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"Forget the Rest" blog
July 15, 2004 by fax to 505-667-0365

Mr. Patrick Woehrle, Office Leader
Government Relations Office
Los Alamos National Laboratory
P.O. Box 1663, Mail Stop A103
Los Alamos, NM 87545

Re: Panel Discussion, Fuller Lodge, evening of August 5

Dear Mr. Woehrle -

After the citizen inspections on August 5, the Study Group will be conducting a panel discussion at Fuller Lodge at 6:00, on the subject of "Plutonium Pit Production in Los Alamos: Issues and Prospects." I've placed calls to associate directors Richard Mah and John Immele, in the hopes that they or someone from their offices could join this panel to provide an update on pit production and pit certification, respectively. John is out of the office on family business. Richard was also out of town; I am waiting for responses from both these offices. I thought you might want to be kept abreast of these developments and you may be able to assist in them.

Since 1989, the Study Group has held many public discussions at Fuller Lodge and elsewhere in Los Alamos, some of which have been well-attended and popular. All have been useful. We attempted to organize a discussion on the above topic last year; former nuclear materials technology program director Paul Cunningham was willing to moderate, but Los Alamos refused to participate, so we cancelled the event. Perhaps this year's response will be different. The panel will go forward with or without the lab's presence. If cognizant program staff can't or won't come, would you?

Many people have observed that over recent years, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has become more and more closed, and more and more unwilling to discuss its policies and programs in any kind of forum, public or private. The Study Group has been denied numerous requests for discussions, both open an closed, a record that extends back long before September 11, 2001, although such discussions were not infrequent in the early 1990s. Combined with a near-total absence of substantive scientific and program information on the LANL web site, and an impressive record of non-delivery of documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to this requester at least, LANL seems to have drawn up the portcullis and settled into a permanent siege mentality. I don't know if this near-complete breakdown of genuine (as opposed to contrived) communication concerns or even interests you, or whether you have thought about how it might be affecting the quality of science, programmatic work, and culture at LANL - or even the prospects of continuing the current operating contract. It may be worth a little thought.

I am looking forward to discussing with you and Senator Bingaman's staff the issues raised in your recent letter, faxed to me on July 9. The idea of supervised citizens accompanied by LANL security guards causing security problems at LANL is puzzling. You may know that we have conducted such tours with LANL's permission since 9/11/01 as well as before. LANL has a number of genuine - even serious - security problems. Citizens seeking principled discussion on important LANL programs are surely not among them.


Greg Mello, Director

cc: Helen Dorado-Gray

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