Energy Department Ignores Public; Announces Plans to Revive Nuclear Weapons Production

October 28th, 2008 - by admin

Tri-Valley CARES – 2008-10-28 00:36:46


(October 23, 2008) — Tri-Valley CAREs decries “wrong direction, wrong policy, and wrong priorities,” points to escalating nuclear risks for SF Bay Area, Central Valley and Nation

LIVERMORE — In a Federal Register notice to be published this Friday, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced its final plan to revitalize and rebuild the nuclear weapons complex, at Livermore Lab in California and other sites across the country.

“The government is trying to sell the American people a bill of goods by referring to this plan as a ‘consolidation’ when it is actually a provocative revitalization of the US nuclear weapons complex,” charged Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and a close neighbor of Livermore Lab.

Under the DOE NNSA’s “preferred alternative” for Complex Transformation, as the agency calls its plan, all eight active locations in the current nuclear weapons complex will remain open indefinitely.

“This stands in marked contrast to the 1990s when the nuclear weapons complex moved from twelve active bomb-making sites down to eight,” remarked Kelley. “Today, the DOE is attempting to move sharply in the wrong direction. Under Complex Transformation, many sites, including Livermore Lab, will get new-construction bomb plants with major new nuclear weapons research, development and production capabilities.”

“The Bush Administration’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, which is yesterday’s discredited nuclear policy not forward looking vision, provides the underpinning for Complex Transformation,” Kelley noted. “A record number of people, more than 100,000 strong, rose in opposition to the plan during the formal public comment period. Today, we are seeing the DOE brush aside the expressed wisdom and wishes of the people, many of whom live downwind and downstream of US nuclear weapons facilities in California and across the country.”

“Complex Transformation will adversely affect communities around the Livermore Lab main site in Livermore and its Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy,” noted Tri-Valley CAREs’ Staff Attorney, Robert Schwartz. “It will mean continuing pollution and potential new dangers.”

Under the final plan, nuclear bomb making quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium will remain in a vulnerable state at Livermore Lab until 2012, risking catastrophic release in the event of a terrorist attack or major earthquake. The present administrative limit for plutonium storage at Livermore Lab’s “Superblock” is 3,080 pounds, enough for about 300 nuclear weapons.

Similarly, Livermore Lab will continue two facilities that test nuclear bomb materials under differing environmental conditions until 2012. Livermore Lab will carry out current and planned new activities with tritium, the radioactive hydrogen of the H-bomb, indefinitely according to the plan.

The final plan elevates Livermore Lab’s role in research and development of the high-explosives component of nuclear weapons, making it the “HE R&D center” for the entire nuclear weapons complex, according to the Federal Register notice. To accomplish this expanded weapons mission, Livermore Lab will construct a new “High Explosives Applications Facility” annex to augment the current HEAF facility at the main site in Livermore. This new bomb plant may be built at the main site or at Site 300, according to the notice.

Further, the final plan may backpedal from even the modest downsizing for Livermore Lab Site 300 suggested in the draft plan. Instead of phasing out bomb blasts at Site 300 over time as the draft suggested, the final plan calls for indefinite continued operation of the Contained Firing Facility at Site 300.

And, it calls for only a vague, undefined “smaller footprint” (possibly referring to the open-air “firing tables” for bomb tests at Site 300) by 2015 rather than a date-certain closure. Further, Site 300 would maintain its “open burn/open detonation” explosives waste facilities, according to the plan.

“This plan puts the air, water, land and communities around Livermore Lab at risk,” said Schwartz. He continued, “Instead of ramping up nuclear weapons activities at Livermore Lab, we need a truly innovative plan that would analyze conversion of Livermore to a ‘green lab’ devoted to global warming research, development of non-polluting, renewable energy technologies, nonproliferation and related national and energy security challenges. Unfortunately, this is not the plan we need.”

In addition to increasing the nuclear weapons mission at Livermore, Complex Transformation clears the way for an increase in plutonium pit (bomb core) production at Los Alamos Lab in NM after 2009 and calls for a new Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 in TN.

“We vigorously object to these dangerous, unnecessary facilities across the country,” commented Kelley. “At a time when the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is in danger of unraveling, it defies reason to boost US nuclear weapons development and production. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is not an effective foreign policy.

“Instead of building new or modified nuclear weapons, Tri-Valley CAREs supports a ‘Curatorship’ approach, which would maintain the existing safety and reliability of US nuclear weapons until such time as they are dismantled pursuant to our obligations under the NPT.”

Kelley summed up, “Complex Transformation is wrong policy, enabling new nuclear weapons programs that run counter to US nonproliferation aims, wrong direction, building unneeded facilities, wrong priorities, costing $150 billion or more and failing to quickly secure the country’s most vulnerable nuclear materials, and wrong timing, putting the “cart” of new bomb-making capabilities before the “horse” of new policy and posture reviews — and a new President.”

Added Schwartz, “Tri-Valley CAREs will oppose the implementation of this fatally flawed and dangerous plan.”

Advance copy of Federal Register notice available
For more information,
• Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148 or

• Robert Schwartz, Staff Attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148