Reading Room

For immediate release: December 11, 2006

Local Residents, Public Interest Organizations, Scientists, Workers Decry Plans for New U.S. Nuclear Weapons "Bombplex"

Call Energy Dept. Plan Dangerous and Unnecessary

for more information, contact:
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Loulena Miles, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

A broad range of Livermore Lab neighbors, Lab scientists, sick workers, and Northern California peace and environmental advocates oppose the Dept. of Energy's (DOE) plan to build new bomb plants. They will speak at public hearings on December 12, 2006. The DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration is holding hearings on that day in Livermore and Tracy (see hearing locations and news conference details at bottom of page 2).

These "scoping" hearings follow DOE's publication of a "Notice of Intent" to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for "Complex 2030." The DOE's plans include a massive reorganization of the nuclear weapons complex, including new bomb plants to produce new nuclear weapons. These activities will affect future operations at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory main site in Livermore and its Site 300 high explosives testing range in Tracy. The driving force for Complex 2030 is the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead program to re-design every nuclear weapon in the enduring U.S. arsenal and build 125 new nukes each year.

Loulena Miles, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney expressed her concern: "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 2030 plan will devastate U.S. non-proliferation goals and the international treaty that underlies them."

'"Do as I say, not as I do' is not an effective foreign policy," agreed Marylia Kelley, the group's Executive Director who lives down the street from Livermore Lab. "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."

Kelley continued, "A curatorship approach would accomplish the DOE's major stated goals for Complex 2030. Curatorship would ensure the reliability of the arsenal (consisting of previously fully-tested designs), no return to full-scale testing, increased dismantlement, removal of dangerous and vulnerable plutonium and highly enriched uranium from Livermore Lab, and increased efficiency throughout the weapons complex. Moreover, curatorship would accomplish these ends better than Complex 2030 will -- and do so without building new bombs."

"Complex 2030 offers us dangerous nuclear weapons development, testing and production in the guise of consolidation," said Mary Perner, Tri-Valley CAREs' Community Organizer. "We will speak out at the public hearing to illuminate the hidden truths behind DOE's deceptive language."

Dr. Ray Kidder, a retired physicist and senior scientist at Livermore Lab whose career spanned 6 decades of weapons development, explained that the DOE has no need to rebuild and replace the nuclear arsenal by 2030. "The JASONs recently-released summary of the government's plutonium bomb core aging studies shows that the 'pits' in the weapons presently in the U.S. arsenal will last for at least 100 years."

According to Kidder, "The DOE is ignoring its own data in order to promote the Reliable Replacement Warhead program and Complex 2030. Not only will the plutonium pits not wear out, but the DOE can remanufacture other parts for the arsenal that do have a more limited lifetime. By pretending otherwise, DOE does a disservice to the American people."

Kidder continued: "For example, re-designing the W76, as is currently underway, and rebuilding it under the RRW program could mean thousands of new warheads for that one weapon type alone. This is a waste of money as well as a unnecessarily proliferation-provocative behavior." Dr. Kidder will be at the Livermore hearing.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the price tag for Complex 2030 will be $150 billion, and it may go much higher. "If funded, the RRW program and Complex 2030 will provide a Cold War steroid shot in the arm for nukes that could jump start a new arms race," charged Rebecca Griffin of Peace Action West, one of the groups that will be represented at the public hearings.

"We who live next to DOE weapons sites like Livermore Lab are still experiencing the health and environmental impacts of the first arms race," said Bob Sarvey, a Tracy business owner who lives near the Lab's Site 300 high explosives testing range 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."

Sarvey further pointed out that Livermore Lab plans to increase its high-explosive testing at Site 300 eight-fold, while also planning a massive, 500,000 square-foot bio-warfare agent research facility. "Complex 2030 is backing away from DOE's 2007 budget request to Congress, which discussed phasing out all high-explosive tests at Site 300. Now, suddenly, the DOE is increasing the explosive limits on these tests, which will be conducted in the open air in a rapidly growing suburban community. The DOE is going hell-bent in the wrong direction."

Hearing speakers like Beverly King of Livermore will also highlight DOE's Complex 2030 plan to move the plutonium from Livermore Lab around the country twice, instead of moving it just one time to a safe and remote location. "The DOE plan is crazy," stated King. "First, the agency plans to have plutonium at Livermore Lab until 2014, when it should all be removed much sooner. Then, the DOE plans to move Livermore's plutonium first to New Mexico and then a second time to an as yet unnamed location. Instead, the DOE should undertake an immediate study to determine the most secure location -- and move it. The plutonium presently at Livermore Lab should not be transported here and there on crowded freeways across the U.S. in order to be used in new bomb experiments."

Kelley summed up, "According to the 'Notice of Intent,' the DOE is basing its plans for a new 'bombplex' on the Bush Administration's nuclear posture review (NPR). The NPR is a policy document and not a U.S. law. The next administration can issue a new NPR. On the other hand, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was signed by the U.S. and entered into force in 1970, is an international treaty that, along with the U.S. Constitution itself, is the Supreme Law of the Land. The DOE should go back to the drawing board and come up with a Complex 2030 that fully implements the NPT, not the NPR. Our country's children, who will inherit the results of our decisions today, deserve no less."

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Tri-Valley CAREs and colleagues will offer press briefings at 11:30 AM and 6:30 PM at the Livermore public hearing on Complex 2030. The Livermore hearing will be held at the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue. Tri-Valley CAREs will also offer a press briefing at 6:30 PM at the Tracy public hearing. The Tracy hearing will be held at the Tracy Community Center, 950 East Street. News conference participants will include Lab scientists, nuclear policy analysts, community leaders, peace activists, environmentalists, and neighbors of the Livermore Lab's main site and Site 300.

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