Activist to begin hunger strike

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LANL: Fast will start on Trinity Blast anniversary July 16

Peace activist Alaric Balibrera of Santa Fe expects to begin a hunger strike on Monday. July 16 is the anniversary of the first atomic bomb test in 1945 at the Trinity Site.

Balibrera says his hunger strike is intended as a call for the transformation of the scientific work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a transformation from being injurious to humanity to being constructive.

Before Balibrera begins his strike, he plans to speak with New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and LANL Director Charles McMillan.

Lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said that he was unaware that Balibrera had tried to contact McMillan.

Balibrera, who grew up in Los Alamos where his father made films about the Manhattan Project at LANL, has chosen a hunger strike because he wants, as he says, “to raise (his) little human voice into a voice that can be heard and will in no way be destructive.”  He says, “The time is ripe to question how we are using our limited resources. It’s completely essential to allocate our resources in a life-sustaining way.”

Balibrera points out that the goals of science can be transformed because of nanotechnology and new developments in genetics. Through nanotechnology scientists could neutralize the toxicity of nuclear waste and address the health and safety of the planet.

So far, 20 other individuals, from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, are expected to join the hunger strike.

The hunger strike is associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorative events taking place Aug. 4-6 in Santa Fe and Los Alamos and organized by Occupy Santa Fe, Pax Christi New Mexico, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Veterans for Peace Santa Fe, and (un)Occupy Albuquerque.

Balibrera said, “We need a transformation from thinking that we are all separate and have to compete against each other to get what we want.  Quantum physics has shown us that we’re all connected.  Because of the insights of quantum physics, we can still pursue science, but we must have a new attitude, that ‘what’s good for that person is good for me as well.”

Here are some of the demands set by Balbrera that deal with LANL.

• “We call for a meeting with our Congressional representatives, and with LANL Director Charles McMillan to share our concerns and our commitment to progressively transform all nuclear weapons work at LANL to clean-up, remediation, and other life-affirming sciences.”

• “Due to violations of seismic safety at LANL, repetitive and ongoing threat of large-scale tragedy by fire, and the presence of contamination in our drinking water, we call for the permanent cancellation of all plans to build the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility and a moratorium on all work that employs plutonium or other Special Nuclear Materials.”

• “We demand LANL’s compliance with the New Mexico Environment Department’s Consent Order of 2005 that requires the closure of Technical Area G where 42,000 barrels of radioactive wastes are stored in fabric tents less than a mile from the town of White Rock.”

For more information or to join the hunger strike, go to nukefreenow.org and click on Hunger Strike.