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Group begins series of seminars

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By Roger Snodgrass

SANTA FE – Laboratory nemesis Los Alamos Study Group opened a new series of public meetings this week with breakfast seminars at churches in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Meeting at the United Church in Santa Fe, the group’s executive director Greg Mello said Thursday morning that the convergence of environmental, political and economic risks demands an extraordinary response.The theme of the seminars, which are planned weekly through the rest of the fall and winter, is “Dimensions of the Global Crisis: Responses and Renewal.”“Of course, we will emphasize nuclear policy, New Mexico, and we ourselves as actors and participants,” said Mello to a small group of people.The first week’s topic was, “Los Alamos in Crisis – the Decline and Fall of a Nuclear Weapons Laboratory.”“We are living in a catastrophe involving the environment of our planet,” he said. “This is a very unique and troubling historic moment that has possibilities of social, political and moral renewal.”Within the larger picture of global warming and widening wars over scarce resources and the local economic crisis involving the nuclear laboratories, he said, “We are in an emergency. That’s why we thought we would meet every week now.”The changes that are coming to the New Mexico laboratories are neither clear nor simple, Mello said. He included the stalled energy and water appropriation bill that funds the Department of Energy, fears of jobs cuts, privatization and larger transformational efforts that may realign priorities at the nuclear weapons laboratories.Key issues at the laboratory, like the degree to which plutonium pit manufacturing and weapons work will predominate, were also discussed.“The safety issues have by no means been resolved,” Mello said, referring to the recent suspension of most activities at the Plutonium Facility.“These organizations are looking for something that keeps their names in the news in order to promote their agenda,” said Earl Meyer, a retired physicist in Los Alamos, this morning. “All these negative articles hurt the lab.”Asked if he agreed that there was a global crisis, he said, “I don’t like the way things are going, I’ll tell you that. I think a lot of it is manufactured.”On whether the laboratory was about to become another Rocky Flats – the former location for plutonium pit production, Meyer said, “Rocky Flats was very bad. There were mistakes.” But, he added the laboratory played a prominent role in helping to clean it up.Mello said that the idea for early morning meetings grew partly out of a colleague’s observation that people at after work and evening meetings “just want to be entertained.” It was also the preferred time for members of the Mennonite Church, where the group is meeting in Albuquerque on Wednesdays.The general plan is to alternate each week between factual presentations of issues of concern one week and strategizing about political responses the next.