DOE Plans to Truck Plutonium Bomb Cores from LANL to Livermore and Back

ACTION ALERT:  Please download the Tri-Valley CARES petition and gather signatures to stop the transportation of plutonium bomb cores from LANL to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (in Livermore, California) and back to LANL.  


Runs 8/9/13 through 8/16/13

(THEME UP AND UNDER)  This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety.  Here is this week’s top headline:

  • DOE Plans to Truck Plutonium Bomb Cores from LANL to Livermore and Back

Despite the loss of the required high security categorization at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to transport plutonium bomb cores from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to Livermore for what has been called “Shake and Bake” diagnostic testing.  The cores would be transported by truck from New Mexico, through Arizona, through the Los Angeles area to the Livermore nuclear weapons facility, located 50 miles east of San Francisco.

The Shake and Bake diagnostic testing involves a shaker pit, a thermal chamber and a drop test that simulate conditions during the storage, transportation or use of the bombs.  Following the tests, the cores would be trucked back to New Mexico.

Recently the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board revealed that up to five kilograms of plutonium could be used in each test.  Therefore, a whole bomb core could be tested at one time because modern nuclear bomb cores contain two to four kilograms of plutonium.

In late 2007, after the Livermore facility failed its “force on force” security tests, it permanently lost the high security categorization to house and test plutonium bomb cores.  Livermore was then forced to remove all of its bomb-usable plutonium to more secure storage areas at other DOE sites.

On October 1, 2012, with the “de-inventory” completed and more than 100 security personnel let go, the government officially lowered the security at Livermore so that it is no longer authorized to handle, test or store nuclear bomb usable quantities of plutonium, including these bomb cores.  Nevertheless, DOE plans to conduct an assessment in December to determine if the Shaker unit is ready for tests.

The Livermore-based Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, or Tri-Valley CAREs, is urging DOE to cancel its plan and prioritize alternatives that would reduce or eliminate transportation risks.  They have created a petition, in both English and Spanish, which may be downloaded at

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs, said, “Government officials have told us that Livermore Lab plans to obtain ‘variances’ to the nation’s security regulations in order to receive the plutonium bomb cores from Los Alamos. This dangerous scheme puts us all at risk – in New Mexico, in California and every place in between. Therefore, I ask all New Mexicans to download and sign the petition at or Working together, I am confident we can stop the weapons labs from putting deadly bomb cores on our highways. Moreover, with our ongoing activism, we can likewise stop the further development of nuclear weapons and the production of new bomb cores, which are the underlying reasons to perform ‘shake and bake’ testing.”


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