Reading Room

For immediate release: March 17, 2008

Residents, Peace, Religious, Environmental Organizations Protest Plans for New U.S. Nuclear Weapons "Bombplex"

for more information, contact:
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148, cell (925) 255-3589,
Robert Schwartz, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs,
and Jedidjah de Vries, Outreach Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

A broad range of Livermore Lab neighbors and Northern California peace, religious, science and environmental advocates oppose the Dept. of Energy's (DOE) plan to build new bomb plants. They will speak at public hearings on March 18 and March 19. The DOE National Nuclear Security Administration is holding hearings in Tracy, CA near the Livermore Lab Site 300 and in Livermore near the Livermore Lab main site (see hearing locations & news briefing details at bottom of page 2).

The public hearings follow the release by the Department of its draft "Complex Transformation" Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. The DOE plan involves a massive reorganization of the nuclear weapons complex, including new bomb plants to produce new nuclear weapons. Under DOE's "preferred alternative," at least $150 billion tax-payer dollars will be spent over the next two decades to rebuild 26 million square feet of nuclear weapons design, testing and production plants across the nation. "The DOE is attempting to sell the American people a bill of goods by referring to this plan as a 'consolidation' when it is really a 'revitalization' of the nuclear weapons complex," remarked Marylia Kelley, the Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and a close neighbor of Livermore Lab.

The driving force for "Complex Transformation" is the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead program to re-design every nuclear weapon in the enduring U.S. arsenal. The first new RRW nuclear weapon is being designed at Livermore Lab. Congress cut funds for the RRW last year, but the DOE returned this February 2008 with more than $40 million for continued development of the RRW in its fiscal year 2009 budget request. Robert Schwartz, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, stated, "At a time when the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is in danger of unraveling, it defies reason to revitalize U.S. nuclear weapons development and production. The DOE's 'Complex Transformation' plan will devastate U.S. non-proliferation goals and the international treaty that underlies them."

Kelley added, "'Do as I say, not as I do' is not an effective foreign policy. Instead of building new nuclear weapons, Tri-Valley CAREs supports a 'curatorship' approach, which would fully maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile as it awaits dismantlement under the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The 'curatorship' approach would foreswear designing new nuclear weapons and make the U.S. and the world a safer place."

"The DOE plan amounts to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic while locking the rudder in place and steaming full speed ahead," charged Jedidjah de Vries, Tri-Valley CAREs' Outreach Director. "Should we be arguing about the number and alignment of the chairs, or discussing where the ship is headed? We need a new nuclear policy, not a new 'Bombplex'," de Vries concluded.

The DOE's "Complex Transformation" plan will affect future operations at the Livermore Lab main site in Livermore and its Site 300 high explosives testing range in Tracy. The DOE plan will keep tritium, the radioactive hydrogen of the H-bomb, at Livermore Lab forever. "The risks are too great and the area is too populated to continue conducting tritium research and development at Livermore Lab, said Kelley. Additionally, Tri-Valley CAREs calls on DOE to remove all plutonium and highly enriched uranium from Livermore Lab by 2010. "These dangerous materials should be stored as safely and securely as possible and never used in nuclear weapons experiments again," concluded Kelley.

"We who live next to DOE weapons sites like Livermore Lab are still experiencing the health and environmental impacts of the first arms race," added Bob Sarvey, a Tracy business owner who lives near the Lab's Site 300 high explosives testing range in Tracy on Corral Hollow Road. "We say, 'clean up the existing mess, don't create new ones'. The Livermore Lab main site and Site 300 are already Superfund sites on the EPA's list of most contaminated locations in the nation."

Moreover, Livermore Lab plans to increase its high explosive testing at Site 300 eight-fold and to do so using the DOE "work for others" budget line. "These bomb blasts will pollute our air, land and water just as much whether it is the DOE or another agency, such as the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security, that foots the bill," Sarvey pointed out. "These bomb tests should end, period. And, we will call on the DOE to stop all bomb tests at Site 300, regardless of which agency funds them."

Hearing speakers like Cara Bautista, the Deputy Political Director at Peace Action West, will also discuss that the DOE plan includes building a new plutonium facility and 80 new plutonium pits (bomb cores) every year at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico. "If funded, this proposal gives our nation?s most expensive and dangerous Cold War relic a steroid shot in the arm," Bautista commented.

Jacqueline Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Oakland-based Western States Legal Foundation, highlighted the connections between the DOE's planned "Bombplex" and the 5th anniversary March 19 of the Iraq war. "The U.S. attacked Iraq on the pretext of ending a nuclear weapons program that did not exist," Cabasso commented. "On the fifth anniversary of this illegal war and occupation, the DOE is holding hearings in Livermore on its latest plan to modernize the very real laboratories and factories where the U.S. designs, builds and maintains nuclear weapons. 'Complex Transformation' would allow the government to keep thousands of nuclear weapons for decades to come and to build thousands more should it choose to do so. We've found the weapons of mass destruction!"

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