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Livermore Laboratory Health and Environmental Impacts

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Biowarfare Defense Research

Tritium Release Impacts

Plutonium Release Impacts

        Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) works with Livermore community group Tri-Valley CAREs and the San Francisco-Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility in several cooperative initiatives to monitor the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) environmental compliance, ensure cleanup of past releases, and educate the public about the Lab’s health and environmental impacts. In addition, WSLF, Tri-Valley CAREs and PSR are working with Alameda county public health officials to develop and implement a collaborative plan of action to address community concerns related to LLNL's health impacts. WSLF, Tri-Valley CAREs and PSR conduct periodic community forums on health and environmental concerns associated with the Livermore Lab, and trainings for community members and activists on the relevant scientific issues.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement Information Page
In June 2002, the National Nuclear Security Administration published a notice of intent to prepare a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). A Draft was circulated in the Spring of 2004. This page has information about the current status of the LLNL site-wide environmental review.
Biological Warfare Defense Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: the Proposed BSL-3 Facility
In July 2002, the Department of Energy circulated an Environmental Assessment for a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) Laboratory to be built at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The proposed lab will allow LLNL to expand its biological warfare defense work. The laboratory will be able to handle a wide array of biological agents. According to the Environmental Assessment, "The proposed facility would have the unique capability within DOE/NNSA to perform aerosol studies to include challenges of rodents using infectious agents or biologically derived toxins (biotoxins)." For additional information on the proposed facility at LLNL and on U.S. government biological warfare programs, click here.
Together with Tri-Valley CAREs and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social responsibility, WSLF has been monitoring government studies of the effects of tritium releases from the Livermore Laboratory.

In 2002, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued for public comment a Draft Public Health Assessment for Community Exposures to the 1965 and 1970 Accidental Tritium Releases from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. ATSDR was set up by Congress to provide communities potentially affected by toxic contamination from federal Superfund sites with information about public health threats.

WSLF and the other cooperating groups, after an initial review of the Draft Public Health Assessment, retained experts to assist them in evaluating the Assessment. The resulting reports, which raised significant issues concerning the methods employed and conclusions reached by ATSDR, can be found below.
Abel Russ and Robert Goble, “A Critical Review of ATSDR Public Health Assessment for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (public comment release May 24, 2002),” March 28, 2003 pdf download

Steve Wing, “Evaluation of ATSDR’s LLNL Public Health Assessment (May 24, 2002),” February 24, 2003 pdf download

Funding for this project was provided by the Citizens Monitoring and Technical Assistance fund.
Following the discovery of plutonium in three Livermore area parks, plutonium contamination from various possible Laboratory sources has become a the subject of continuing community concern. WSLF, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Tri-Valley CAREs are involved in processes designed to engage the directly-affected community in making decisions about plutonium in their environment. The groups have participated in both federal and state health agency investigations into plutonium contamination.
"Plutonium Threat in Livermore and the Public's Right to Know," Environmental Update,Tri-Valley CAREs, Western States Legal Foundation, and Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, December 1999 pdf download
"Livermore Town Meeting Update on Site Team Activities," Patrice Sutton, Western States Legal Foundation, 1998 (viewgraphs, pdf download)
In 2002, a California Health Services report proposed a process to investigate further the distribution of Livermore sewage sludge that may have been contaminated with plutonium. The report recommended that the process be funded by LLNL and the Department of Energy and implemented by Alameda County. As of January 2005, the process has not been funded.
On October 9, 2004, WSLF, Tri-Valley CAREs, and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility sponsored a workshop, "Plutonium in Livermore: Ethical Decision-Making for our Health and our Children's Health." The agenda, presentation abstracts, and presentation viewgraphs (if available) can be found by clicking here.
Representatives of WSLF, Tri-Valley CAREs, the California Department of Health Services, and the Alameda County Health Department continue to meet regularly as the Alameda County Plutonium Action Taskforce. The Task Force seeks to keep the process of investigating the impacts of LLNL plutonium releases moving forward, and to educate the public about the issue. In December 1999, WSLF, PSR, and Tri-Valley CAREs filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Report in connection with the decision to grant a hazardous waste management permit for the Livermore Laboratory.

        WSLF and its coalition partners sought to compel a heightened level of State scrutiny of laboratory hazardous management practices and expanded public access to laboratory activities which could pose a risk to the surrounding community.

        The lawsuit was settled in June 2001. The settlement agreement includes modifications to the permit, additional environmental evaluation surveillance and enhanced reporting.

        DTSC agreed to increase its surveillance in the form of added inspections of the waste treatment facility in order to evaluate compliance with permit requirements pertaining to, among other things, emergency notification requirements, waste in “hold” status requirements and “unacceptable waste” requirements. The DTSC maintained its discretion to include additional review of other permit requirements if necessary.

        As part of the settlement, DTSC agreed to establish, on its official website for LLNL, a new hazardous waste management facilities section. The site will, for the first time, provide the public with information regarding LLNL violations, inspection reports, accident reports, waste minimization conditions, and notice of proposed permit modifications.

Fact Sheet - Hazardous Waste Facility Permit for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory December 1999

Complaint in Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, Western States Legal Foundation, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, v. State of California Department of Toxic Substance Control pdf download

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