Livermore Lab May Lose Nuke Reserves
In an effort to cut down on possible targets for a nuclear terrorist attack, the U.S. Dept. of Energy may remove Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s plutonium and uranium reserves.
In a congressional hearing Tuesday, representatives from the General Accounting Office testified that the terrorist threat to a nuclear weapons facility might be far greater than anticipated. A report from the GAO released Tuesday suggests that a suicide team of terrorists could barricade themselves in the facility and detonate a makeshift nuclear weapon. The possibility of attack is a concern for the Livermore lab, which is about 40 miles southeast of Berkeley.
“Without question, D.O.E. nuclear warhead production plants, test facilities, research labs, storage locations and decommissioned sites are attractive targets for terrorists determined to turn our technology against us, and willing to die while doing so,” Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said at the hearing.
LLNL officials dismissed the concerns about a possible terrorist attack, saying the lab is addressing a number of credible threats and has increased its security force.
“We received the highest rating possible through the Office of Security,” lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said. “We feel the lab is very safe.”
For more than half a century, the UC has managed three national laboratories for the U.S. government. But the Dept. of Energy decided last year to open the three management contracts to competitive bidding from other universities and corporations.
UC is proceeding as if it will bid for the lab, but the final decision will be up to the UC Board of Regents within the next year.
Ex-Chancellor Young To Work in Qatar
Former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young is heading Education City off the western coast of Saudi Arabia.
Young, who served as UCLA chancellor for 29 years and came out of a brief retirement for a four-year stint as president of the University of Florida, will spend two to three years running a consortium of educational centers in Qatar.
He will be president of the numerous centers operating under the Qatar Foundation’s umbrella, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 by Sheik Hamad ibn Khalifa al Thani; the foundation is currently led by Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned.
The centers include a day school for children ages 3 to 18, the Qatar Diabetes Association and the RAND Corp.’s Qatar Policy Institute.
Qatar is a wealthy, Islamic, Arabic-speaking nation that gained independence from Great Britain in 1971. Oil exports currently make up 90 percent of the nation’s income.
Several of Young’s former colleagues at UCLA called him “energetic” and “indefatigable.”
Some – such as Joseph Mandel, UCLA vice chancellor for legal affairs – said they were surprised when they received an e-mail April 20 announcing Young’s decision to take the position in Qatar, but that the surprise did not last long.
“For most of us, you draw the line and you rest on your accomplishments, but that is just not Chuck Young,” Mandel said, calling him a “natural leader in higher education.”
Residence Hall Cafeteria Erupts in Flames
A raging fire broke out in the cafeteria of UCR’s Lothian Residence Hall early Monday morning, causing the evacuation of all residents into the chilly night. Although one cafeteria staff worker was reportedly working until 8:30 p.m. Sunday, no injuries were reported by press time and the cause of the fire was still unknown.
According to Riverside City Fire Dept. spokesman Ted Laycock, the fire was primarily located in the kitchen of the dining hall.
“When we first got here, there was a lot of smoke showing,” Laycock said.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., flames still jutted out of the roof of the cafeteria, with giant clouds of white smoke billowing into the night air.
Around 1:35 a.m., lights in the parking lot and those visible in the residence hall went out, leaving those standing outside completely in the dark.
By 1:50 a.m., the fire, while dying, was still in the process of being contained.
Residents and staff members milled around parking lot 14, excitedly discussing the night’s events.
Anthony Keen, a second-year business administration major and a Lothian resident adviser, was in his room when he heard the fire alarm.
“About 20 minutes after, I heard some crashes, and some people said that the roof [of the kitchen] had caved in,” Keen said. “I also heard some chainsaw sounds.”
By press time, firefighters were still in the process of containing the fire. Laycock said that after extinguishing the fire, firefighters would stop and investigators would come in to examine the cause and nature of the incident.
Smoke from the fire reached across the campus, floating as far University Avenue. All traffic from East Campus Drive onto Big Springs Road was blocked off.