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Feb 25, 2010


Marylia Kelley

To add another dimension to the conversation...

Here is a quote from the NNSA press release: the open campus will "promote key LLNL programs such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF)."

The NIF is intended and funded as a nuclear weapons design tool. In 2005, NNSA made a decision to add plutonium and other fissile materials to NIF experiments, along with fusion fuel involving a 50/50 mix of deuterium and tritium.

Moreover, the NNSA budget request states that only 15% of NIF experiments will be available for other (non-NNSA) users. Most NIF experiments will be classified.

In sum, NIF is neither "open" nor "green."

Any open campus plan that centers on NIF and similar projects is likely to amount to nothing more than a PR "greenwashing" of the Lab's nuclear weapons activities, which presently consume over 85% of LLNL's annual budget from NNSA.

On the other hand, if the government were serious about making Livermore Lab a true hub for unclassified, world-class civilian science initiatives, that would newsworthy.

One can hope this will become a baby step in that direction, but one would be wise to watch carefully for "greenwashing" as the initiative unfolds.


From an NNSA Press Release of September 30, 2009

NNSA Ships Additional Special Nuclear Material from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as Part of Deinventory Project

With Latest Shipment, Two- thirds of Livermore’s Special Nuclear Material Has Been Removed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today [September 30, 2009] announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has removed about two- thirds of its special nuclear material requiring the highest level of security protection.

LLNL has completed shipments to five different receiver sites, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Nevada Test Site, the Savannah River Site, Y-12 Security Complex, and the Idaho National Laboratory, since the de-inventory project was initiated in October 2006. These shipments were completed in full compliance with existing safety and environmental laws and procedures. All federal and receiver site requirements were met for these shipments.

“The removal of two thirds of LLNL’s nuclear material demonstrates real progress and is the result of some very hard work,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D’Agostino. “NNSA continues to make tremendous strides in transforming a Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century Nuclear Security Enterprise that is smaller, safer, and more efficient. Staying on schedule in meeting our commitment to remove all special nuclear material from Livermore is a major part of that effort.”

The move is part of NNSA’s efforts to consolidate special nuclear material at five sites by 2012, with significantly reduced square footage at those sites by 2017. This will further improve security and reduce security costs and is part of NNSA’s overall effort to transform the Cold War era nuclear weapons enterprise into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.

The original date to remove all high-security material from LLNL, based on equipment capability and capacity, was 2014. NNSA has developed a timeline to remove this material as early as possible, accelerating the target completion date to 2012.

Give me a break

These two topics (presence of nuclear material and the Open Campus) are completely unrelated and have no bearing on one another. The Open Campus will be at the edge of the existing labs. It would be as if you were standing on the sidewalk at the entrance to the lab which anyone can do today.

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