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December 2007 Citizens Watch Newsletter

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A Thank You Letter

from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Dear friends:

On behalf of the Board and staff at Tri-Valley CAREs, I want to offer my sincere gratitude to all of you who have contributed so generously to our success this past year.

I am happy to report that more than 650 of you -- our wonderful members and friends -- have responded to recent funding appeals with gifts ranging from a few dollars to several thousand dollars. Every contribution matters. It is because you care that we are able to continue our effective advocacy for peace, justice and the environment.

In this newsletter, you will find a sampling of our recent victories. Your participation in Tri-Valley CAREs played an important role in achieving each and every win. Your consistent vision of a better tomorrow "keeps us keeping on."

Special thanks are due to the memory of Lottie Fryer, who remembered Tri-Valley CAREs and several other social change organizations she had supported in life with a generous bequest.

I also want to recognize the foundations that are providing crucial support for our work: the Ploughshares Fund, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, Colombe Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, Ben & Jerry's Foundation, Victor & Lorraine Honig Foundation, Tin Man Fund, the New-Land Foundation, Samuel Rubin Foundation, and Connect US and the Sheilah Fund (through Tides Foundation).

Tri-Valley CAREs' work has also been awarded a technical assistance grant from the U.S. EPA, and this past year we completed a three-year project with Syracuse University examining questions of ethics, nuclear weapons science and the impacts on community health.

These contributions publish our newsletter, create reports, sponsor events, keep our office open - and so much more!

As we ready ourselves to embark on our 25

th year (yes!), I wish many blessings for all of you who support Tri-Valley CAREs in so many wonderful ways. It is by working together that we accomplish positive change.


Marylia Kelley, Executive Director

Faulty Plan for Toxic Water Halted

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Contamination from the Livermore Lab main site has been seeping into the community for decades. Pollutants used in laboratory operations percolated through the soil on-site, reached the groundwater layers below and migrated off-site. The largest of these "contaminant plumes" has moved to the west of Livermore Lab and underlies the homes and apartments near the Arroyo Seco, Susan Lane, Charlotte Way and other nearby streets and neighborhoods.

Livermore Lab was named to the EPA's Superfund list in 1987, partly due to this off-site plume's westward movement toward the City of Livermore drinking water wells. The main pollutants in this plume are the toxic chemicals TCE and PCE, with PCE concentrated in the leading edge of the plume (meaning it's traveled the farthest off-site).

Over the years, Livermore Lab has built a system of extraction wells and underground pipelines to bring the contaminated groundwater back on-site where it is treated in specially-built facilities to remove the pollution from the water. The clean water is then put back so that it recharges our groundwater basin, which is a precious resource used for both drinking water and agriculture.

Tri-Valley CAREs has closely monitored the Superfund cleanup at Livermore Lab for decades, both informing the public and providing technical input on the cleanup methodology and progress.

Imagine our dismay when we discovered that Livermore Lab had implemented a "pilot project" to pump the groundwater plume with the toxic PCE and dump it - untreated and polluted above state and federal maximum contaminant levels - into our City sewer lines. The sewer system is not a hazardous waste treatment facility, and so the toxic PCE is neither isolated nor cleaned up. Instead, it is ultimately sent into the San Francisco Bay.

To do the dirty deed, Livermore Lab installed a huge pumping well near Big Trees Park and a community pool, on the west side of Charlotte Way. The groundwater extraction well is designed to pump about 20 million gallons of toxic water into the sewer line each year. According to the Livermore Lab's draft plan, this operation would continue to dump PCE-contaminated water into the sewer for up to 4 years, for a total of 80 million gallons.

Tri-Valley CAREs strenuously objected to this "plan." We met with the DOE, Livermore Lab, the EPA and state regulators. We proposed alternatives that would actually clean the groundwater and allow it to be re-used. And, in December, the federal EPA supported our concerns and weighed in against the Lab's draft plan.

As we go to press, we are getting word from EPA that Livermore Lab is formally withdrawing its proposal to continue dumping toxic water into the sewer. The pumping well near Charlotte Way will be turned off in January. No more contaminated groundwater from the Lab's off-site plume will go to the sewer line and into the Bay.

Livermore Lab will publish a new draft cleanup plan for the PCE-laced groundwater, probably in spring 2008. Tri-Valley CAREs will examine it carefully and keep you, our readers, and the community at large informed. We will ask for public meetings and a public comment period that is long enough for people to adequately respond. Check our web site and upcoming newsletters for updates in early 2008!

Alerts 4 You

from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Wednesday, January 9
Sick Worker Support Group meets
10 AM - Noon, Livermore Library
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

If you or a loved one has been made ill by on-the-job exposures to radioactive or toxic materials while working at Livermore Lab, Sandia Lab or another nuclear weapons site, this support group is for you.

Tuesday, January 15
"U.S. Tour of Duty: The Iran/Iraq Talks"
Featuring Scott Ritter and Jeff Cohen
7:30 PM, Mt. Diablo Unitarian Church
55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
(925) 933-7850, (925) 443-7148

Scott Ritter, former head of the UN weapons inspection teams in Iraq, and media critic Jeff Cohen team up for a town meeting to explore U.S. foreign policy and the news you don't often see reported in the mainstream media. A book sale and signing will follow the presentations. A $5 to $20 contribution is suggested, no one turned away for lack of funds. See for details.

Thursday, January 17
Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM, Livermore Library
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

JOIN US for this important first meeting of the new year. GET ALL THE NEWS on the government's latest plan to revitalize the nuclear weapons complex (hint: it's still a Bombplex). FIND OUT how to stop new nuclear weapons and the infrastructure to build them. PARTICIPATE in advocacy to terminate plutonium at Livermore Lab. SAFEGUARD local community health and the environment. PROMOTE DISARMAMENT at home and around the world. Tri-Valley CAREs has BIG PLANS for 2008 - and we want you to be part of them. Begin your New Years' activism at our January meeting.

Friday, January 18
Local Action to Stop the War
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM, downtown Livermore Fountains
at First St. & Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Join Livermore's monthly anti-war vigil and action. Bring a sign, or come and make one. We will have supplies as well as ready-made signs. (See flier.)

Monday, January 21
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Remembering the Dream,
Marching for Peace
10 AM
United Christian Church
1886 College Ave., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details

Celebrate the life, legacy and ongoing significance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This event will be the 4th annual commemoration of Dr. King sponsored by the Tri-Valley Peace Coalition, of which Tri-Valley CAREs is a member.

Tuesday, January 22
"Popcorn and a Movie"
7:30 PM, Janis Kate's home
749 Hazel St., Livermore
RSVP to Tri-Valley CAREs (925) 443-7148

CONVICTION tells the story of three Dominican nuns and their Plowshares action to symbolically disarm a nuclear warhead. Taking their cue from the Isaiah text to "beat their swords into plowshares," the nuns took it upon themselves to confront the Bush Administration nuclear policy and the looming war on Iraq at a Minuteman III missile silo in Colorado. CONVICTION explores the connections between nuclear weapons, international law, religion, politics, and our cultural definitions of violence and nonviolence. The film runs just under one hour. Popcorn and soft drinks will be served.

Celebrating Our Recent Accomplishments

by Marylia Kelley & Urs Cipolat
from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

On the cusp of our 25th anniversary year, we celebrate our recent accomplishments and all of our members and friends who have made them possible.

The journey has often been long, the obstacles to peace, justice and the environment formidable and the odds of success daunting. Yet we have traveled well together, always lightening the load with our laughter, creativity and dedication. And, more often than not, we have prevailed - in the federal courts, in the Congress and in the community.

As we continue on the path toward a "green lab" in Livermore and a nuclear weapons free world, let us pause and reflect on a few of our 2007 victories.

GOAL: Prevent infrastructure expansion for nuclear and bio-weapon R & D.

SUCCESSES: Last year, we led the opposition to Dept. of Energy (DOE) plans to revitalize and rebuild the nuclear weapons complex. We mobilized hundreds to attend public scoping meetings and speak out against the plan, which DOE called "Complex 2030." We contributed to a record number of written comments to DOE opposing it (33,000 comments). We helped convince Congress not to fund it. The DOE recently renamed the plan "Complex Transformation" and scaled it back slightly. This March, we will be at public hearings again to insist on real and irreversible consolidation of the nuclear weapons complex. On biological weapon issues, we challenged a proposal to locate a massive bio-warfare research complex at Livermore Lab's Site 300, and we won. That proposal has been defeated. Further, we achieved an important victory in the Ninth Circuit Court that held up similar research at the Livermore Lab main site.

Because of our efforts, and yours, we have thus far prevented the U.S. government from mixing "bugs and bombs" at Livermore Lab - and from building a new bombplex at 8 locations across the country.

GOAL: Stop new nukes.

SUCCESSES: We produced the first comprehensive analysis of the DOE's so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, warning Congress that it must cut RRW funding to curtail what we called the "slippery slope to new nuclear weapons." We hand-delivered 150 copies of the report to lawmakers in 2007. We also delivered the report to the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting at the United Nations. This month, as the omnibus spending bill goes through final House and Senate action, it has become clear that Congress will zero out RRW funding for 2008.

While much work remains, and the RRW will almost certainly reemerge when DOE sends its 2009 budget to Congress, we celebrate that the weaponeers designing RRW are stalled for the present. It's a significant victory, and one that we hope to build on in the coming year.

GOAL: Protect community health and the environment.

SUCCESSES: Last year, we collected more than 13,000 signatures on our petition to stop plutonium at Livermore Lab. The petition, which reflects a growing community concern, has been instrumental in educating local and federal policy makers. As a result, DOE agreed to remove the weapons usable quantities of plutonium from Livermore Lab by the end of 2014. We stepped up the pressure for an earlier date. This month, the DOE announced it would accelerate the timetable to 2012. Additionally, our actions convinced the Air Pollution Control District to revoke permits it had previously granted Livermore Lab to detonate up to 5,000 pounds of uranium-238, hundreds of curies of tritium (radioactive hydrogen) and up to 60 other hazardous materials in open-air bomb tests at Site 300.

Due to our work, and yours, these tests did not occur. Recently, the Lab reapplied for the permits, and we have redoubled our efforts to defeat all proposals in the coming year to conduct open-air bomb tests.

GOAL: Win environmental justice and cleanup of pollutants.

SUCCESSES: More than 50 years of nuclear weapons research at Livermore Lab has left its mark on the environment. Both the Lab's main site and its Site 300 high explosives testing range are on the federal EPA's Superfund list of most contaminated sites in the country. In prior years, our actions have upheld the Superfund law and prevented DOE from walking away from cleanup at Livermore Lab. This year, we successfully advocated against a plan that would have sent up to 80 million gallons of toxically contaminated groundwater over a 4-year period into the San Francisco Bay.

Because we acted on behalf of the environment, the DOE will have to come up with a new plan in 2008. We will be there to ensure the toxic contamination emanating from Livermore Lab is isolated, treated and destroyed, not merely passed on from one medium (groundwater) to another (the SF Bay).

Yes, these are challenging times for social change advocates. But there are exciting opportunities as well. And, with your continued support, Tri-Valley CAREs will be there to counter the nuclear weapons establishment and achieve new victories in support of a safer and more peaceful world.

A New Bombplex

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The American people and the Congress rejected the Dept. of Energy's (DOE) "Complex 2030" plan last year. The DOE received a record 33,000 comments objecting to its proposal to revitalize the nuclear weapons complex. Congress refused to fund it. So, this month, DOE unveiled its "kinder, gentler" new bombplex, which is called "Complex Transformation."

Tom D'Agostino, administrator for the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration, put a smiley face on the plan in a briefing for reporters, employees and a few watchdog groups when he said, "Today's nuclear weapons complex needs to move from the outdated Cold War complex to one that is smaller, safer and less expensive." He went on to outline a plan that will consolidate some nuclear materials and knock down old buildings, but go on to build expensive new bomb facilities and an infrastructure geared to new weapons.

D'Agostino insisted that DOE will "need" the new weapons complex with or without the RRW (see page 2 for an RRW update) and irrespective of the size of the U.S. arsenal, though his logic was faulty in this regard.

DOE posted the Draft Executive Summary for its soon to be released Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) on "Complex Transformation." The full, multi-volume draft plan will be published in mid-January.

Tri-Valley CAREs will publish a reader-friendly "guide" to the new bombplex. Get a copy in your next Citizen's Watch.

Your participation is crucial to prevent a new bombplex from becoming a reality. So far, we have stopped the worst of DOE's proposals, now we must turn the pressure up a notch!


In Livermore, March 19, with day and evening sessions, and one evening only session in Tracy on March 18. Circle the dates, details to follow in our January newsletter.

RRW is Cut to Zero

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

As part of an omnibus 2008 spending bill, Congress has zeroed out all funding for the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" (RRW), a new H-bomb that Livermore Lab had been chosen to design.

Tri-Valley CAREs, allied groups and thousands of individuals have worked tirelessly to defeat the RRW program and prevent the U.S. from further violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty by developing and building a series of new nuclear weapons. Curtailing RRW funds is a significant victory, and our thanks go to all the folks inside and outside of Congress who advocated for the cut.

However, before we pop the corks on the champagne, let's more closely examine what the spending bill does and does not do. First, it is a one-year measure. Look for the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to come back with a new RRW proposal in its fiscal year 2009 budget request.

Second, the bill gives the DOE's core nuclear weapons program $6.3 billion, $22 million above 2007 funding levels. The message here is that we have a lot of work to do in the coming year to achieve overall reductions in nuclear weapons spending in addition to winning cuts to specific weapons, however important those may be.

On the positive side, the RRW cut demonstrates continuing Congressional reluctance to fund new nuclear weapons.

This year's omnibus spending bill also requires DOE to submit a comprehensive nuclear weapons strategy and a road map of scientific capabilities for the weapons labs. While DOE will use these studies to "justify" the desires of its weaponeers, they also offer opportunities for independent scientists and the public to provide alternative views.

It is equally significant that the reports will go to Congress on the heels of DOE hearings on the Bombplex (see page 3 for details). This gives the public an accessible venue in which to comment on nuclear weapons policy issues and options. Stay tuned! Get involved!

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