Editor, Daily Nexus,
Matt Macauley (“Protesters Lack Key Facts on Nukes, UC,” Daily Nexus, May 10) disagrees with the hunger strike against UC nuclear lab management for three reasons: 1) We need experts to clean up the mess and take care of the nuclear weapons stockpile, 2) UC is a better manager than a private corporation and 3) The labs are a haven for top scientists conducting research.
Like most students opposed to the hunger strike, he offers few actual facts, however. Here are some facts addressing his three claims.
1) UC doesn’t manage these facilities to maintain the stockpile or clean up the nuclear mess. The Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory just designed a new hydrogen bomb and the Los Alamos National Laboratory is preparing to manufacture plutonium bomb pits for this new nuclear weapon. On the historical end, UC helped conduct over 1,000 weapons tests, each of which has released radiation into our environment. UC still operates a massive waste dump at the Los Alamos lab and produces waste at LLNL and LANL that will last tens of thousands of years.
2) The labs are now actually managed by private corporations. The UC Regents are a business partner in these secretive companies that include Bechtel Corp. and other military industrial firms. Each contract is worth hundreds of millions in “performance fees.” Furthermore, current Chair of the Regents Richard Blum was once Vice President of a corporation that profited off contracts at Los Alamos.
3) Yes, the labs conduct research on more than just nuclear weapons. However, the central mission and vast majority of funds at the labs go to nuclear warhead research and design. I ask that interested readers download the National Nuclear Security Administration’s lab budget and take a look for themselves at http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/readingroom.htm. Any HIV, cancer, climate or energy research at these labs could easily be transferred out to other campuses.