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Public input sought by U.S. Energy Dept.

By Mike Dinoffria, Special to the Daily Planet
Tuesday July 09, 2002

The U.S. Department of Energy will listen to public feedback as it writes the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s environmental impact statement.  

The report, which is done about every 10 years, could influence the direction of the UC-operated laboratory and the allotment of its approximately $1.4 billion annual budget for roughly the next decade. 

The Laboratory will hold public hearings July 10 and July 11 as part of its research in drafting the report. The research started June 17 and will continue until Aug. 13.  

“We’re analyzing the full scope of operations of the lab,” said National Nuclear Securities Administration document manager Tom Grim. The report is scheduled to be complete in 2004. It will forecast the impact of activity at the laboratory. The last environmental impact report was published in 1992.  

The purpose of an environmental review is to provide the public with an analysis of the potential environmental impact from research and testing.  

The laboratory will analyze alternatives to its current operations including an increase or decrease in activity at the lab. 

One concern of many local watchdog groups like the Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment is the construction of a nuclear weapons facility. 

Leuren Moret worked at the Livermore Laboratory from 1989 to 1991. She is currently on the City of Berkeley’s Environmental Commission. She is concerned that this report will result in more weapons-grade plutonium at the laboratory, and that it will have a negative impact on the environment. 

Another issue to be discussed will be proposals to consolidate where necessary, Grim said. This could include the removal unnecessary facilities. Building 25, the heavy element facility, could be closed down. 

The Lawrence laboratory has an annual budget of approximately $1.4 million and employs about 8,000 people. The experimental test facility, also called site 300, is a high-explosives test site 12 miles southeast of Livermore, between Livermore and Tracy. 

The public hearings are scheduled 1 and 6 p.m. July 10 at Double Tree Club (formerly the Holiday Inn), 720 Las Flores Road., Livermore; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. July 11 at Holiday Inn Express, 3751 N. Tracy Blvd., Tracy.