[ RadSafe ] Re: Editorial: No convincing evidence to increase Pu at LLNL

Dimiter Popoff didi at tgi-sci.com
Thu Dec 8 11:02:30 CST 2005

Frankly I do not see the difference it would make to the public
if they store 700 rather than 1400 kg - or am I missing something?
Yet another easy to use attention grabber, I suppose.


Dimiter Popoff               Transgalactic Instruments


>  -------Original Message-------
>  From: John Jacobus <crispy_bird at yahoo.com>
>  Subject: [ RadSafe ] Editorial: No convincing evidence to increase Pu at LLNL
>  Sent: Dec 08 '05 17:59
>  >From Nature 438, 712 (8 December 2005)
>  Enough, already
>  Abstract:No convincing case has been made for
>  increasing the amount of plutonium held at a
>  Californian lab.
>  The US Department of Energy is planning to double the
>  amount of plutonium that can be stored at the Lawrence
>  Livermore National Laboratory in California. Under new
>  rules announced last week, the nuclear-weapons lab can
>  keep up to 1,400 kilograms, or enough for around 300
>  bombs.
>  Not surprisingly, antinuclear activists are up in arms
>  about having so much bomb-grade metal in such a
>  heavily populated area. But researchers who want the
>  US nuclear-weapons laboratories to set a good example
>  for the rest of the world should be equally dismayed
>  at the plan.
>  Since 1992, the United States has maintained a
>  moratorium on the testing and development of new
>  nuclear weapons. There's no real need for this
>  research lab, which accommodates an outstanding
>  civilian research programme next to its
>  weapons-related activity, to be playing with this
>  quantity of plutonium.
>  Livermore is expected to use some of the expanded
>  inventory in nuclear-weapons research, including
>  experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a
>  massive laser facility that will recreate some of the
>  conditions inside nuclear weapons at detonation. The
>  facility's original function was to perform such
>  experiments on hydrogen isotopes, rather than
>  plutonium. Officials at the Department of Energy never
>  formally excluded the option of using plutonium in the
>  NIF, but a 1995 report prepared by scientists in the
>  department's non-proliferation office warned that its
>  use at the facility could be seen as provocative by
>  other nations.
>  The other main reason why Livermore wants to hold more
>  plutonium, according to energy-department documents,
>  is that it will start to lay the groundwork for the
>  renewed mass production of plutonium pits, used in US
>  nuclear weapons. Livermore will be charged with
>  developing new technologies for manufacturing the
>  pits, for use at a proposed industrial-sized
>  production facility. But questions remain over whether
>  this facility is either necessary or appropriate, and
>  this year Congress declined to appropriate the money
>  needed to begin planning for its construction.
>  Most of Livermore's new plutonium stocks would be
>  shipped there from the Los Alamos National Laboratory
>  in New Mexico, where the Department of Energy's track
>  record in handling plutonium does not inspire much
>  confidence. According to a report released on 29
>  November by the Institute for Energy and Environmental
>  Research, a watchdog group based near Washington DC,
>  Los Alamos has managed to lose between 300 kg and 600
>  kg of the material over the years. The group suggests
>  that much of it was dumped indiscriminately in the
>  desert during the early days of the nuclear age, or
>  was mislabelled when shipped off elsewhere for
>  long-term storage.
>  And Livermore has had its own problems with plutonium.
>  In January, its plutonium facility, where scientists
>  work with the metal under heavily controlled
>  conditions, was shut down amid safety concerns.
>  Problems cited at the time included cracks in the
>  building's ventilation systems and poorly constructed
>  'hot boxes' for handling the metal. The facility was
>  allowed to reopen at a reduced capacity last month.
>  The laboratory is wasting its time researching pit
>  production for a facility that may never actually be
>  built.
>  In light of all this, Livermore's plan to double its
>  inventory of plutonium is ill-advised. A case for
>  plutonium experiments at the NIF has not been made,
>  even to review groups that have the security clearance
>  needed to assess it. And the laboratory is wasting its
>  time researching pit production for a facility that
>  may never actually be built. For a mixed-use
>  scientific facility in a residential area, 700 kg of
>  plutonium is enough, already
>  +++++++++++++++++++
>  "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."
>  "John F. Kennedy, U.S. President and former Naval Officer
>  -- John
>  John Jacobus, MS
>  Certified Health Physicist
>  e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com
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