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Consortium wins contract to run Livermore lab

The partnership, which is given a seven-year deal, includes the UC system, which has long run the facility.

May 09, 2007|Ralph Vartabedian | Times Staff Writer

The Energy Department on Tuesday awarded a seven-year contract to operate Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to an industry consortium that includes the University of California, which has run the lab since it opened in 1952.

This year the lab was selected by the Energy Department to design and develop a new generation of nuclear bombs, known as the reliable replacement warhead. A report by an independent group of scientists warned that the project faced serious technical challenges.

The management consortium, Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, was selected to run the Livermore lab over a competing group led by Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. Energy Department officials said the consortium submitted a superior proposal and a lower bid.

Under the new contract, the team, which includes Bechtel National Inc., BWX Technologies Inc. and Washington Group International Inc., would receive $297.5 million over the seven-year contract. The consortium also includes Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University and several small businesses.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 16, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
Hunger strike: A May 9 article in Section A about the awarding of a contract to operate Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said three students and alumni at UC campuses in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Berkeley were on a hunger strike to protest the university's involvement in nuclear weapons. Student organizers say the strike began with 30 participants and has since grown to about 40.

The University of California's contract to operate Livermore was put up for bid after Congress grew concerned about the management of another facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has been shaken by a series of security and safety lapses over the last decade. The Livermore lab escaped much of the criticism but was included in the requirement for a contract competition.

The consortium is nearly identical to the group that took over Los Alamos, though the relative shares that each member has in the corporation is different. At Livermore, the University of California controls half of the six-member board, said Gerald L. Parsky, chairman of the consortium's board.

Another bid was submitted by a group calling itself Green LLC, which consisted of two nuclear watchdog groups, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. Energy Department officials said Green's proposal to transform the lab into a "center for civilian science" was not responsive to the government's request.

Meanwhile, three students and alumni at UC campuses in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Berkeley went on hunger strikes this week to protest the involvement of the university system in designing nuclear weapons.

Energy Department officials dismissed their demands.

"We urge students participating in this action to cease the strike and to eat," said Chris Harrington, a UC spokesman.

*

ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com

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