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Western States Legal Foundation * Tri-Valley CAREs*
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Tuesday, April 10, 2001

for further information:

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, (510) 839-5877
Bob Schaeffer, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, (941) 395-6773


        The Department of Energy (DOE) budget proposal released today is "an irresponsible document based on perverted priorities," according to a national network of groups from communities near U.S. nuclear weapons sites.

        In California, the budget request for cleanup of toxic and radioactive pollutants at the DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) was cut 48%; from $21.7 million in the current year to $11.3 million for Fiscal Year 2002.

        "This budget is unconscionable," stated Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs. "A 48% cut in environmental restoration means the government is reneging on its legal and moral commitment to clean up its mess. DOE is walking away and leaving cancer-causing contaminants like TCE, RDX high explosives and radioactive tritium and Uranium in our groundwater."

        The LLNL main site and site 300 high explosives testing range are both on the "Superfund" list of most contaminated sites in the nation.

        Pursuant to the Superfund law, a Federal Facilities Agreement -- signed by DOE, Livermore Lab, the Environmental Protection Agency, the CA Department of Toxic Substances Control and the CA Regional Water Quality Control Board -- sets the legally-enforceable cleanup milestones that must be met each year.

        "This budget request does not contain sufficient monies for DOE to meet its bare-bones legal obligations," Kelley pointed out. "We will insist that DOE be held to account."

        Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Oakland-based Western States Legal Foundation called the budget request "appalling," and decried the funding increase for nuclear weapon design tools, like the National Ignition Facility, under construction at Livermore Lab. The 2002 budget request includes at $245 million for construction next year.

        "The Administration has its priorities backward. The NIF and the 'stockpile stewardship' program, of which it is part, undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals. Further, NIF will increase the flow of radioactive contamination into the environment," charged Cabasso.

        Tri-Valley CAREs and Western States Legal Foundation are long-standing members of the nationwide Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA).

        The national network joined its two local groups in strongly criticizing the DOE request for funding for fiscal year 2002, which begins in October 2001. Among the flaws in the national funding picture, ANA cited:

- An increase of $231 million for nuclear weapons research (bringing the total to $5.3 billion) that critics say does little to protect the stockpile while funding new weapons design and production that violates the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament under the Non-Proliferation Treaty;

- Cuts to environmental programs totaling more than $400 million which ANA says will slow clean-up projects across the nation, endanger threatened water resources such as the Columbia, Snake and Savannah Rivers, and cost taxpayers even more when DOE loses law suits brought to compel compliance with binding environmental milestones;

- A boost of $173 million in "privatization," a program ANA labels "a proven failure, which amounts to little more than corporate welfare for a few inept contractors which continue to make no progress at real clean-up";

- A $100 million reduction in nuclear nonproliferation activities at the same time DOE is accelerating conversion of plutonium from nuclear warheads into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors , a technology ANA predicts will lead to "global nuclear proliferation";

- Continued funding for a radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain Nevada, which ANA calls "fatally flawed by bad science, anti-democratic politics, and environmental racism directed at the Native Americans who hold legal title to the land";

- A budget process which has "locked out" citizen participation by excluding grassroots stakeholders from input into the planning process, ignored their questions and concerns, and providing little site-specific information even though it is more than a month overdue.

        Due to these flaws, ANA concludes, "The Bush DOE budget is dead on arrival in our communities and in Congress," citing last week's U.S. Senate vote to increase environmental funding by one billion and widespread criticism by the Congressional Clean-up Caucuses, which are dominated by members of the President's own party.

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