The Questionable History of Lawrence Livermore National Labs

Here is the self-described Lawrence Livermore lab from the wiki.

"LLNL is self-described as "a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security."[1] Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

"LLNL is home to many unique facilities and a number of the most powerful computer systems in the world, according to the TOP500 list, including Blue Gene/L, the world's fastest computer from 2004 until Los Alamos National Laboratory's IBM Roadrunner supercomputer surpassed it in 2008. The Lab is a leader in technical innovation: since 1978, LLNL has received a total of 118 prestigious R&D 100 Awards, including five in 2007.[2] The awards are given annually by the editors of R&D Magazine to the most innovative ideas of the year.

"The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore, California. It also operates a 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main Lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about US$1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 7,000 employees.

(Click here for LLNL's sponsors page

That looks like nukes and supercomputers. Sure enough, in 2007 there was news of embarking on making an entire new US nuclear arsenal, replacing the old one. In March of 2007, the NY Times reported in the article, New Design for Warhead Is Awarded to Livermore:

"The Bush administration announced yesterday the winner of a competition to design the nation’s first new nuclear weapon in nearly two decades and immediately set out to reassure Russia and China that the weapon, if built, would pose no new threat to either nation.

"If President Bush decides to authorize production and Congress agrees, the research could lead to a long, expensive process to replace all American nuclear warheads in the next few decades with new designs. "...

Which also brings us to May of 2007, when the NY Times tells us of LLNL falling under an umbrella with Los Alamos and Sandia (labs), the "National Nuclear Security Administration". (wiki).

And here are some of LLNL's "Other Programs" from the same wiki entry at top:

"LLNL supports capabilities in a broad range of scientific and technical disciplines, applying current capabilities to existing programs and developing new science and technologies to meet future national needs.

  • The LLNL chemistry, materials, and life science research focuses on chemical engineering, nuclear chemistry, materials science, and biology and bio-nanotechnology.
  • Physics thrust areas include condensed matter and high-pressure physics, optical science and high-energy-density physics, medical physics and biophysics, and nuclear particle and accelerator physics.
  • In the area of energy and environmental science, Livermore’s emphasis is on carbon and climate, energy, water and the environment, and the national nuclear waste repository.
  • The LLNL engineering activities include micro- and nanotechnology, lasers and optics, biotechnology, precision engineering, nondestructive characterization, modeling and simulation, systems and decision science, and sensors, imaging and communications.
  • The LLNL is very strong in computer science, with thrust areas in computing applications and research, integrated computing and communications systems, and cyber security.

"Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has worked out several energy technologies in the field of coal gasification, shale oil extraction, geothermal energy, advanced battery research, solar energy, and fusion energy. Main oil shale processing technologies worked out by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are LLNL HRS (hot-recycled-solid), LLNL RISE (in situ extraction technology) and LLNL radiofrequency technologies.[29]"

Looking at the above, it occurs to me that LLNL does so much more than nuclear weapons. Perhaps we should consider all three nuclear weapons labs as their own special bunch, covering a wide variety of new and sophisticated technologies. For example, there is nanotechnology, as written about for these labs in January of 2005:

Military Reloads with Nanotech Jan 21, 2005

"Smaller. Cheaper. Nastier. Those are the guiding principles behind the military's latest bombs. The secret ingredient: nanotechnology that makes for a bigger boom.

"Nanotechnology is grabbing headlines for its potential in advancing the life sciences and computing research, but the Department of Defense (DoD) found another use: a new class of weaponry that uses energy-packed nanometals to create powerful, compact bombs.

"With funding from the U.S. government, Sandia National Laboratories, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are researching how to manipulate the flow of energy within and between molecules, a field known as nanoenergentics, which enables building more lethal weapons such as "cave-buster bombs" that have several times the detonation force of conventional bombs such as the "daisy cutter" or MOAB (mother of all bombs).

"Researchers can greatly increase the power of weapons by adding materials known as superthermites that combine nanometals such as nanoaluminum with metal oxides such as iron oxide, according to Steven Son, a project leader in the Explosives Science and Technology group at Los Alamos. "...

(For more of a history on this technology, see here: 911review)

Looking below, one might sooner suggest that we need to be careful with these guys. Let's take a look at what a quick googling shows, just wondering if they run a tight ship.

Livermore Lab Slammed for Sloppy Management of Dangerous Drugs Feb 17, 2011

(Regarding the 7000 East Ave , Livermore , CA facility):
"Inattentive management practices at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory could lead to the misuse and theft of heroin, cocaine and other controlled substances used in research at the Livermore-based facility, according to a report from the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General.

"The report issued Feb. 10 found lax oversight of inventory and handling procedures for 42 controlled substances used in bio-medical research and forensic science. The substances include black tar heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (angel dust) and steroids.

"No direct evidence of lost or stolen drugs was found during an on-site inspection. But, federal inspectors found lab personnel could not accurately account for the quantities of at least six of 33 controlled substances received, stored and used by its analytical lab."...

PRC Theft of U.S. Nuclear Warhead Design Information
(Note: PRC means "People's Republic of China")

"The Select Committee received information about the U.S. Governmentís investigation of the PRCís theft of classified U.S. design information for the W-70 thermonuclear warhead. The W-70, which is an enhanced radiation nuclear warhead (or "neutron bomb"), also has elements that can be used for a strategic thermonuclear warhead. In 1996 the U.S. Intelligence Community reported that the PRC had successfully stolen classified U.S. technology from a U.S. Nuclear Weapons Laboratory about the neutron bomb.

"This was not the first time the PRC had stolen classified U.S. information about the neutron bomb. In the late 1970s, the PRC stole design information on the U.S. W-70 warhead from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The U.S. Government first learned of this theft several months after it took place. The PRC subsequently tested a neutron bomb in 1988."...

Data Theft at Nuclear Agency Went Unreported for 9 Months June 10, 2008

"WASHINGTON, June 9 — A computer hacker stole sensitive information on 1,500 people working for the nuclear-weapons unit of the Energy Department, but neither the theft victims nor high officials were notified for nine months, administration officials acknowledged on Friday at a Congressional hearing.

"The theft, at a National Nuclear Security Administration center in Albuquerque, involved names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and information on where the people worked and their security clearances.

"The leak, on the heels of a much larger breach in the Veterans Affairs Department, is sure to raise new alarms about government's cybersecurity and may provide Democrats more grist to attack the competence of the Bush administration."...

On various levels, I'm not so sure how comfortable I am with these national nuclear labs. They seem to like to say they are about deterrence and preventing terrorism, but how do we stop them from making what bad people steal from them?

- Mark G. Meyers

One other side ...

re: Govt weapons lab - Lawrence Livermore, 2006

"Manuel Garcia, a government weapons scientist, has gone to bat for the official narrative of the collapses of the World Trade Center towers "...

Go figure!