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Saturday, January 31, 2009
Just received a notice from UC that they will be requiring contributions to the retirement system in the range of 18 to 20 percent with UC picking up the lions share of that contribution.
Since TCP1 was structured to mirror what UC does with respect to contributions one would assume contribution will be required from TCP1 participants shortly
That's the way the cookie crumbles.
Found this story flying under the radar...
Ex-Janitor Pleads Guilty in Theft of Nuclear Parts
and earlier story with more detail.
Worker Charged With Stealing Nuclear Information
Of course the employee worked for Bechtel.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Bill Bruner, formerly of NASA, has been selected as Director of Government and External Relations, James A. Bono, formerly of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has been named Director of the Public Affairs Office and Scott Kopple, formerly of the National Nuclear Security Administration, joins the Laboratory as congressional liaison.
“The integration of these functions will strengthen communications between the Laboratory, our community, the media and all levels of government,” said Lab Director George Miller. “The diverse expertise that Bill, Jim and Scott bring to their positions will meet the needs of the Laboratory, and I am pleased to have them join our team.”
As Government and External Relations Director, Bruner will be responsible for strengthening Laboratory relations with all levels of government, the public and other stakeholders. He also will oversee the Laboratory’s Public Affairs and Protocol offices. Bruner will report to Laboratory Director George Miller and will be a member of the Laboratory’s senior management team.
“I am looking forward to tapping into Bill’s experience at NASA, which is world renowned for its public outreach and responsive government communications,” Miller said.
Bruner has 25 years of experience in strategic communications, government affairs, strategic planning and national security policy. Prior to joining the Lab, Bruner served as Deputy Chief of Strategic Communications, and as Assistant Administrator for Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs at NASA. From 2001-2004 he was the Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Bruner is a retired colonel from the U.S. Air Force, and served as an issues expert on the personal staff of the Secretary of the Air Force.
As Director of Public Affairs, Bono will report to the Director of Government and External Relations and serve as a key adviser to Laboratory senior management. Bono will oversee the Lab’s Media and Employee Communications, as well as its Community Relations and Education Outreach programs.
“Jim has diverse and comprehensive communications experience that will provide leadership and counsel to accomplish our communication objectives,” Miller said.
Bono brings 25 years of experience in the communication industry, with expertise in science, government, environmental and legal subject matter.
Prior to joining the Lab, Bono served as Director of Public Affairs at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 2001-2007 he held a key position as Deputy Inspector General within the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Office of the Inspector General. Bono also worked in the New York State Attorney General’s Office and served in various positions in local and national television news.
As congressional liaison, Kopple will join Christie Schomer, LLNL’s Director of Congressional Affairs, to support the Laboratory’s efforts in strengthening effective congressional communications in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy, and will provide subject matter expertise and analysis in responding to congressional interest in LLNL’s programmatic activities. He will be based in Washington, DC.
Kopple was at the Department of Energy/NNSA, serving as the NNSA Director of Congressional Affairs since 2006. Prior to that he was a staff member with the U.S. House Government Reform Committee.
“The Laboratory enjoyed a three and half year relationship with Scott while he was at NNSA, and I am confident his experience will serve this Laboratory well in building upon our responsiveness to congressional requests,” Miller said.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to ensure national security and to apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
"Letters went out to all of them today," said Kevin Roark, a spokesman for the New Mexico laboratory.
Concern over possible exposure to the hard, gray metal, which is purified for use in nuclear weapons and reactors and also used in bicycle frames and golf clubs, was first raised last November, when a box containing beryllium was received at the laboratory's short-term storage facility, he said.
"The package appeared to have damage or degradation of the packing materials, which prompted us to test the area for additional contamination," he said.
Surface contamination was found, but it turned out that the box was not the source, Roark said, adding that the source has not been determined.
Since the contaminated area had not been tested for the presence of beryllium since 2001, everyone who has entered the restricted-access area since then is being alerted, he said.
"It's just one building at one technical area," Roark said, noting that the laboratory covers 36 square miles and has nearly 10,000 employees.
Beryllium is hazardous only when its fine, particulate form is inhaled, he said. It was found on surfaces, not in the air, he said. Find out more about beryllium »
Roark said the alert was sent because "we think it's the responsible, prudent thing to do to let people know we discovered this contamination and to answer their questions if they have any concern about potential for exposure."
There are no reports of sickness and "we don't expect anyone to be ill," he said.
The laboratory said about 240 employees and 1,650 visitors were potentially at risk because they visited the contaminated areas.
About 2 percent of the exposed employees could become sensitized, a smaller percentage of whom could develop chronic beryllium disease, Roark said.
Inhalation of powdered beryllium can result in chronic beryllium disease, which can impair lung function in people who are susceptible.
The risk to the visitors would be "extremely low" because of the activities they performed and their short exposure time, Roark said.
An operator will be available at the laboratory at 505-665-7233 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Time, Monday through Friday.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Battelle's world: Columbus-based research giant extends its global reach
Sunday, January 25, 2009 3:54 AM
By Kevin Mayhood
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
We drive by its headquarters near Ohio State University, attend events in the hall named for it in the Columbus Convention Center and go to the park that bears its name, but few of us know what Battelle really does.
The research institute's stock in trade has always been smarts. The company that opened in Columbus in 1929 as Battelle Memorial Institute brought the world Xerox copiers, compact discs and the coating for M&M's.
But it's what we don't hear about -- the hundreds of contracts for national security, energy and health research -- that drives its revenue to new heights.
Battelle grew its annual revenue from $921 million in 1998 to $4.6 billion last year by winning contracts to manage seven national laboratories, boosting its national-security work and focusing a lot of research power on energy and health science.
Add those together, and "That's the world," said new CEO Jeffrey Wadsworth.
One sign of how well Battelle is doing is the announcement it made this month that it will invest $200 million to update, expand and build labs and add 200 jobs in central Ohio.
That investment in its labs is aimed at giving Battelle a leg up on competitors when the economy rebounds.
To be a major player in these fields, Battelle has tapped some of the top scientists in some of the largest and most advanced laboratories in the country.
Battelle manages six Department of Energy National Labs and one Department of Homeland Security lab.
The labs are so sophisticated that only a powerful government can afford them. For example, Battelle is overseeing cutting-edge research in nuclear and renewable energies, subatomic physics and medical isotopes.
"Big science today is on the billion-dollar scale, and it takes collaboration. It's hard enough for governments; a huge corporation can't do it alone," said Bill Madia, a former Battelle executive who now consults for the business.
"To have the international impact Battelle wants to have, we have to play at that scale."
The national-lab employees are considered Battelle employees, bringing the total worldwide to more than 21,000. On any given day, Battelle employees are working on 5,000 projects for 1,000 customers. This year, Battelle is working under nearly 2,200 contracts funded by government and 669 funded by for-profit companies, from Eli Lilly to NASCAR.
During the past 10 years, Battelle has more than doubled its own facilities to 161 labs and offices worldwide. It has a growing presence in China; subsidiaries in Korea, Japan and India; and a deal to help run Malaysia's national renewable-energy lab, which focuses on tropical bio-energy sources.
"They're very straightforward; they don't really look at opinions," said Tim Studt, former editor of R&D Magazine and current editor in chief of its sister publication, Laboratory Equipment magazine.
"They work at issues logically and give the facts."
A few other companies are like Battelle, an independent research and development organization, Studt said.
"But they're nowhere near the size."
The effort to expand into national-lab management began in 1992 under then-CEO Douglas Olesen. Battelle had managed the Pacific Northwest National Lab since 1964 and added three more during Olesen's tenure.
When Olesen retired in 2001, Battelle's board of directors tapped Carl Kohrt, the first outsider to run the company.
On his first day, Kohrt, who came from Kodak, gave the board of trustees and the entire company a set of principles and "a strategy to grow the organization so we can have impact."
Madia summed up the change: "Carl Kohrt's vision for Battelle is to be a dominant world player in relevant areas of science and technology."
At the same time, Battelle is growing a network of scientists whose expertise and experience build and make the nonprofit company even more valuable.
In other words, while the government and commercial customers get the product or answer they seek, "Battelle gets a tremendous amount of know-how," said Barbara Kunz, president of Health and Life Sciences, a Battelle division.
Under Kohrt, who retired last year, Battelle focused its efforts on national security, energy and health to gain depth that others lack, said John B. McCoy, chairman of the Battelle board of directors.
As it has grown, Battelle has worked to stay true to the institute's founding principles, a lesson learned the hard way.
Battelle Memorial Institute was created by Gordon Battelle's will in 1923.
Battelle, the son of an industrialist, said the nonprofit institute would be run by a local, independent board of directors; focus on research and development in metallurgy and education; and take discoveries to market.
His will also said that a portion of revenue must go to charitable enterprises.
Battelle opened for business in 1929 and, for 40 years, built labs, hired scientists and made discoveries.
But in 1969, then-Franklin County Probate Judge Richard Metcalf questioned whether Battelle was neglecting its philanthropic promises. Eventually, state Attorney General Paul W. Brown sued.
In a 1975 settlement, Battelle paid $80 million to more than 125 groups and organizations. Over time, money was used to build Battelle Memorial Hall at the Columbus Convention Center, refurbish the Ohio Theatre and create Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park.
A 158-page agreement with the attorney general's office detailing what Battelle could and couldn't do was filed with the court.
Then the IRS stepped in and questioned whether Battelle should keep its tax-exempt status.
Concerned that the IRS interpretations would stymie growth, Battelle gave up its tax-exempt status, said Russell P. Austin, general counsel and secretary of Battelle.
The nonprofit then paid tens of millions of dollars in back taxes.
Battelle continued to work under the state agreement, but after it began to grow, its leaders felt somewhat constrained.
The institute went to court in 1997 to update the agreement with Attorney General Betty Montgomery. The settlement was replaced with an agreement that opened the door for Battelle to pursue any science endeavor and use almost any avenue to further the directives of the will.
The agreement says that Battelle must keep 62 percent of its charitable spending in central Ohio, as well as its top executives, and it limits the jobs that can be transferred out of Columbus.
It also states that the organization must give at least $1 million to charity every year. The previous agreement stated a minimum of $100,000.
Battelle's board of trustees eventually increased the minimum charitable contribution to $3 million annually and has lately given more, including nearly $11 million last year, primarily to boost science education.
Battelle regained its tax-exempt status in 2001.
"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about how to protect the tax-exempt status," Austin said.
Battelle patents inventions, licenses technologies, manufactures products and creates spinoff companies that make and build on innovations discovered in its national labs.
For example, Battelle sold Velocys, a for-profit manufacturing spinoff in Plain City, in November for $35 million. Velocys makes microchannel processing systems that can reduce pollution by power plants.
The products, based on technology from the Pacific Northwest National Lab, which Battelle manages, are far smaller than conventional smokestack structures.
Battelle has committed about $400 million in recent years to a variety of capital ventures, said Alex Fischer, senior vice president for business and economic development.
An independent venture-capital fund called Battelle Ventures has put money into 20 spinoffs and startups that improve on technology that came from research at national laboratories.
The technologies include a migraine-treatment patch, protein therapeutics to rebuild heart muscle, high-tech scanners that could replace metal detectors and X-ray machines at airports, and electronic tags that can alert the owner of a package that someone has tampered with it.
The goal is to sell the ventures at a large profit.
"We're just opening our eyes to what we can do with public policy," said Fischer, former deputy governor of Tennessee and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Fischer oversees the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, an economic-development research group based in Cleveland. The 25 Battelle employees there push technology-based economic development in cities and states across the country.
Despite its worldwide growth, Battelle sees itself as a local company, and local officials see it as a corporate magnet.
"I think Battelle is one of the most important assets to Columbus," said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.
Battelle has opened manufacturing plants in Dublin and Hilliard, added to its work force in Columbus and West Jefferson, and brought companies such as Velocys to central Ohio.
Companies such as NetJets moved to Columbus and have stayed partly because of Battelle, Coleman said.
He and Ty Marsh, president of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, said they use Battelle as a selling point when lobbying companies to move here.
And they laud Battelle's commitment to investing in local initiatives, including the Metro High School and the COSI Columbus science museum.
Wadsworth, who joined Battelle in 2002, used to work at Stanford University, Lockheed and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
He was director of Oak Ridge National Lab from 2003 to 2007 and then oversaw Battelle's global lab operations before becoming president.
Wadsworth, who was born in England, admires the Manchester United soccer club, a powerhouse that unabashedly pursues the world's best players.
"We want to be a dynasty," he said. "That ensures the success of Battelle Memorial Institute."
From the LANL BLOG:
U.S. Releases Nuclear Complex Modernization Details - Global Security Newswire
Friday, Jan. 23, 2009
The United States has released new details on decade-long plans to alter the budgets, goals, facilities and staffs of key facilities in an effort to modernize and streamline the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, Nuclear Watch New Mexico announced yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 1, 2007).
The watchdog group said it successfully pursued a Freedom of Information Act request that led the National Nuclear Security Administration to post the information online.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is set to expand its mission far beyond work involving the nuclear weapons stockpile, increasing research aimed at addressing threat reduction, homeland security, defense and environmental issues, according to the 10-year site plans released by the semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department.
The Nevada Test Site would focus on evaluating nuclear-weapon reliability without conducting test detonations. The DOE agency expects to build a new hydrodynamic test facility at the site for studying nuclear weapons with high-speed imaging technology. The imaging site would assume the responsibilities of an existing facility at Los Alamos (see GSN, May 20, 2008).
The Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico is expected to eliminate one-fifth of its nuclear weapons personnel while pursuing research on energy and infrastructure issues. The laboratory would continue its nuclear weapons work, though, and is expected to establish a new nuclear-weapon development and maintenance site.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California would phase out much of its nuclear-weapon activities although it would remain the primary site for high-explosives tests relevant to nuclear weapons development.
The Kansas City Plant in Missouri is slated to receive a new, privately funded nuclear-weapon component manufacturing site despite questions about continued legislative support for the project (see GSN, Oct. 20, 2008).
The Savannah River Site in South Carolina is expected to produce more tritium than required to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile if President Barack Obama opts to shrink the arsenal further, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico (see GSN, Nov. 10, 2008).
Nuclear-weapon assembly and dismantling work at the Pantex Plant in Texas is expected decrease through fiscal 2010 and then gradually increase until it peaks in fiscal 2015, resulting in changing staffing and resource needs for the site (Nuclear Watch New Mexico release, Jan. 22).
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Just got home from the drugstore. Coverage for my medications under the new Anthem-Blue Cross EPO plan that I was basically FORCED into by LLNS when they canceled Health Net is way, way down. I have to pay $35 for each medication, when under Health Net, I had to pay $10 or at the most $20. (Plus, they wouldn't even cover two of my medications without special justification from my doctor.....they wanted me to pay $389 for one of them and $125 for the other.)
This is despite the fact that my own contribution to the Anthem-Blue Cross EPO Health Plan (given my years of service to UC) WENT UP FROM $240/month for better coverage under Health Net TO MORE THAN $380/month (almost a 60% increase). And office co-pays went from $15 to $20. Less and less coverage for more and more money. Thanks DOE. Thanks UC. Thanks LLNS. Thanks George Miller.
Don't want to hear how LLNS is doing us such a great favor because "medical benefits are not guaranteed." The FACT is that UC retirees from non-LLNL/non-LANL campuses (including LBNL, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, UCLA, Davis, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Irvine, and probably UC Merced, if there are any) still have more choices in plans (like our old Health Net), pay lower premiums, and have better benefits. I feel like a second-class UC citizen. Why are we being treated so differently than UC retirees from the other campuses?
I was SOLD on the idea when I came to work at LLNL and throughout my career, on a UC RETIREMENT (and all benefits thereby included, those guaranteed or not). NOT a DOE RETIREMENT. NOT a LLNS RETIREMENT. I understood that health benefits for retirees were not guaranteed. BUT, nobody even said that UC/LLNL retirement benefits would be anything less or even different from OTHER UC campuses.
It doesn't seem right or fair. Maybe it's legal, but it ought to be investigated. Seems like the stuff class-action lawsuits are made of.
Any opinions out there?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
So the topic of the post is what do you like about working at LLNL. Among other things I enjoy the freedom to do my job with minimal supervision. My management knows that I know how to do my job and lets me do it. I've had jobs where I've had to give daily and weekly status reports. No fun.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
U.S. EPA says cleanup must resume at nuclear weapons research site / Northern California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory must immediately address Superfund site contamination
Release date: 01/07/2009
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415-947-4248, firstname.lastname@example.org
(San Francisco, Calif. -- 01/07/08) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified the Department of Energy that they must immediately resume cleanup activities at its Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., or face escalating penalties.
A federal facilities agreement was signed between EPA, DOE and California state agencies in June 1988. The agreement outlines DOE's responsibilities and milestones for addressing site contamination.
DOE has failed to operate numerous groundwater and soil vapor treatment facilities and associated wells -- an integral part of cleanup activities at the site. While pump-and-treat systems have been shutdown, site contamination has spread laterally and vertically, resulting in a larger volume of contaminated groundwater and increasing timeframes for completing the overall cleanup.
“The shutdown of the treatment systems puts the community and the environment at risk,” said Michael Montgomery, assistant director for the EPA’s Superfund Division in the Pacific Southwest region. “The taxpayers have already paid for the construction of the treatment systems -- it’s DOE's responsibility to operate them”
Indicators show that the recent failure of a large treatment unit on the perimeter of the site has resulted in a loss of contaminated groundwater plume control off-site, where it may spread beneath adjacent local neighborhoods.
The EPA is seeking $105,000 in penalties for the period from July to September 2008 for DOE’s failure to resume cleanup.
Additionally, the EPA is continuing to assess penalties of $10,000 per week from Oct. 1 until DOE resumes the cleanup. Because the violations of the federal facilities agreement are ongoing, the penalty amount will continue to increase until DOE fully restarts the shuttered treatment facilities and associated wells at the site.
Although DOE began shutting down and ceasing to repair treatment facilities in February 2008, the EPA is not assessing penalties for that time period in recognition of the challenges presented by a funding shortfall.
Recent Site History:
· In 2007, the EPA certified that DOE had built the necessary groundwater and soil vapor treatment systems needed to clean up the site. The intention was for DOE to operate the systems until the cleanup standards selected by DOE and the EPA were met. It was estimated that this would take several decades.
· In early 2008, DOE informed the EPA that Congress had reduced funding for the cleanup and that DOE would need to start shutting down the treatment systems. The EPA advised DOE to seek reprogramming of funds from Congress. By the time this was accomplished, 28 treatment systems had been shut down and 60 percent of the technical support staff had been laid off.
· Despite receiving full funding in July 2008, DOE has still not restored operation of most of the systems.
Site Background Information:
· The one square-mile Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory site is an active multi-program research laboratory operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. A number of research and support operations at LLNL handle, generate, or manage hazardous materials that include radioactive wastes. Hazardous waste treatment activities are carried out on site. The site first was used as a Naval Air Station in the 1940s. In 1951, it was transferred to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and was established as a nuclear weapons and magnetic fusion energy research facility. In 1984, the California Department of Health Services issued an order for compliance to LLNL to provide alternative water supplies to residents west of the facility, whose wells had been contaminated by hazardous substances from LLNL.
· LLNL is a Superfund site, listed on the National Priorities List as one of the most contaminated sites in the country. The EPA and DOE first signed an agreement to cleanup LLNL in 1988. Groundwater and soil under the site and in neighboring areas are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and other hazardous chemicals.
For additional information about Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Superfund site please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/lawrencelivermoremain
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I want you guys to be the first of all my e-mail buddies that I wish to senHappy New Year greetings...
As I reflect on 2008, I can say we had a great year:
Blacks are happy; Obama was elected.
Whites are happy, OJ is in jail.
Democrats are happy; George Bush is leaving office.
Republicans are happy: Democrats will finally quit saying George Bush stole the election.
And all of us are happy; The election is finally over!
I think 2009 will be even better: Immediately after his inauguration, Obama will balance the budget, revive the economy, solve the real estate problem, solve the auto industry problem, solve our gas/alternative energy problem, stop the fires and mudslides in California, ban hurricanes and tornadoes, stop identity theft, reverse global warming, find Osama, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, get rid of corruption in government and achieve world peace . Then on the 7th day, He will rest.
My best wishes for 2009!
"The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else."
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