In (“Government Fines UC Over Los Alamos Lab,” Daily Nexus, Wednesday, Oct. 3) the Daily Nexus reports that ongoing mismanagement issues continue to plague the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s nuclear weapons facility co-run by our university. Lost drives containing secret weapons data are only one example of the blunders the University of California has allowed over the past several decades at Los Alamos. We refer readers to the Project on Government Oversight for a partial list –

What’s even more dangerous than the UC’s mismanagement of Los Alamos, however, is its “good” management of this facility. “Good” management of LANL has always meant researching and designing hydrogen bombs. Now, they’re actually producing nuclear weapon components such as plutonium pits and triggers.

This is messy work with serious environmental consequences. It’s also in violation of the spirit, if not letter of the law, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UC’s role as a “good” manager of the labs has also included lobbying the federal government against cuts in nuclear weapons spending and arms control treaties. It has furthermore lobbied for expansions of the arsenal and increased development of atomic weapons. “Good” management is just as bad, if not worse, than mismanagement.

A further issue on management of the labs deserves mentioning. Now that both facilities are co-operated by the UC through private, for-profit, mega-corporations such as Bechtel, management of the weapons labs has become even more secretive. The Student DOE Lab Oversight Committee,, requested information on lab management. We were turned down because it is claimed to be the proprietary information of the limited liability corporation of which the UC is a partner.

What other important information will be withheld from the public now that the labs have effectively been privatized, even though the UC remains an integral player? Fundamentally, the problems with these labs cannot be solved with technocratic tweaks and policy shifts. The root of the problem is that nuclear weapons are immoral, illegal and detract from the true humane missions of the university. To manage nuclear bomb facilities in this day and age is by definition to mismanage.