Reading Room

February 2007 Citizens Watch Newsletter

Green Team Files Bid Protest

by Marylia Kelley and Bob Schaeffer
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

A team of organizations seeking to transform the Livermore nuclear weapons lab into an environmental research facility today filed a formal protest with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for denying its management proposal. The fourteen-page document claims "improper and biased handling" of the group's bid.

Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC charges that DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) acted improperly by rejecting the bid on grounds that were "factually incorrect, unsubstantiated, biased and prejudicial, contrary to regulations and/or easily corrected." The bidders seek legal relief in the form of "reinstatement" as an active competitor for the Livermore Lab contract. The protest also requests a suspension of the NNSA's procurement process until the group is put back on equitable footing with other bidders. The protest was filed under the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

"Our protest rests on the moral and legal principle of fair competition," explained Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and a leader of the bidding team. "Our bid was unfairly eliminated from the competition because NNSA officials involved in the evaluation did not agree with its philosophical and political approach to attracting more civilian science to Livermore Lab and moving the facility away from classified nuclear weapons activities over time."

The "green team's" protest charges the NNSA:

  • Made factually-incorrect assertions in its grounds for rejecting the bid, including by claiming that information was missing from the bid package when it was there.
  • Made unsubstantiated allegations in its basis for rejecting the bid, including allegations that the bid would "inhibit NNSA from complying with the law" even though the bid closely aligned with congressional directives to remove weapons-usable plutonium from Livermore Lab before 2014.
  • Acted in a biased and prejudicial manner in its rejection of the bid by treating the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC and its proposal differently than it treated competitors.
  • Used grounds in rejecting the bid that could easily have been corrected under the provisions of FAR, for example by rejecting the group's proposal because it provided the managing entity's board of directors list but not the lists for other partners.
  • Conducted a legally-deficient process in disallowing the GREEN, LLC bid, including by canceling a debriefing meeting as team members were calling in, and then refusing to reschedule it.

The group also cited congressional disapproval of the NNSA's Livermore Lab bidding process. The GREEN LLC's protest includes Rep. David Hobson's letter late last year as Chair of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Hobson wrote: "In mandating competition, it was the intent of Congress to attract the widest possible group of interested bidders... The [DOE] has resisted moving in the direction of fair and open competitive processes. Unfortunately, [DOE] has? telegraphed to the contractor community that innovative ideas and concepts would not be favorably received."

"Congress is increasingly recognizing that DOE, particularly its nuclear weapons arm, makes up its own rules to suit itself," concluded Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, another member of the bidding team.

"Our proposal for transforming Livermore must be reinstated so the U.S. can comply with its legal obligations to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime, and not undermine it with new nuclear weapons and expanding production," Coghlan continued.

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulations, NNSA is required to provide for inexpensive, procedurally simple and expeditious resolution of the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC protest. This process can include alternative dispute resolution, third party review and use of other agency's personnel. The Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC's protest welcomes all these approaches. Moreover, it also requests that the NNSA establish an "independent review" for the protest, as allowed under the law.

Bring the Troops Home!

by Loulena Miles
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

President Bush proposes to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq with no timeline for ending the war, bringing the U.S. military presence to more than 150,000. In response, half a million or more protested in Washington, DC and in cities across the country. And, a handful of pioneering Members of Congress, led by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Santa Rosa), have submitted a bill to bring the troops home.

In introducing what is being called the first comprehensive bill to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, Rep. Woolsey was joined by California colleagues Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson and Bob Filner.

Woolsey highlighted the disparity between the President's idea of what more troops in Iraq will accomplish and what will occur: "What the President fails to grasp is that our military presence is only fueling the insurgency, plunging Iraq further into chaos and civil war," she said.

Woolsey further stated: "The results of Nov. 7th showed just how fed up the [public] is with the President's failed Iraq policy. It is time to honor that mandate. It is now up to the Congress to catch up with the will of the American public."

"The Congress has already appropriated funding that will support our troops and keep this occupation going for at least another six months. That funding instead should be used to finance an aggressive withdrawal plan that brings our troops home to their families. Our bill would do exactly that," Woolsey concluded.

H.R. 508: The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act is a plan to withdraw US forces and military contractors within six months of the bill's enactment; repeal authorization for the use of force; prohibit permanent military bases in Iraq; provide economic aid to the Iraqi people; and fully fund health care for U.S. veterans.

The bill is co-sponsored (so far) by: Lynn Woolsey (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Maxine Waters (CA), Diane Watson (CA), James McGovern (MA), Barney Frank (MA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Chaka Fattah (PA), Jerrold Nadler (NY), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Steve Cohen (TN), Maurice Hinchey (NY), Bob Filner (CA), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Donald Payne (NJ) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX).

Honoring Dr. King, Marching for Peace

by Mary Perner
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Monday, Jan. 15, Tri-Valley CAREs and others in the Tri-Valley Peace Coalition gathered at Livermore's United Christian Church for the third annual commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the occasion of his birthday.

Judith Flanagan's recorder music and K. Jones dedication to Coretta Scott King initiated the program. Local author Prabha Duneja, spoke of the spiritual ties between Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi and their mutual adherence to the principles of non-violence.

Reverend Martha Williams led a guided visualization. Many of the hundred or so in attendance were young people. Mary Perner, Tri-Valley CAREs' Community Organizer, invited youth to share their dreams of peace. Asale Kimaada provided a beautiful background display.

In the activist spirit of Dr. King, the event culminated with participants creating their own placards and marching for peace through city streets to Lizzie Fountain in downtown Livermore. Community members held a vigil at the busy corner of First St. and Livermore Ave. to mourn the troops and civilians fallen in Iraq and to call for an end to war. The vigilers received lots of interest and many honks of support.

Site 300 Bio-Lab Opposition Reaches 6,500!

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

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to eye Livermore Lab's Site 300 as a possible location for its half-a-million square foot National Bio and Agro Defense (NBAF) bio-warfare agent research facility. If and when it is built, this facility is expected to house the most deadly diseases on earth, and will experiment on large animals on 30 - 100 acres of land.

You may remember the DHS was supposed to announce its finalist list of sites from the 14 contenders (Texas, Kentucky, California, Kansas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Mississippi, N. Carolina) sometime around the end of last year. Instead, DHS has opted to tour all 14 sites before it announces its choice(s). Once the finalist sites are selected, environmental studies and construction of the facility will follow. In the meantime, Livermore Lab is busy contacting all of the city councils and community members in Tracy and surrounding areas to curry favor and stifle citizen opposition to the bio-war research lab.

Even so, the outcry from local residents has been significant. Tri-Valley CAREs has collected nearly 1,500 petitions opposing the bio-lab. There have been letters to the editor opposing it. Working Assets Long Distance asked its CA customers if they would be willing to pay a small fee to send letter-grams telling DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to stop the bio-lab. More than 3,000 customers responded yes! Other Working Assets customers made phone calls. Also, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a colleague organization in Santa Barbara, sponsored an Internet forum that enabled nearly 2,000 people to send their email messages to the Dept. of Homeland Security opposing the bio-lab.

In all, more than 6,500 have registered their opposition to the construction of a bio-war research lab at Site 300. This is an impressive response - and we thank you.

Sadly, however, it isn't enough. We need to keep the opposition going - and growing. Please contact us a.s.a.p. if you can spare any time at all to help push this campaign forward. Your time and energy can help us stop this ill conceived and dangerous plan before it becomes a reality.

The Eloquent Resistance to "Bombplex"

by Loulena Miles and Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Few had understood that the Dept. of Energy (DOE) envisions 2030 as the year when it puts the finishing touches on a fully renovated nuclear weapons complex. But understand everyone did, when DOE officials showed up in Livermore and Tracy on chilly December 12th to hold public hearings on the "scope" of their proposed, new "Bombplex."

The DOE's plan includes a blueprint to revitalize nuclear weapons production similar to what existed during the worst years of the Cold War. "Complex 2030," or "Bombplex" as we and other environmentalists call it, envisions the manufacture of hundreds of new plutonium bomb cores and 125 new nuclear weapons per year. These new nukes will come courtesy of the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates this endeavor will cost at least $150 billion. Tri-Valley CAREs believes the cost could stretch to twice that amount. The true cost of "Complex 2030" goes beyond money, however, and includes the weakening of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, across the U.S., a new generation of workers made ill by on the job exposures. The "Bombplex" also means new contamination of our air, soil and water in communities near these sites, including Livermore Lab.

Here is the good news. DOE was not expecting large crowds. In Livermore, more than a hundred assembled over the course of the day to challenge the "Bombplex" with heartfelt as well as technical arguments as to why building new nukes was "insane", "reprehensible" and "illegal." In Tracy another two dozen were present.

People were eloquent. Truth, grace and beauty were felt in the Northern California hearing rooms as person after person stepped to the podium to speak out, each in their own voice, against these destructive plans. Several speakers were adolescents of about 11 years. They spoke of the positive future they longed to see instead of nuclear bombs. Other speakers were at the omega of their lives and brought with them the wisdom of many years. Some asked why a proposal for new nukes was even being considered. Many offered alternative visions for the future that included transforming Livermore Lab into a research center for non-polluting, renewable energy technologies and "green" science.

Too, Livermore and Tracy were not the only hearing locations where sizable crowds gathered. There was a united response of concerned citizens across the country - in Tennessee, New Mexico, South Carolina and in 12 hearings in all that stretched from coast to coast.

The purpose of the hearings was "scoping." Next, the DOE will produce a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Once the Draft is released (which is scheduled to happen this summer), the DOE is required by law to hold more public hearings before a Final plan is issued.

Tri-Valley CAREs will continue to challenge the DOE's "Bombplex." We will look for it when the DOE budget request is released in Feb. - stay tuned for next month's Citizen's Watch to see how much money DOE wants for new bombs. And, of course, we will alert you when there is a new round of hearings. Together, we can defeat the "Bombplex." We have to - our world depends on it.

To read hearing transcripts, go to: To get Tri-Valley CAREs' RRW report, "A Slippery Slope to New Nuclear Weapons," and other info, go to

Print Bites: All the News That Fits to Print

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

- Bigger Bomb Blasts. The San Joaquin County Air Pollution Control District has given Livermore Lab a permit that allows a whopping 8-fold increase in the explosive bomb tests at Site 300. The permit was granted without consideration of the radioactive materials that may be used in the blasts or the impact the blasts could have on endangered species or nearby homes. Bob Sarvey, a long-time Tri-Valley CAREs member, appealed the permit. Our Staff Attorney, Loulena Miles, will argue that the permit was issued prematurely and without required public input. The hearing will take place at 10 AM on Feb. 7 at the air district's offices, 4800 Enterprise Way in Modesto. If you'd like to attend, call us for more info and carpool ideas.

- Doomsday Clock Reset. In a world where there are few popular icons to symbolize the seriousness of the nuclear threat, the Doomsday Clock has served as a reminder since 1947 of how close the world stands to its own demise. On Jan. 18, the Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who maintain the clock, moved it from seven minutes to midnight to five minutes to midnight. In a twist, the Board chose to include global climate change in its countdown to the end of the human race. Sir Martin Rees, explained: "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity, but climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilization as we know it." - In With the New. The 2007 Congress has new faces and a new majority. Here are three (of many). Rep. George Miller, respected senior statesman of the Bay Area delegation, has been named as Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Our Livermore Rep., Ellen Tauscher, has risen to Chair the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. And, replacing Richard Pombo in Pleasanton/Tracy is newly-elected Rep. Jerry McNerney, a renewable energy expert. We congratulate and welcome the new Congress - and challenge it to create real change for peace, justice and the environment.

- Out With the Old. Linton Brooks, head of the Dept. of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, was fired last month. The stated reason Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman asked for his resignation was Brooks' mishandling of ongoing security deficiencies at Los Alamos Lab, though similar problems exist at Livermore Lab and other sites in the nuclear weapons complex. We note that Brooks promoted the nuclear bunker buster until Congress pulled the plug on its funding - and then jumped on the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" bandwagon. It's not likely that Bush will choose a disarmament advocate to replace Brooks, but we do hope for someone who will rein in and not promote every new nuclear weapon pushed by the labs.

Citizen's Alerts

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

Wednesday, February 7

Workshop on Cleanup of Radioactive and Toxic Pollution at Site 300
6 PM, Tracy Community Center
300 East 10th Street, Tracy
(925) 443-7148 for details

The morning permit appeal hearing (see Print Bites on page 4) is about future pollution at Site 300. This Superfund workshop, held the evening of the same day, is about contamination already in Site 300's soil and groundwater. The workshop is hosted by Livermore Lab. Tri-Valley CAREs will have a table and technical experts for you to speak with about the Lab's draft cleanup plan and ways it needs to be strengthened. We will also have a letter you can sign asking for improvements. Join us.

Thursday, February 8

Sick Workers Support Group
10 AM, Livermore Library
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

The sick worker support group is for Livermore Lab, Sandia and other DOE workers made ill by the job exposure to toxic and radioactive materials-and for their families. The meeting will focus on the upcoming audit of Livermore Lab's "site profile," which is a document the government uses to determine the likelihood that workers were exposed. The Livermore "site profile" is woefully incomplete. How to address this problem will be discussed. You are invited to attend.

Thursday, February 15

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

Come and find the nuclear weapons pork in the DOE budget request, which goes to Congress on Feb 5. Get the latest on our "green bid." Discuss our 2007 strategies to win on nuclear weapons and waste issues. Your participation is crucial to our success.

Justice for Sick Workers?: The Program Still Has a Long Way to Go

by Loulena Miles
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

In the fall of 1999, for the first time in history, the Dept. of Energy admitted that it had placed its workers in harm's way without their knowledge, consent or adequate protections.

In Oct. 2000, the U.S. Congress -- on a bipartisan basis -- enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) to compensate these workers. The law covers employees at 350 facilities in 42 states.

The law states that: "Since the inception of the nuclear weapons program ... a large number of nuclear weapons workers at sites of the Department of Energy and at sites of vendors who supplied the Cold War effort were put at risk without their knowledge and consent for reasons that, documents reveal, were driven by fears of adverse publicity, liability, and employee demands for hazardous duty pay..."

Since the passage of this law, its execution has been mired in scandal and poor management.

Not only was part of the program shifted from the Dept. of Energy to the Dept. of Labor so that it would be more independently administered, but evidence has surfaced that the Bush Administration Labor Dept. tried to cut program costs by orchestrating a behind-the-scenes deal with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), including by giving extra oversight authority and what amounts essentially to "veto" power to the White House in some instances.

Former Congressman Hostettler (R-IN) made this point at an oversight hearing in March of 2006, "This plan to override science to meet OMB's budget priorities is inappropriate and speaks to an institutional mind set at odds with congressional intent. It does a disservice to these Cold War veterans. Unless we root out this problem, it will undermine Government credibility with claimants and the public." The House Judiciary Committee investigating the problems plaguing this program has held five hearings.

Meanwhile sick workers in California continue to struggle with illnesses, often clearly correlated with their on the job exposures, but receive no compensation.

Since the inception of the compensation program, a total of 2,093 Livermore Lab claims have been submitted. Of those claims, only 157 or roughly 7% have received compensation.

Many workers receive letters telling them that they don't qualify for compensation. In several cases, former Livermore Lab employees were told that their illnesses were 49% likely to be related to workplace exposure rather than the 51% required to be eligible for compensation.

Malcolm Nelson was just sworn in as the new Ombudsman for the EEOICPA program. His job is to help answer questions and disputes about the program. If you are a sick Dept. of Energy worker, former worker, contractor or family member, you can contact him toll-free at 1-877-OMBUDME.

There is also an audit team coming to Livermore in late February or March to learn from sick workers and former workers about Livermore Lab's history. This historical document is called a "site profile." The auditors will also evaluate the accuracy of the Labor Department's models.

Tri-Valley CAREs has already submitted comments pointing out some of the flaws in the Livermore Lab's draft site profile. To find out more, come to the Sick Worker Support Group meting at 10 AM on Feb. 8 at the Livermore Library, 1188 So. Livermore Ave..

Workers and former workers wishing to provide input into this process can also contact the Tri-Valley CAREs office at (925) 443-7148.

Busywork for Nuclear Scientists

New York Times Editorial
Published: January 15, 2007

After reading this excellent editorial opposing the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" Program, please send a copy of it to your members of Congress along with a short note from you.

The Bush administration is eager to start work on a new nuclear warhead with all sorts of admirable qualities: sturdy, reliable and secure from terrorists. To sweeten the deal, officials say that if they can replace the current arsenal with Reliable Replacement Warheads (what could sound more comforting?), they probably won t have to keep so many extra warheads to hedge against technical failure. If you're still not sold, the warhead comes with something of a guarantee -- that scientists can build the new bombs without ever testing them.

Let the buyer beware. While the program has gotten very little attention here, it is a public-relations disaster in the making overseas. Suspicions that the United States is actually trying to build up its nuclear capabilities are undercutting Washington's arguments for restraining the nuclear appetites of Iran and North Korea.

Then there's the tens of billions it is likely to cost. And the most important question: Nearly two decades after the country stopped building nuclear weapons, does it really need a new one? The answer, emphatically, is no. This is a make-work program championed by the weapons laboratories and belatedly by the Pentagon, which hasn't been able to get Congress to pay for its other nuclear fantasies.

The Rumsfeld team's first choice was for a nuclear "bunker buster" to go after deeply buried targets. The Pentagon got concerned about "aging" warheads only after it was clear that even the Republican-led Congress, or at least one intrepid House subcommittee chairman, considered the bunker buster too Strangelovian to finance.

One crucial argument for the new program took a major hit in November when the Jason -- a prestigious panel of scientists that advises the government on weapons -- reported that most of the plutonium triggers in the current arsenal can be expected to last for 100 years. Since the oldest weapons are less than 50 years old, supporters of the new warhead have fallen back on warnings that other bomb components are also aging, and that the nuclear labs need the work to attract and train the best scientists. But the labs are already spending billions on studying and preserving the current arsenal.

Then there's that guarantee that there will be no need for testing -- one of the few arms-control taboos President Bush hasn't broken yet. While experts debate whether the labs can really build a weapon without testing it, the more important question is whether any president would stake America's security on an untested arsenal.

America would be much safer if the president focused on reducing the number of old nuclear weapons still deployed by the United States and the other nuclear powers. The new Congress should stop this program before any more dollars are wasted, or more damage is done to America's credibility.

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