Vigiler handcuffed at Livermore Lab protest

photo by Barry Binks

photo by Barry Binks

On January 6, the monthly Catholic Worker vigil at the Livermore nuclear weapons lab in California was joined by members of Tri-Valley CAREs, the local nuclear abolitionist group that keeps a critical eye on activity at Livermore.

The particular focus of the January vigil was to oppose the planned use of plutonium in the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a big-budget science project long trumpeted to advance research on fusion energy. But in December, the lab made a sudden announcement that plutonium experiments would begin at NIF in January, bringing the project back to its stealth roots as an advanced nuclear weapons engineering enterprise. The lab is preparing to conduct at least ten experiments this year zapping plutonium with lasers in NIF, and vaporizing the radioactive metal. According to documents Tri-Valley CAREs obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there will be no inner containment vessel to effectively capture the debris.

As vigilers began to hand out leaflets drawing attention to the “Bad Idea: Plutonium in the NIF”, Livermore Lab security personnel, backed by the Alameda County Sheriffs Department, opted to close the East Gate and turn away the steady stream of lab employees coming in to work.

Police accosted three leafletters on the road just outside the gatehouse. Marcus Page-Collogne and Fr. Louis Vitale were escorted back across the boundary line, while Chelsea Collogne was handcuffed, threatened with prosecution, and then released a short time later without charge.

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