Swalwell, California Representatives Call for Infrastructure Improvements at Livermore Labs

LIVERMORE, CA – September 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) led a bipartisan group of California Members of Congress in sending a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz requesting funding for critical upgrades at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL). Upgrades include creating a permanent Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and fixing aging electrical systems, which would also benefit Sandia National Laboratory.

“It’s unsafe and cheap research papers unacceptable that for over a decade, the LLNL Emergency Operations Center, which is responsible for responding to on-site emergencies at one of the most high-tech labs in the country, has been housed in a ‘temporary space’ that is not even up to code,” said Swalwell. “A new site is necessary, particularly one that dispatches services in the case of fires, earthquakes, and others emergencies across Alameda County. Thankfully, colleagues across the state are stepping up and joining me to highlight to Secretary Moniz the necessity of upgraded infrastructure at two of the most important DOE laboratories in the country.

The EOC handles emergency response and disaster preparedness at the lab, but has been in a temporary space since 2002. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reported last year that it may not even be safe during a catastrophic event. A new EOC would also be able to house the Alameda County Fire Department dispatch center, which is currently in a separate building. The dispatch center processes about 200,000 emergency calls each year and coordinates some state-wide disaster relief efforts.

“Alameda County appreciates this bipartisan letter led by Representative Swalwell requesting funding for a new Emergency Operations Center at LLNL,” said Alameda County Board President Scott Haggerty. “A new site would house the County Regional Emergency Communications Center and a regional dispatch center that would provide coordination for mutual aid resources during catastrophic events, not only in the County but also to and from northern and central California.”

Swalwell represents the Livermore Labs and is a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

The signatories on the letter are Reps. Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Michael M. Honda (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), and Ted Lieu (CA-33).

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Moniz:

We write to urge you to include funding requests for two important projects – a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and electrical infrastructure upgrades to support LLNL and at the nearby California campus of Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-CA) – in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.

LLNL and Sandia are primarily responsible with ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of our nation’s nuclear deterrent. They also work on other important issues ranging from nuclear proliferation and terrorism to energy shortages and climate change, all of which threaten national security and global stability. It is critical that we have the support and modern infrastructure in place to allow their hard-working employees to complete their missions and be kept safe.

One safety project for which we are requesting DOE ask for funds is a new EOC at LLNL. The current EOC is home to LLNL’s Emergency Management Department, which is responsible for fire department services, administration of its comprehensive emergency management system, and facilitating site-wide disaster preparedness, to name just a few of its roles. Despite its many and varied duties, the EOC is housed on the second floor of a 30 year-old building on LLNL’s campus meant only to be a temporary home, yet it has been there since 2002. There is an insufficient amount of space, and it is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Perhaps most troubling, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reported to you in September 2014 that the current EOC may not be safe during a catastrophic event, just when it would be needed the most.

A new EOC would correct these serious difficulties and also have space to locate within it the Alameda County Regional Emergency Communications Center (ACRECC), which processes about 200,000 emergency calls per year for LLNL and Alameda County. ACRECC also is the Region II Dispatch Center for the State of California and thus provides emergency coordination for mutual aid resources sent to and from northern and central California jurisdictions during catastrophic events such as floods, fires, and earthquakes. Currently it operates on LLNL’s campus in an old building which fails to provide sufficient space to support a regional dispatch center.

A second project needed to improve safety and support mission execution is an upgrade to certain electrical systems at LLNL. Current systems are insufficient to provide reliable power, allow for continued operations in parts of LLNL and the entire SNL-CA campus in the event of certain single-point power line failures, accommodate planned, mission-critical growth in high performance computing at LLNL, or to serve planned facilities in the developing Livermore Valley Open Campus. Proposed upgrades would address these problems.

In view of these significant needs, the National Nuclear Security Administration has established two line item projects: Project 15-D-612, Emergency Operations Center, LLNL and Project 17-D-622, Electrical Infrastructure Upgrades, LLNL. DOE’s FY 2016 budget request did not include funding for either project for FY 2016 but did identify $20 million to be included in FY 2017 for Project 15-D-612 and $23 million to be included in FY 2017 for Project 17-D-622.

These two projects would directly support the safety and mission of LLNL, as well as work at neighboring SNL-CA, and benefit emergency operations throughout Alameda County and all of California. Both projects have been in the planning phase for more than a year, and, despite delays in funding, LLNL has held the line on scope and cost for each.

In light of these conditions, when you are preparing DOE’s FY 2017 budget request to Congress, we strongly encourage you to follow through on the commitments identified in this year’s budget request and ask for funding for both of these important infrastructure projects for FY 2017. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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