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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Questions from tri-valley

Two questions for LLNL-the-true-story readers and bloggers: One, what do you know about any imminent plutonium experiments at the NIF? And, two, do you think the plutonium experiments already being carried out at Z and other facilities is sufficient to accomplish the task at hand? Here is the latest news article on plutonium experiments at Z...
U.S. Tests Plutonium to Gauge Nuclear Arms Readiness
Global Security Newswire (GSN) on Aug. 20, 2013
Sandia National Laboratories carried out a plutonium experiment this past spring to assess the working order of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday.
Such a test previously occurred at the New Mexico facility late last year.
The United States periodically undertakes these experiments using a "Z machine" that produces X-rays powerful enough to mimic the fusion reactions of nuclear weapons, allowing for the study of plutonium behavior without the detonation of an atomic device.

Marylia Kelley
Executive Director,
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)


Anonymous said...

Different tests are done to address different issues. People argue about how many different tests are needed, and decisions are made.

I'm sure you will get a lot of bile on this site by bitter people venting on those they disagree with, but the basic answer to your question is simple. A variety of mechanisms provide information that is currently deemed necessary. There is no obvious layman's answer that, for example, because we have A we don't need B or C.

I doubt you'll believe this, but whatever one thinks of the need for NIF tests, they represent essentially zero risk to you or anyone offsite. The only risk profile they present is to select workers at the facility. Even that risk is relatively minor and easily managed.

Marylia Kelley said...

While a variety of mechanisms may be needed to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile with regard to a weapon's existing safety and reliability until such time as it is retired, we may not need four of A, three of B, and five of C and so on (to use your examples). The question of how much is enough is a fair question to ask, and different answers can be expected. But access to our tax-dollars should not be viewed as unlimited, and Lab management security should not be confused with national security, and so prudent decisions to do some things and not others should be made. And, it seems to me that plutonium shots in NIF will not make a careful weaponeers "must do" list given other options and facilities already in use.

Moreover, in the LLNL Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, the scope of plutonium shots to be allowed at NIF was rather sweeping, including shots with fusion fuel and fissile materials (e.g., pu) together. For some of the plutonium shots, a separate smaller target chamber was to be assembled in B-331 and the workers were going to have to either use the elevator at the bottom of the NIF target chamber or crack the big target chamber on its horizontal axis to get the experiment inside. The document was clear this means worker exposures.

Further, after a single shot, the smaller target chamber was to go to Nevada as a waste - very expensive as well as providing opportunities for other kinds of exposures.

Indeed, the proposal to use pu and other fissile materials at NIF was shown to increase the radioactive waste at LLNL overall significantly.

You may think the risks are "relatively minor and easily managed" but (a) those terms are vague and mean different things to different people, and (b) the history of LLNL operations is that things can and do go wrong and people who work on site or live in the community are at risk - as is our air, land and water (all of which have demonstrably been impacted by LLNL operations).

Thus, I do not think that the question of plutonium use at NIF should be taken lightly or the risk brushed aside.

That said, my questions were intended to elicit each person's understanding and I appreciate your reply. Do you know when LLNL management proposes to begin pu experiments at NIF (my other question)?

Anonymous said...

Marylia Kelley, you are without question one of those most ignorant, naive and pretentious people I've ever encountered since moving to Livermore.

Your brand of biased thought and inability to change the way you think on subjects makes me embarrassed to call myself a liberal/progressive.

Anonymous said...

ad hominem |ˈad ˈhämənəm|

Attacking a person's motives or character rather than the policy or position they maintain: vicious ad hominem attacks.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: Latin, literally ‘to the person.’

Anonymous said...


Saw one yesterday. Damn stuff is everywhere. Like you, I have my Pu sensors turned way up to the "paranoid" setting. Using my imaginary viewer, I saw a molecule just sitting there, pulsing, wondering when to decay.

I waited, but a gust caught it and it floated away.

Then I sobered up.

Anonymous said...


attacking a opponents character by pointing out the foolishness of their existence.

Plato recommends it as one of four persuasive closing arguments in rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

My questions is this. How many years is congress and the senate going to let them beat a dead horse costing billions of tax payers dollars year after year after year. Just amazing to watch.

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