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June, 2008 Citizens Watch Newsletter

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Lab Fails Drill, Allows Mock Terrorists to Obtain Plutonium

by Rob Schwartz from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 2008 newsletter, Citizens' Watch

During a recent security test at Livermore Lab, a mock terrorist team breached security and penetrated the plutonium facility (Building 332), located in the so-called "Superblock." This is the most heavily guarded quadrant within the Livermore Lab's one square mile perimeter.

The storage limit for plutonium in the "Superblock" is 3,000 pounds. It is estimated that at least 2,000 pounds of plutonium and weapons-grade uranium are presently stored there, a quantity sufficient to build hundreds of nuclear bombs. Experts have called the failure to secure nuclear materials the most dangerous ever identified at Livermore Lab.

"The scope of these security failures is truly shocking," said Marylia Kelley, the Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs who lives near Livermore Lab. "The security shortcomings underscore the need to remove all weapons usable quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium from Livermore Lab. The facts show that these materials cannot be made safe in this highly populated area."

Kelley continued, "Not only is Livermore Lab at risk from a ground-based terrorist attack, it is also situated less than 200 feet from an earthquake fault and sits beneath the flight paths of several airports, including the Oakland International Airport. Whether by accident or design, there could be a catastrophic release of nuclear materials from the Livermore Lab on any given day."

Tri-Valley CAREs believes the plutonium and highly enriched uranium at Livermore Lab could be safely packaged and removed by 2010 or earlier. Under pressure from Tri-Valley CAREs and allied organizations, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans to move Livermore Lab's plutonium by the end of 2012. "That's 4 years away," Kelley observed.

While DOE and Livermore Lab are attempting to "spin" the information and keep much of the security failure a secret, some facts are known. The mock attack occurred this spring, and was conducted by DOE's Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS). As part of the force-on-force test, a tactical security team played the role of an attacking force in order to see how Livermore Lab's protective force would respond. The drill included the use of simulated weapons, and some security forces defending Livermore Lab were "killed" while others "survived." The attackers deployed all-terrain vehicles and torches to penetrate the "Superblock."

The mock terrorist team's objective was to gain entry into Livermore Lab's "Superblock" and then hold its ground long enough to construct a "dirty bomb" that could be detonated on-site. As noted, all reports are that they succeeded. Given sufficient time and expertise, an attack team could theoretically also choose to build a crude nuclear weapon possessing the destructive power of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another option would be for the attackers to escape from Livermore Lab with nuclear material for use at a later time and place.

The simulation drill was part of a seven-week audit of the security programs at Livermore Lab. The DOE HSS identified four areas as requiring corrective actions, while four others were rated as effective. DOE is currently evaluating the corrective measures installed by Livermore Lab, and a final inspection report is expected shortly. Tri-Valley CAREs has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all unclassified documents concerning the security assessment.

We already know, though, that one area requiring corrective action involves Livermore Lab's Gatling gun, which could not be fired during the simulated attack because the hydraulic system used the raise the gun into firing position failed.

This controversial weapon is capable of firing up to 4,000 highvelocity rounds per minute and has a lethal range of one mile or more. Installation of Gatling guns at Livermore Lab has caused alarm among local residents because they add the risk of gunshot to the risks of contamination. Many have noted that Livermore Lab is in an urbanized environment, with homes, apartments, schools, community swimming pools, a senior center, athletic fields, shops, and more nearby.

Another area cited as requiring corrective action concerned Livermore Lab's Special Response Team (SRT). As it turns out,the members of the SRT had not trained together as a "team" for years, whichgoes against "best practices".

Although DOE officials have attempted to downplay the significance of the security failures by claiming that the exercise was not realistic, the conditions actually seemed to favor the Lab's protective forceand not the mock attackers. For instance, Livermore Lab's security program was given extensive advance notice of the attack, which eliminated the element of surprise.

Also, the attack was conducted at night, when few of the Lab's thousands of employees are present. Consequently, the simulated drill did not approximatereal conditions, during which, for example, Livermore Lab employees couldbe taken hostage. Moreover, the presence of thousands of employees wouldgreatly complicate defensive measures, as the Lab's protective force would attempt to avoid unnecessary casualties.

The "Superblock" at Livermore Lab contains the plutonium facility (Building332), additional vaults, and the tritium facility (Building 331). It is surrounded by multi-story steel-mesh fencing, electronic security gear, armed guards andcables to prevent helicopter landings.

Because the "Superblock" is the mostsecure area at Livermore Lab, the security failures at that location have elevatedconcerns about the safety of other materials at Livermore Lab, including deadlybiological agents and toxins that areslated to be held in the Lab's Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility.

"If Livermore Lab's security forcesweren't able to protect the 'Superblock,' one wonders how they would respondto a terrorist attack on the BSL-3, which also houses lethal material of specialinterest to would-be terrorists," observed Robert Schwartz, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney.

25 Top Successes to Celebrate 25 Years of Making Change

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 2008 newsletter, Citizens' Watch

Thanks to you, and all of our members and friends, Tri- Valley CAREs celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Wemade it. We have reached the quarter century mark, together, promoting peace, justice and a healthy environment. Wow.

Whether you have been a part of the group since 1983, or have come on board recently, thank you for the support you have given to bring us to this day. We have been guided by a belief that those who are affected by a facility have a right of be part of the decision-making process. The nuclear weapons activities at Livermore Lab affect us all. Working together, we have made a difference ? locally, nationally and globally.

On the happy occasion of our 25th anniversary, we invite you to contemplate 25 of our successes through the years:

  1. We stopped the Department of Energy (DOE) and Livermore Lab from building a massive toxic and radioactive waste incinerator. Further, we led the successful campaign to shut down Livermore Lab's existing incinerator.
  2. We prevented Livermore Lab from using lasers to produce weapons grade plutonium in an "engineering demonstration system" the Lab had built for this purpose. Then, we worked to stop a similar Livermore Lab scheme employing lasers to enrich uranium.
  3. We won improvements in Livermore Lab's program toclean up soil and groundwater contaminated by nuclear weapons research. Recently, we stopped a DOE plan to send 80 million gallons of contaminated groundwater from Livermore Lab into the San Francisco Bay, untreated.
  4. We were the first group in the western U.S. to win an EPA grant to monitor the Superfund cleanup at Livermore Lab. Then, we became the first community-based group in the country to win a recognition award from EPA for our work.
  5. We helped initiate a process to involve the community in deciding what to do about the plutonium-contaminated sludge from Livermore Lab that was given to residents for use in their lawns and gardens. We worked with state and county health agencies to establish a plutonium sludge task force.
  6. We alerted the community to the elevated levels of plutonium discovered in three Livermore parks. Our advocacy succeeded in getting additional soil tests at Big Trees Park, west of Livermore Lab. We continue to press for cleanup.
  7. We played a key role in convincing Congress to pass a compensation program for DOE workers made ill by on thejob exposure to radiation and toxic contaminants. Recently, we helped win special status for sick Livermore Lab workers being denied compensation because their records were missing. Our efforts on behalf of sick workers continue.
  8. We compelled declassification of plans to use plutonium in experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which is still under construction at Livermore Lab. The planned use of fissile materials, together with fusion (thermonuclear) fuel, belies the Lab's claim that NIF is benign.
  9. We revealed the truth about plans to use the NIF and other lab-based technologies to continue nuclear weapons design, contrary to U.S. treaty obligations. Our research has led to increased public awareness of the dangers of the so- called "Stockpile Stewardship" program.
  10. We released in-depth reports on the Bush Administration's Nuclear Posture Review, the DOE nuclear weapons budget ? and numerous other topics. Our research has been cited in congressional debates and in other forums.
  11. We brought DOE nuclear weapons development activities to the attention of the Congress, including research and development at Livermore on bunker-busting nuclear weapons being developed for use in the open-ended "War on Terror." We provided research that was used by Congressional committees to cut all funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) and "advanced concepts" teams working on mini-nukes and other weapons projects.
  12. We followed the RNEP victory by countering the next new nuke scheme, the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). We helped win funding cuts for RRW two years in a row. Our work will continue until we end the program.
  13. We increased community knowledge about the hazards posed by plutonium at Livermore Lab, gathering more than 13,000 signatures on our petition. We continue to press for removal of all of the weapons usable plutonium from the Lab due to security and environmental problems, and weadvocate that it never be used in weapons experiments again. Our efforts have helped publicize security deficiencies at the Lab, including failures to secure plutonium in the 2008 mock terrorist drill.
  14. We submitted an innovative proposal to manage Livermore Lab as a "Green Lab," after the Lab's management contract was put up for bid. Our proposal provided a vision for the future of the Lab in a nuclear-free world. Although our bid was not chosen, we brought important local and national attention to this issue and changed the terms of the debate.
  15. We raised awareness about DOE's Complex Transformation (Bombplex) plan to revitalize the nuclear weapons complex across the country, including at Livermore Lab. We prepared in-depth analyses of the plan and submitted alternatives. DOE has received more than 100,000 comments opposing the Bombplex. We will continue to work with allies to stop this DOE plan - including by litigation, if necessary.
  16. Each year we bring community members to Washington, DC to meet with Congress and the Administration. We offer first-hand experiences and authentic voices from our communities to the debate over nuclear weapons and waste.
  17. We participated at the UN in the Review & Extension Conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and in numerous NPT meetings since. Our research on U.S. nuclear weapons has helped other countries in their efforts to hold the U.S. accountable to its disarmament obligations under the NPT.
  18. We sued the government a dozen times ? and have not lost a case in our twenty-five years. Examples include legal victories to force public disclosure of Livermore Lab's nuclear weapons activities and to stop DOE from shipping plutonium from its Rocky Flats plant in Colorado to Livermore Lab.
  19. We filed a lawsuit to compel DOE to hold public hearings and conduct program-wide and site-specific environmental analyses before building and operating advanced biowarfare agent research facilities at Livermore and Los Alamos Labs. Our lawsuit succeeded in getting DOE to consider the environmental impacts of a terrorist attack at these facilities. Further, at Los Alamos Lab, the DOE agreed to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In 2008, we filed freshlitigation to stop operation of the Livermore Lab bio-warfareresearch facility without an EIS.
  20. We defeated a bio-warfare agent research proposal for Livermore Lab's Site 300. Following a year of communityoutreach, meetings with elected officials, neighborhood "houseparties," door-to-door petitioning, and other escalating opposition, the Department of Homeland Security determined thatthere is no "community acceptance" here for this facility.
  21. We brought much-needed attention to an anthrax release caused by Livermore Lab in the fall of 2005. Our advocacy forced the Lab to come clean with details surrounding the release. We also filed Freedom of Information Act requests concerning the anthrax release and obtained additional information about this unfortunate occurrence, which resulted in workers being placed on the antibiotic Cipro due to exposure risks.
  22. We organize vigils and demonstrations at the gates of Livermore Lab. Working with allied groups throughout the Bay Area, we have mobilized hundreds of peace advocates - and sometimes thousands - to say "NO" to nuclear weapons and "YES" to nonviolent solutions. This August 9 at 11 AM, we again invite you to Livermore to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and rededicate our efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons and war.
  23. We promote involvement by the "next generation" of youth in nuclear and related issues. We joined with othercommunity and student organizations to establish the statewide "Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California" to`call attention to the University's involvement in nuclear weapons research.
  24. We publish a monthly newsletter that, for two decades now, has kept our members and the community informedabout activities at Livermore Lab and throughout the DOE nuclear weapons complex. Our mailing list has grown from450 to 5,600 families. We also provide a website that includesfact sheets, reports, and other important materials.
  25. We network and undertake coalition building regionally, nationally and internationally. We are promoting realsolutions and taking the concrete steps necessary to achieve a nuclear-free 21st Century.

These 25 successes provide a snapshot of our work together. Each of our successes has been a collaborative endeavor. Our members and friends continue to make it all possible.

Alerts 4 You

from Tri-Valley CAREs' June, 2008 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, July 10
Tri-Valley CAREs mailing party
2 sessions: 4 - 6 PM & 7 - 9 PM
2582 Old First St., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details

Can you volunteer for two hours with Tri-Valley CAREs? Come and help us get the July edition of Citizen's Watch ready for the Post Office.

Thursday, July 17
Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 - 9 PM, Livermore Library
1188 South Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Join us. There is a lot going on. At our July meeting, we will discuss the August peace action at Livermore Lab, the latest on the Lab's security fiasco (and what we can do), the Lab's new hazardous waste permit, our bio-warfare litigation, and much more. Get the latest information, help plan next steps and meet new and old friends ? including 2 new staff members. Don't miss this meeting.

Thursday, July 17
Public Hearing on Hazardous Waste and Livermore Lab Site 300 Permit
6:30 PM until all comments are heard,
Tracy Sports Complex
955 Crossroads Drive, Tracy
(510) 540-3946 / (925) 443-7148

This is a public hearing conducted by the state Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). At issue is whether and under what conditions DTSC should renew the Livermore Lab Site 300's hazardous waste treatment and storage permit. The draft permit contains an increase in the allowable amount of liquid hazardous waste storage at Site 300 ? from 3,300 gallons to 5,500 gallons. The draft permit also covers Site 300's explosive storage facility and its explosive waste treatment facility and burn pan.Core issues include open detonation and burn of toxic wastes at Site 300 in Tracy. Currently, the DTSC has issued a draft Negative Declaration for the permit, which means the state is poised to issue a final permit without any additional mitigation to protect public health and the environment. Tri-Valley CAREs will raise a number of objections and make recommendations to protect the public.

This hearing is scheduled for the same evening as Tri-Valley CAREs' July meeting( see above). Therefore, we will have some of our staff at the public hearing in Tracy and some at the TVC meeting in Livermore. We will also have "sign on" public comments on the draft permit available at both meetings.

Friday, July 18
Local Vigil and Sign Holding
Show your opposition to war
5:30 - 6:30 PM, downtown Livermore
Fountains at First St. and Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Demonstrate the power of local opposition to the war in Iraq and impending war on Iran. Participate in Livermore's monthly anti-war vigil, which is part of the national "Iraq Moratorium." Bring a sign, or come and make one there. We will have supplies as well as ready- made signs.

Coming - Circle The Dates

Saturday, August 9
Tri-Valley CAREs and allied groups are planning a commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the gates of the Livermore Lab on August 9 at 11 AM. We are planning to set up the "nuclear maze." The former Mayor of Hiroshima, Mr. Hiraoka, will be with us.

(Volunteers are urgently needed.)

Saturday, August 16
Tri-Valley CAREs members, supporters, volunteers, staff and board meet together each summer to plan the group's strategies for the coming year. Our strength comes from the active participation of all sectors of our organization. So, if you see yourself reflected in any of the five categories, we urge you to join us for this day-long retreat, to be held in Livermore. RSVP today. You will receive "how to" materials on strategic planning along with details of this year's retreat. Make a difference with TVC!

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