Hunger Strikers Protest Lab Management

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 15, 2007

On May 8, the Department of Energy announced the new management team for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL): the University of California, Bechtel National, BWX Technologies and others. 

On May 9, 42 students and supporters from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara and one person from UC San Francisco began a hunger strike, according to hunger-striker Chelsea Collonge, who graduated from UC Berkeley last year.  

Chelsea told the Daily Planet on Monday that she hopes the action will “wake the public up” to the role the university is playing, by managing the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and Livermore labs that are developing and manufacturing nuclear weapons. 

“As our country continues to respond to threats at home and abroad, our new team will ensure that the employees at Lawrence Livermore are able to continue enhancing our nation’s security,” said George Miller, designated director for the Lawrence Livermore Lab in a May 8 UC press statement. As one of his first acts as director, Miller appointed Dr. Steve Liedle, Bechtel vice president, as deputy director of the Livermore labs. 

The Planet was not able to reach UC’s Washington, D.C., spokesperson for a response to the hunger strike. 

“The mission of LLNL and LANL is changing. LLNL just succeeded in designing a new nuclear weapon, called the Reliable Replacement Warhead,” wrote hunger striker Darwin BondGraham on the group’s blog, at www.nonukeshungerstrike.blogspot.com. “Los Alamos is, as you read this, preparing the manufacturing infrastructure for the production of plutonium bomb pits, the core component of the bomb. In other words, these labs are leading an effort to design and build a whole new generation of nuclear warheads under direction of the National Nuclear Security Administration.” 

The hunger strikers—who are taking finals while consuming only water or fruit juices—will be at the Regents meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, UCSF Mission Bay Campus, 1675 Owens St., San Francisco. Collonge said she is asking the community to be present to convince the Regents to give up lab management.