.

Tri-Valley CAREs also contends that the permit lacks other needed analyses, including of cumulative impacts, housing incompatible wastes in close proximity (2.5 feet apart for solids while stacked 2 barrels high) and more. Further, the permit does not state the frequency of DTSC inspections, consider alternative processes that could reduce the generation of hazardous wastes, or include specific measures to mitigate potential hazards.

The State must not issue the permit in its present form,” concluded Staff Attorney Scott Yundt. “At a minimum, DTSC must first conduct an EIR, fully analyzing the Lab’s hazardous waste streams, operations and facilities, as well as alternatives and mitigation measures.”

The public comment period on the draft permit ends August 3, although DTSC will consider comments that are submitted shortly after that date. Enclosed, you will find a “sign and send” comment that you can submit by email or postal mail.

Click here for more information on the permit.

Disarmament at Livemore Lab

by Marylia Kelley and Scott Yundt from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2015 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Seventy years ago, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. We will gather this year at Livermore Lab on Thurs., Aug. 6 at 8 AM to remember the past and change the future. We invite you to stand with us to demand U.S. and global nuclear disarmament.

Our theme this year is “70 Years of Nuclear Weapons - At What Cost?” The rally program will emphasize the human costs of nuclear weapons. It will also illuminate U.S. plans to launch what weapons scientists call “the second nuclear age,” and for which the government will spend a trillion dollars over the next thirty years.

Our keynote speaker will be famed whistleblower and nuclear analyst, Daniel Ellsberg. We will also hear from Chizu Hamada, Marylia Kelley and Jackie Cabasso. Country Joe McDonald and Daniel Zwickel will perform great music for us.

At 9AM, there will be a call to action and a short march from the corner of Patterson Pass Rd. and Vasco Rd. (where the rally takes place) to Livermore Lab’s West Gate where those who choose will peaceably risk arrest. Others will provide supportive witness. A traditional Japanese Bon Dance will be performed in the gate.

Vanpools are available from the Dublin/Pleasanton Bart Station, but you must reserve a seat in advance by calling (925) 443-7148. This event is sponsored by dozens of groups, including Tri-Valley CAREs. A flier is enclosed, and more information is available at here We hope to see you there!

Abandoned Nuclear Facilities Pose High Contamination Risk

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2015 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Heavily contaminated, deteriorating facilities at Livermore Lab pose an increasing, yet often overlooked, danger to workers, the public and the environment. These are major facilities no longer in use, but never decontaminated.

The Dept. of Energy (DOE) Inspector General (IG) calls these disintegrating buildings “high-risk” due to the severe toxic and radioactive hazards lurking in their walls, floors, duct work and filters.

Recently the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration compiled a “Top 10” list of its most decrepit facilities causing the highest hazards throughout the weapons complex. Shockingly, four of the top ten are at Livermore Lab.

Bldg. 251 is the Lab’s heavy elements facility, which supported nuclear testing and related research. Contaminants include plutonium, uranium, curium and beryllium. The facility’s roof has failed and is leaking over contaminated areas. Radiological contaminants have migrated. Electrical fires and other events caused by water intrusion may lead to a catastrophic release.

Next on the list is Bldg. 280, the Livermore pool type reactor (pictured). It is contaminated with various radioactive isotopes and toxic beryllium. Cracks in the reactor shield became evident in 2010. Risks include breach of the structure or associated piping that could release contamination. The reactor shield’s design does not meet code due to less than minimum reinforcement, which increases the risk of catastrophic failure.

Third is Bldg. 175, the Mars uranium enrichment facility, used for atomic vapor laser isotope separation experiments. It has a structurally failing roof above contaminated areas, resulting in water intrusion that may be spreading contamination.

Finally, Bldg. 292 is the rotating target neutron source facility, where tritium (radioactive hydrogen) contaminated water has leaked from an underground tank into the environment and been transpired by nearby trees and other vegetation.

According to the DOE IG, delays in cleaning up these buildings expose “employees and the public to ever-increasing levels of risk.” Yet, says the IG, the date to begin decontamination activities has been pushed out ten years to 2025 and more likely to 2035 or later.

NNSA does not want to pay to decontaminate these old weapons facilities. And DOE’s environmental management (EM) office does not have the money to do it alone.

Tri-Valley CAREs is advocating that the President’s next budget request set up a separate line item dedicated to addressing these dangerous facilities, with some money from NNSA and some from EM. This must become a priority now, before the coming El Nino year or the next earthquake causes catastrophic failure.

Print Bites: All the News that Fits the Print

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2015 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Faithful Nuclear Protest. The Y-12 nuclear “Transform Now Plowshares” were released from prison in mid-May after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their conviction on sabotage charges. The three, Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli, will be resentenced on the federal charge of damaging government property on Sept. 15, 2015, according to their defense team. It is hoped that “timed served” will be the outcome. Stay tuned.

U.S. Mayors Stand Up.

In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors concluded its meeting in San Francisco with a strong resolution supporting both diplomacy with Iran and nuclear disarmament on the part of the world’s nuclear weapons states. In particular, the Mayors called on the U.S. “President and Congress to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement, and to redirect those funds to address the pressing needs of cities.” The USCM also reaffirmed its support for the “Mayors for Peace” disarmament platform and asked decision-makers to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to better understand the reality of nuclear weapons.

Pope Francis on Nuclear Weapons.The Vatican has long held a position against nuclear weapons, but Pope Francis is broadening, deepening and prioritizing that opposition. In a clear statement titled, “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition,” Francis said in December, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road for their abolition.” The Pope deliberately chose those words to put to rest prior Vatican ambiguity on nuclear deterrence (i.e., that it could be accepted temporarily if it led to disarmament). No, the possession of nuclear arms is, itself, unequivocally immoral, he concluded. Then, in January, Pope Francis went on to proclaim nuclear disarmament as a major goal alongside the need to address global warming. Next, the Pope will address the U.S. Congress on September 24 and the UN General Assembly the following day. Dare we hope that he will double down on his call for nuclear weapons abolition?

Humanitarian Pledge.At the conclusion of the “Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons,” attended by more than 150 governments in December, Austria released a Pledge, which served as a clarion call to abolition, to full implementation of disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to a new, active pursuit of measures to “fill the legal gap for [nuclear weapons] prohibition.” The “legal gap” refers to the lack of a timetable for eliminating arsenals in Article VI, and it could be filled in several ways, including by a ban treaty, by a more formal nuclear weapons convention, or by other agreements. The Austrian Pledge was exciting to be sure, but there’s more to this story. During the NPT Review Conference at the UN this spring, the unwillingness of the nuclear weapons states to disarm caused a stampede of sorts among the non-nuclear weapons states. At the end of the 4-week NPT Review, more than 100 countries had endorsed the Austrian Pledge. Thus, it was renamed, and “The Humanitarian Pledge” was born. As of mid-July there are 113 governments on board, and more are likely to join. The Humanitarian Pledge and the conferences that spawned it showcase the rising empowerment of non-nuclear weapons states demanding disarmament. Tri-Valley CAREs will continue to support the forward momentum of this most welcome movement.

MOX News.Tri-Valley CAREs and allied groups across the country got a boost this spring when the Congressionally mandated study on the cost of the plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel facility became public. And, the cost estimate is… $52 billion to construct and operate the plant. The study estimates that $4.4 billion has already been sunk into the beleaguered facility at the Savannah River Site, and that there will likely be an additional $47.5 billion spent if the project moves forward at the rate of $500 million/year. Moreover, the costs to decontaminate and decommission the facility are not included in the $52 billion. Still, South Carolina politicians are determined to keep the MOX pork barrel funding rolling in. We will continue to oppose it.

TVC Wins a Medal.Tri-Valley CAREs’ float in the Livermore Rodeo Parade this June highlighted toxic and radioactive wastes at the Lab and our group’s efforts to obtain a thorough environmental cleanup. Our Board President’s vehicle was pressed into service and festooned with banners and symbols. Our members, from ages 4 and up, carried signs, banners and balloons. We leafleted the crowd. And, we won Third Place in our amateur float category. A big shout out to everyone who volunteered! Check out photos of our parade entry under the “TVC in Photos” tab on our website.

Marshall Islands Appeal.The Republic of the Marshall Islands recently appealed the dismissal of their federal case against the U.S. The suit seeks U.S. compliance with Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires good faith negotiations relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. Tri-Valley CAREs was among several groups from around the country to submit an Amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting the Marshall Islands case by asking the appeals court to overturn the dismissal. Our brief can be found on our website, and more can be learned at

Diplomacy Wins.Take a moment to celebrate the historic nuclear agreement with Iran. Then, take a few more to ensure that those who want to bomb Iran fail in their attempt to derail that agreement. Call Senator Dianne Feinstein and thank her for her stalwart support of diplomacy with Iran over war. Ask her to keep speaking out. Call Senator Barbara Boxer, who is said to favor the deal but has yet to publicly commit, and ask her to speak now in support of the agreement. Finally, call Rep. Swalwell (or your local Rep.) and ask him to support the deal. Swalwell’s letter to constituents on the Iran deal is indecisive. Use this toll-free number, (855) NOWAR (686-6927) or the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You will find a more detailed analysis here with links to the negotiated agreement and related documents.

Alerts 4 U

from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2015 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Saturday, August 1

Free Film Screening: Message From Hiroshima
6:30 PM Potluck, 7:00 PM Film
IBEW, 6250 Village Parkway, Dublin.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Join us for this free public screening in conjuction with the events we are sponsoring to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. This brand new film includes testimonials, along with computer-generated recreations of restaurants, shoe stores, cinemas, and the famous Industrial Promotion Hall. It takes us deep into the hustle and bustle of a lost culture and people. After the film, there will be a question and answer period with Marylia Kelley,

August 4 - August 9

70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Peace Walk, Peace Camp, Non-Violent Direct Action, and Peace Fast
(925) 443-7148 for details

See Insert for more information...

Thursday, August 20

Tri-Valley CAREs meeting
7:30 PM – 9 PM, Livermore Library
Community Room A, 1188 South Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Tri-Valley CAREs’ monthly meeting is a chance to hear about the issues we are currently working on, meet and mingle with our members and staff and discuss upcoming events. Don’t miss it. Snacks and refreshments will be served.

Click here to download the PDF.