- UTNukeFree.org Press Release -
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Contact: Austin Van Zant, 512-232-5540
Statewide Coalition UTNukeFree.org to Host Forums and Workshops on UT, A&M Campuses regarding Los Alamos National Laboratory
Starting on Thursday, August 5, the statewide coalition UTNukeFree.org will kick off a weeklong series of forums, luncheons, and workshops around Texas regarding possible bids by the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems for management of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Los Alamos is the birthplace of the atomic bomb, and could be the site for the planned production of new nuclear weapons.
Various UT and A&M students, alumni, faculty, peace and religious organizations, community members, and other concerned citizens of Texas have joined together to organize events around Texas. UTNukeFree.org has organized events in Houston (7:30-9:30 pm on Aug. 5th and 12-2 pm on 6th), College Station (7-9 pm on Aug. 6th), San Antonio (1-5 pm on Aug. 7th), Austin (2-8:30 pm Aug. 8th), Arlington (12-2 pm on Aug. 9th), and Dallas (7:30-9:30 pm on Aug. 9th), mostly on UT and A&M campuses. On Saturday, August 7th, UT-Austin-based UT Watch will give a presentation on Los Alamos and UT at an event in Amarillo organized by the Peace Farm.
Julie Enszer, Executive Director of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), will speak at the forums and workshops organized by UTNukeFree.org on national policies regarding nuclear weapons. NPRI was established to educate the American public on the profound medical, environmental, political and moral consequences of perpetuating nuclear weapons, power and waste.
"Ethically and morally, we should all be opposed to the university getting into the business of managing the building of nuclear weapons - the primary mission of Los Alamos National Laboratory," says Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), who is opposed to UT's potential bid for Los Alamos.
These events come on the heels of a series of events that temporarily shut down Los Alamos within the past month. Lab director G. Peter Nanos first ordered the classified division closed after it was discovered that two removable media disks that contained highly classified information were missing. On July 16, after a 20-year old intern was hit in the eye with a laser in a freak accident, Nanos sent a letter to 12,000 Los Alamos employees stating that the lab was temporarily closing and that the Department of Energy - who mainly funds the lab - may move some of their sensitive work to other DOE facilities. Days later, the lab found that 17 classified e-mails were sent over the Internet, prompting DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham to ask, "Who knows who could have intercepted [them]?"
"I don't understand why UT is still interested in managing this laboratory," says UT Watch member and Sociology senior Pedro de la Torre. "Pete Nanos has talked about an unruly ‘cowboy culture' at the lab, and I don't believe that UT has the means to fix its problems. Los Alamos is riddled with liabilities, and I'm afraid that managing it would have adverse affects on the University. There are better ways to boost prestige and improve our science and engineering programs."
UT Watch and Iconmedia will host workshops on UT's interests in Los Alamos before an address by keynote speaker Julie Enszer on Sunday, August 8th, from 2-5 pm at the University Teaching Center (UTC 2.102) on the UT-Austin campus. From 6:30 pm until dusk, the Austin Center for Peace and Justice will host its annual interfaith Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration Ceremony at Town Lake. A picnic will take place in The Peace Grove, followed by the ceremony at Lou Neff Point; both of which are located in the northeastern section of Zilker Park.