BLOG purpose

This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Opinions not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SPSE-UPTE Working to Reduce the Hardship of Shrinking Take Home Pay for Some in TCP1 Retirement Plan

From SPSE: SPSE-UPTE Working to Reduce the Hardship of Shrinking Take Home Pay for Some in TCP1 Retirement Plan ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ By William Smith ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To fund TCP1, those LLNL employees who elected to stay in the TCP1 defined benefit plan that replaced the University of California’s Retirement Plan had their take home pay cut by around 10% in June for most employees. Soon, in 2013, take home pay may be cut by nearly 14%. With medical and other premiums increasing, many employees are looking at reducing contributions to 401(K) retirement plans, cutting entertainment expenses, moving to less expensive quarters, and at least one has quit LLNL to take a better paying job elsewhere. As part of the bargaining to modify the contract between LLNS to negotiate reductions in benefits with the skilled trades bargaining unit, SPSE-UPTE has identified several options for reducing the hardship. These options range from a pay increase of 5% to the reinstallation of progressive benefit rates, where percentage of payroll contributed increases with base pay. At LANS, once pay for the year exceeds the social security base, the deduction for retirement contributions is increased by 2% so that higher earners contribute a higher percentage of their salary to retirement. Although LLNL’s total contributions started late, they now far exceed the contributions of UC for both employee and employer. The LLNS employer contribution for 2012 is about double that of UC’s employer contribution and the LLNS employer contribution is projected to increase the effective cost of TCP1 labor by over 30% in 2013 in comparison to 0% in 2011. Tales of true hardship looming after mandatory contributions to TCP1 begin abound. One woman who has a disabled husband and joined LLNL mid-career will have to cut back on her contributions to her supplemental retirement program. Without supplemental retirement contributions she does not know how she will pay for higher than normal family medical expenses during retirement. SPSE-UPTE is negotiating to reduce hardships resulting from this steep increase in TCP1 pension contributions and working with management to control pension costs to keep LLNL competitive. Your stories of personal hardship or of sponsor concerns with high LLNL overhead costs would help inform the negotiations.

Rumor of layoffs!

Anonymously contributed: layoffs! NIF cut 49 loose with more to go: ULM has been secretly cutting employees loose around the lab. EBAS are next. A high ranking nif employee is headed out the gate.

The NAS Report and UPTE’S Response Rally

From the JULY 2012 SPSE-UPTE Monthly Memo The NAS Report and UPTE’S Response Rally By Jeff Colvin On February 15, 2012 the National Academies (NAS) National Research Council released a congressionally mandated Report on their year-long study of the management of the nation’s national security laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). The strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) held a hearing on the NAS Report less than 24 hours after it was released. Motivating the study was the 2006-2007 transition of LANL and LLNL to private, for-profit monopoly management by Los Alamos National Security, LLC and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC. The NAS was charged with studying the effects of the management transitions on the Labs’ scientific and national security missions. The basic conclusions of the NAS Report were that scientific productivity, operational efficiency, and employee morale have all declined since the management transitions; and that the new for-profit, monopoly management structure costs more --- the NAS Report gives a range of numbers between ~$210 Million and more than $300 Million as the added yearly cost. The NAS found that excessive formalities, checklists, and oversight by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have put science at the Labs, and experimental science in particular, in jeopardy. The NAS Report attributes the decline of science at the Labs almost solely to excessive NNSA oversight, and completely misses the connection between excessive oversight and the milestone-driven Performance Bonus Incentive private company management structure. UPTE leaders and members have elaborated our arguments for why the for-profit monopoly management structure is at the root of the Labs’ problems in our written testimony to the HASC Hearing on 16 February. Our testimony can be seen in its entirety here. In our later Response to the NAS Report, which we also submitted to Congress, we argue for de-privatization as the preferred solution to the problems identified in the Report, and even float a suggestion for how to get the de-privatization process started. Our Response can be seen in its entirety here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

82 year old nun infiltrates highest security area of Y-12

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 82 year old nun infiltrates highest security area of Y-12 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If this story is true, it will have ramifications across the weapons complex. "Three peace activists -- including an 82-year-old nun -- infiltrated the highest-security area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in a predawn protest Saturday, reportedly evading guards and cutting through three or four fences in order to spray-paint messages, hang banners and pour human blood at the site where warhead parts are manufactured and the nation's stockpile of bomb-grade uranium is stored. It was an unprecedented security breach at the Oak Ridge plant, which enriched the uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and continues to be a mainstay of the U.S. nuclear defense program." "Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Y-12, declined to discuss details of the early-morning events at the Oak Ridge, but he acknowledged that the unapproved entry into the plant's inner sanctum -- a high-security zone known simply as the Protected Area -- was unprecedented. "There's never been a situation like this before to my knowledge," Wyatt said Saturday afternoon. If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant's core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant's security against more menacing intruders." Full story: story

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Follow the money!

Anonymously contributed: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Follow the money! What nuclear weapons contractors donate the most to which members of congress?

GAO: Lab oversight still needed due to the Quintana scandal

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ GAO: Lab oversight still needed due to the Quintana scandal The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has also expressed reservations about changing the oversight mechanism at the weapons laboratories. While he declined to comment on the House legislation specifically, Eugene Aloise, GAO natural resources and environment director, told GSN that limiting the Energy Department’s ability to conduct independent oversight of the NNSA sites “just doesn’t make sense.” Between 2000 and 2007 there were more 50 security violations at the facilities, “35 of which severely impacted our national security,” Aloise said, referring to a period that included a 2006 incident in which a Los Alamos employee removed more than 1,000 pages of classified documents from the facility, among other incidents (see GSN, July 16, 2007). “Now things seem to be quiet,” Aloise said. As it is, Aloise said he is concerned the Energy Department’s health and safety office is not independent enough to adequately oversee the NNSA laboratories, and suggested that a hypothetical third entity entirely separate from the department would be a better solution. Having the nuclear agency regulate itself would only make matters worse, he said.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Uh - Oh, POGO is back!

Anonymously contributed: Uh - Oh, POGO is back! "One of the nation’s main nuclear weapons labs has sharply underestimated the amount of radiation that could leak from the facility as a result of an earthquake, according to a federal advisory panel. The radiation could be more than four times as intense as the Los Alamos National Laboratory predicted in a safety analysis last year, according to a recent report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. The New Mexico laboratory’s analysis included “multiple, substantial deficiencies,” wrote Peter S. Winokur, chairman of the advisory board. The higher estimate calls for “additional safety controls” and “prompt action,” he added. The report’s findings raise questions about the safety and reliability of Los Alamos, which says its work includes ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. Analyses like the one in question “are fundamental elements for ensuring safe operations at defense nuclear facilities,” Winokur wrote. The Los Alamos facility is near geologic fault lines that show signs of past quakes, according to a 2007 “seismic hazard analysis” performed for the laboratory. The advisory board’s findings come at a time when nuclear weapons laboratories, which are managed for the government by private contractors, are pushing for greater freedom from oversight. " ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Obama Official Supports Lawmaker's Opponent Over Nuclear Lab Stance

Anonymously contributed: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Global Security Newswire July 17, 2012 Obama Official Supports Lawmaker's Opponent Over Nuclear Lab Stance A California congressional delegate's purported opposition to nuclear weapons activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory prompted the Obama administration's special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense to endorse the lawmaker's electoral opponent last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A representative of the laboratory's legislative district must acknowledge the facility's benefits, including its contribution toward a "a safe and reliable and effective nuclear stockpile," said Ellen Tauscher, a former House member who for 12 years worked alongside Representative Pete Stark (D-Calif.). "It's important that we have somebody ... with the aptitude and the attitude to do what's right, and not be either agnostic -- or working against it," Tauscher said. The former undersecretary of State for arms control and international security backed the candidacy of Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Eric Swalwell, Stark's Democratic rival. Stark, 80, has resisted U.S. financing of nuclear arms preparation efforts at the laboratory and cited the possible effects of those activities on the surrounding area. Updated congressional districting, though, would place Lawrence Livermore and the California branch of the Sandia National Laboratories back into Stark's area of representation. "We ought to pack [the laboratory] up and move it to Nevada," former LLNL spokesman Jeff Garberson quoted the lawmaker as saying. Stark campaign chief Sharon Cornu, though, on Thursday stated the congressman is "an enthusiastic supporter of basic research and the jobs [the laboratory] creates in our communities." Stark "has been very vocal in his support for the scientific and economic mission of the lab and its important work in maintaining the current nuclear arsenal," but he does not favor "an expansion of the U.S. nuclear stockpile," Cornu said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bureaucracy strangles critical work at LANL

Anonymously contributed: ________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, July 16, 2012

The entangled histories of climate science and nuclear weapons testing

Anonymously contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What happened to Tomas?

Anonymously contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------------- What happened to Tomas? Heard he's left the lab . . .

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Parney: Lab close to ignition

Anonymously contributed: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Weapons Complex Morning Briefing July 11, 2012 LLNL Director: Despite Missed Milestone, Lab ‘Tantalizingly Close’ to Ignition Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Parney Albright defended the laboratory’s quest to achieve fusion ignition in a memo to senior laboratory officials Monday, suggesting that the lab should get more time to pursue the challenging scientific breakthrough. Albright’s memo comes on the heels of revelations last week that the National Ignition Facility missed a key ignition milestone and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s admission that the facility was “unlikely” to achieve ignition by the expected target date of Sept. 30. Suggesting that lab officials had made significant progress in the three-year ignition campaign, Albright estimated that the lab was 75 percent of the way to achieving ignition, but conceded that it might be another two years before that goal is reached. “A year ago, most external reviewers of NIF believed that it would take up to three years of high quality experiments to either achieve ignition or fully explore the ignition regime offered by the NIF laser as currently configured,” Albright said in the memo. “We have regularly been doing these high quality experiments for only about a year. So, the data and progress to date show that we should continue the current vigorous investigation of ignition before making any decision about next steps.” Albright highlighted the fact that NIF laser operated on July 5 at 1.8 million joules and 500 trillion watts for the first time. That represents the power needed to achieve ignition, but laboratory officials have thus far been flummoxed by inconsistencies between predictions of how the capsule will implode and the actual results of experiments. He said that experiments this summer will focus on meeting the “alpha heating” milestone that the lab missed in June, which is viewed as a necessary stepping stone to achieving ignition. “Based on all the data taken to date, we are tantalizingly close and have found no fundamental reasons that would preclude us from achieving ignition. We could have major successes in the next few months or it might be longer. In either case, the timescale is short compared to the 50-year journey we have been on.”

Working at LLNL: opinions

Sandia Lab layoffs?

Anonymously contributed: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sandia has been undergoing Total Comp-- a means of defining and benchmarking job descriptions and job families to the market. For the most part, most non-represented exempt employees saw their pay bands lowered. Now, all the overhead functions are being functionally aligned, and the rumor is, that redundancies will identified and layoffs will happen before the end of the fiscal year. Have you heard any other rumors like this?

Monday, July 9, 2012


Anonymously contributed: ............................................................................................ Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor Morning Briefing July 9, 2012 CALIFORNIA LAWMAKER: BE PATIENT ON NATIONAL IGNITION FACILITY Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), whose 10th District includes Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is urging patience with the lab’s struggle to achieve fusion ignition at the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility. The National Nuclear Security Administration revealed last week that the facility had missed a key milestone on the path to ignition, with a spokesman acknowledging that it is “unlikely” that the lab will meet expectations to achieve ignition by the end of the fiscal year. “Science doesn’t always follow the timelines of mankind, but we would be centuries behind if we gave up after every scientific hiccup,” Garamendi said in a statement provided to NW&M Monitor. “America may still lead the world in scientific advances, but every day we are reminded that other countries are nipping at our heels—and chipping away at the economic windfalls that occur in countries that embrace public research.” Garamendi added: “The experiments done at the National Ignition Facility and similar research facilities are complex and require an investment of time, effort, and patience, but they pay off in the end. NIF conducts work that is crucial to our national defense and energy security. The NIF facility is more than just a fusion energy research, it is a critical element in maintaining safe, secure, and reliable weapon systems. Just think, ‘Where would our economy be today if we gutted the public research that led to the Internet?’ ”

Quote from somewhere...

Anonymous contributor is quoting the following from somewhere: ..................................................................... Nothing to see here folks - move along: “Over the past decade, we have made numerous recommendations to DOE and NNSA to improve their management and oversight practices. DOE and NNSA have acted on many of these recommendations and have made considerable progress. Nevertheless, enough significant management problems remain that prompt some to call for removing NNSA from DOE and either moving it to another department or establishing it as a separate agency. As we concluded in January 2007, however, we do not believe that such drastic changes are necessary, and we continue to hold this view today. Importantly, we are uncertain whether such significant organizational changes to increase NNSA’s independence would produce the desired effect of creating a modern, responsive, effective, and efficient nuclear security enterprise. In light of the substantial leadership commitment to reform made by senior DOE and NNSA officials, and the significant improvements that have already been made, we believe that NNSA remains capable of delivering the management improvements necessary to be an effective organization, and we will continue to monitor NNSA’s progress making these improvements.”

Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!

Anonymously contributed: Another GAO study of NNSA Surprise, surprise, surprise!!! "Nevertheless, NNSA continues to experience major cost and schedule overruns on its projects, such as research and production facilities and nuclear weapons refurbishments, principally because of ineffective oversight and poor contractor management."

LLNL superblock: what is going on?

Anonymously contributed: ................................................................................... I am curious as to the what will be happening with the Superblock at LLNL. We've been shipping out material and NNSA and Livermore are proudly announcing they are far ahead of schedule on this exportation. Yet now we hear that with the demise of CMRR, LANL will be pushing some plutonium work to LLNL. Is Livermore doing an out with the old / in with the new? And what of the staffing reduction in security with the expectation of not having material to protect. Is it a matter of NNSA's left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Modernizing US nuc strategy

Anonymously contributed: James Cartwright, the retired Marine Corps general who commanded U.S. nuclear forces from 2004-07, thinks the U.S. should acknowledge that a large nuclear force is of limited value in deterring today's major threats. "No sensible argument has been put forward for using nuclear weapons to solve any of the major 21st century problems we face," including threats posed by rogue states, terrorism, cyber warfare or climate change, Cartwright and his colleagues at Global Zero wrote in a report in May. Global Zero is an organization that advocates a step-by-step process to achieve the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. The group argues that the U.S. could safely reduce its arsenal over the coming 10 years to 900 total nuclear weapons. That compares with the current U.S. arsenal of about 5,000 weapons, of which 1,737 are deployed. ------ From Cartwright’s paper… “This notional [US nuclear] force would consist of ten (10) Trident ballistic missile submarines armed with 720 strategic missile warheads (360 deployed; 360 reserve) and eighteen (18) B-2 bombers armed with 180 gravity bombs (90 deployed; 90 reserve). The submarine force would offer a high degree of survivability for many decades – no peer competitor currently has any effective anti-submarine warfare capability against U.S. SSBNs at sea and technological breakthroughs that could threaten this survivability are several decades away. Both submarines and bombers would offer a high degree of flexibility… The Minuteman land-based ICBM force would be eliminated. ICBMs can only support nuclear wartime operations against Russia because current-generation ICBMs fired from the existing three (3) bases on their minimum energy trajectories have to overfly Russia and China to reach targets in potentially adversarial third countries (e.g., Iran, North Korea), and fly dangerously close to Russia to reach Syria. U.S. ICBMs would also have to overfly Russia to reach targets in China… Russia and China are not enemies of the United States. If they were, and nuclear planners allocated this 900-weapon arsenal according to Cold War targeting principles, the following (strictly) illustrative categories of targets and warhead assignments would be possible: Russia: WMD (325 warheads including 2-on-1 strikes against every missile silo), leadership command posts (110 warheads), war-supporting industry (136 warheads). Moscow alone would be covered by eighty (80) warheads. China: WMD (85 warheads including 2-on-1 strikes against every missile silo), leadership command posts (33 warheads), war-supporting industry (136 warheads). North Korea, Iran, Syria: Each country would be covered by forty (40) warheads.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

What has the CIO done at LLNL?

Anonymously contributed: Can someone tell us what the CIO has accomplished since he arrived a year ago? What is done more efficiently and intelligently now as compared to a year ago? What is his agenda?

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