Reading Room

All Aboard: “Toxic Waste Tours” of Classified Weapons Labs

Tri-Valley CAREs is organizing community tours this fall inside the classified fence lines of the Livermore Lab Main Site in Livermore and its Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy. These tours will visit areas where toxic and radioactive contaminants have been released. The pollution is undergoing cleanup pursuant to the federal “Superfund” law.

Community members will receive briefings from Dept. of Energy, Livermore Lab and Tri-Valley CAREs staff on cleanup techniques, timelines and more. Tri-Valley CAREs is offering seats on a “first come-first served” basis.

The Site 300 tour will be held on Wed., Nov. 30 from 9am to 12:30pm. Site 300 was established to conduct open-air bomb tests with toxic and radioactive materials. Current operations allow for contained tests and open-air detonations; high explosives R&D, machining and manufacturing; and waste burning and storage.

We are in discussion with the Lab about precisely which areas we will visit at Site 300, but we are planning to go to one of the open-air “firing tables” where high explosives and uranium-238 were detonated; unlined dumpsites where the groundwater aquifer has mixed directly with toxic and radioactive wastes resulting in a 2-mile long contaminant plume; a corrective action management unit for PCB-contaminated soil; and, the off-site contaminant plume under Corral Hollow Road.

The Main Site Superfund tour will be held on Thurs., Dec. 1 from 9am to 12:30pm. The Main Site contains most of the Lab’s principal nuclear weapons development facilities, including the plutonium facility and vaults, hardened engineering test building, tritium facility, radiography facility, high explosives application facility, National Ignition Facility, and others.

We have requested to visit an aquifer treatment facility to which contaminated off-site groundwater is brought via a pipeline; one of the areas with radioactive hydrogen (tritium) pollution in the groundwater aquifer; a waste drum storage yard; and several “pilot project” cleanup areas, including one where injection studies with naturally-occurring “bugs” to break down volatile organic compounds (industrial solvents) is scheduled to begin full operation.

For either tour, participants must call or email us and provide their badging information on or before Thursday, November 17. However, do not wait until the last minute. If you are interested in attending one of these unique tours, please reserve your space today. Often when we arrange these tours there are more requests than there are spaces available.

Livermore Lab is a classified nuclear weapons facility and you must get a badge to go on either tour. Email or call us at 925-443-7148 for details. The required data for badging includes: Your full name, valid drivers license or passport number, date and place of birth, social security number and current address and phone.