President Trump has requested an increase in the federal budget for the nuclear weapons stockpile. Further, his budget request would reduce funds for science, environmental cleanup and other programs that meet human needs.
With the coronavirus crisis that has shaken our country, it is clear that we need more civilian science and infrastructure, not new weapons of nuclear destruction. Rather than building weapons at the expense of everything else, the U.S. should meet its security goals with fewer warheads and more funding for programs that actually make us safer, such as education, science, healthcare systems and environmental protection.
With this in mind, it looks like the Administration's budget request for fiscal 2021 has its priorities backwards.
One example can be found in the proposed funding for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The overall funding request for LLNL is more than $2 billion, up 7% from last year. But the budget for science at the lab would shrink in fiscal 2021 to 1.7% of the total funding ($36 million).
And funding to safely decommission and decontaminate LLNL’s high-risk buildings would go all the way to zero ($0). Trump’s budget request takes $109 million that had been allocated to keep these buildings from emitting toxic and radioactive pollutants and it gives it instead to new weapons programs.
Among LLNL’s contaminated buildings in dire need of fixing is an abandoned reactor with cracks in the shielding and walls that can be seen with the naked eye. This building is visible from Vasco Road. LLNL workers are all around it and families live right across the street.
LLNL has four of the top 10 most serious high-risk facilities in the nation at its main site. It also has another high-risk facility at Site 300 near Tracy, California. Tri-Valley CAREs members have raised the alarm locally and in Washington, D.C., about these abandoned buildings and the complexity of this matter.
It is sad to see that our community is forgotten, workers and the public are put at risk, and our tax money is going towards harmful nuclear weapons rather than cleaning up the contaminants that have been left in place carelessly throughout the years. I stand for more funding at LLNL for civilian science and environmental cleanup. The coronavirus pandemic should be a wake-up call for all of us. I invite LLNL workers and the community to stand with me.