Marylia Kelley, Livermore

Are you aware that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is seeking to increase the amount of nuclear bomb-grade plutonium it can use (and store) in our highly populated community? The mechanism through which the lab is seeking this and changes to other safety regulations is called a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement.

And, it gets worse. LLNL and its parent agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration, are dodging the law’s public participation requirements by pushing through these changes amid an ongoing pandemic and major fires.

Earlier this month, the NNSA published a “Notice of Intent” in the Federal Register to make changes to LLNL’s nuclear material limits and other programs. In it, NNSA announced a minimal 45-day public comment period on the “scope” of its proposed environmental review.

Last week the NNSA announced there would be a virtual public hearing, now set to happen on Monday, Sept. 2.

What can the public do to safeguard both its health from nuclear mishaps and its right to meaningfully participate in the decision?

1. Immediately send NNSA a request for a 90-day extension to the public comment period. Send your request to LLNLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov. If you can’t email, call (833) 778-0508 or mail your request to Fana Gebeyehu-Houston, Document Manager, NNSA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, PO Box 808, L-293, Livermore, CA 94551-0808.

2. Participate in the virtual public hearing via WebEx on the “scope” of the environmental review. The meeting will run from 6-8 p.m. at https://tinyurl.com/LLNLSW9-2 . During the public comment portion, ask for a 90-day extension of the comment period and for a second public meeting closer to the end of the new comment period.

3. Seek more information. The NNSA announcement of the virtual public meeting, the Federal Register Notice and other materials can be found at www.trivalleycares.org. You can also access documents at www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room.

You may want to note that LLNL’s Site 300 has already been evacuated due to fire danger. Many of our neighbors around Livermore and Tracy are making contingency plans. Some have had to leave their homes – in a pandemic no less! Simply put, this is not the time to ramrod through changes.