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Posted: 2/3/2006 9:25:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/3/2006 10:24:13 AM EDT by deez]
In today's sfgate.com...wow

link to article + PICS!

POTENT FIREPOWER FOR WEAPONS LAB
Modern Gatling guns to defend against land, air terrorist attack
Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Friday, February 3, 2006

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to install high-powered machine guns over the next few months capable of hitting land vehicles or aircraft almost a mile away in the event of a terrorist attack.

Known as Gatling guns because they are multi-barreled, like their 19th-century ancestors, they simultaneously fire 7.62mm bullets from six barrels at up to 4,000 rounds per minute, powerful enough to take down an enemy aircraft or helicopter, officials said.

The guns will give the nuclear weapons lab greater ability to guard its huge cache of radioactive plutonium, said Linton Brooks, head of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, a quasi-independent agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons complex for the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency ordered the weapons.

"A lot of people are willing to die if they can kill lots of Americans ... You want to make clear that when they come here to die (by attacking the lab), they die for a failure," the blunt-speaking Brooks said at a press conference at Livermore on Thursday, where he unveiled one of the guns.

He said the guns will be operational later this year after the lab's guards are trained and the weapons and related equipment are purchased. Brooks insisted the Gatling gun purchase is unrelated to a recent announcement that the lab might double its supply of plutonium.

Lab officials said several Gatling guns will be deployed at the lab, some mounted on vehicles and others at undisclosed fixed locations, but for security reasons declined to say exactly how many or when.

Manufactured by Dillon Aero of Scottsdale, Ariz., the guns cost between $50,000 and $75,000, depending on accessories, and can unleash their barrage of bullets up to 1,500 meters or nearly a mile away.

Each gun gives Lawrence Livermore firepower equivalent to a dozen guards armed with the high-powered rifles they currently carry, said Robert Claire, the lab's armorer -- the man in charge of its anti-terrorist weaponry.

Officials said, however, there are no plans to reduce the lab's security force, employed by Lawrence Livermore and UC, which runs the lab under contract with the Energy Department.

Lab spokesperson David Schwoegler said the plan to equip the lab with the high-tech guns has been "closely coordinated with all local and federal law enforcement agencies." Officials for the city of Livermore could not be reached late Thursday.

But a lab critic called the plan a threat to innocent men, women and children, particularly with the lab being across the street from suburban homes. A better solution would be to investigate ways to remove the plutonium and other weapons-grade nuclear materials from the lab altogether, said Marylia Kelley, head of Tri Valley Cares, a Livermore anti-nuclear group.

"There are residential homes all up and down what is the western perimeter of Livermore lab," Kelley said. "You always see children on their bicycles or skateboards ... people walking their dogs ... You can't just indiscriminately open fire."

Until now, the most lethal weapons known to be used by the lab's notoriously no-nonsense guards are the big, black high-powered rifles they display prominently at its several gates. Schwoegler said the guards, whom he numbered at a couple of hundred, will be thoroughly trained in the use of the new weapons.

The Gatling gun was introduced during the Civil War but saw limited action. It played a more prominent wartime role a few years later, giving U.S. troops enormous advantages in firepower in their fight against western Indians. The hand-cranked weapon, named for its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, fired 100 rounds per minute.

Gatling hoped the gun could "enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred" and thereby would "supersede the necessity of large armies," according to an online site operated by American Heritage.

Livermore lab is one of the nation's two nuclear weapons design labs, where, among other things, scientists study plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. To carry out this task, the lab stores plutonium for research at a site called Building 332.

Conceivably, terrorists might wish to attack the lab either to steal plutonium, which they could then convert into their own bombs, or to blow up the plutonium storage building to spread radioactive material over a densely inhabited area.

Brooks acknowledged that "if somebody wants to drive an aircraft into a building, you can't prevent that." But in the event of a "military-style" terrorist attack either from a ground vehicle or an aircraft, Livermore needs to have this kind of super-armament "to leave no doubt about the outcome," he said.

"You don't want half of (the terrorists) killed and half of your (Livermore) guys killed, then say, 'We won.' "

Rather, he said, lab officials want to ensure that in such a violent encounter, lab security guards can quell the invasion immediately without any Livermore staff losses.

In November, the Energy Department authorized the lab to increase its amount of stored plutonium to an amount exceeding 3,000 pounds -- enough for as many as about 300 nuclear bombs.

The authorization came three months after an advisory panel to the department urged the lab to ship almost all of its nuclear bomb materials -- estimated to be as much as 1,540 pounds worth -- to a remote, safer site because of the growing suburbanization of the Livermore area to prevent a potential terrorist attack.

On Thursday, Brooks said he hadn't decided whether to increase the amount of plutonium stored at the lab. He defended the lab's continuing research on plutonium as essential to ensure that U.S. weapons scientists understand better what he characterized as the "nasty, ugly, complicated stuff with a metallurgy I don't pretend to understand."

Over the years, federal officials have repeatedly worried about security standards at Lawrence Livermore and other labs in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. In February 2004, an intruder managed to drive a truck inside the Livermore site security perimeter. During the incident guards failed to activate recently installed pop-up barriers, according to a report six months later by the Energy Department's inspector general.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawrence Livermore's new protection
M134 Gatling gun

Length: 31.5 inches

Width: 12 inches

Weight (without ammo): Steel, 29.1 lbs., Titanium, 20.8 lbs.

Range: 0.93 mile, (1,500 meters)

Firing rate: Up to 4,000 rounds per minute

7.62 mm x 51 mm "NATO" round

Source: Federation of American Scientists

E-mail Keay Davidson at kdavidson@sfchronicle.com.

ETA: link to article
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 9:59:45 AM EDT
Well, it figures that the moonbats would whine about anything at the Lab. Yes, it's close to a semi-residential area, but the buildings with all of the good stuff are quite a ways off the beaten path. I seriously doubt that you're going to see HMMWVs with the GAUs in ring mounts patrolling the fenceline, but you will see them around the buildings that need the extra security.
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 10:08:07 AM EDT
Those guns on the "list"?
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 10:15:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By deez:
the big, black high-powered rifles




They left out evil....
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 10:52:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By smokeybehr:
Well, it figures that the moonbats would whine about anything at the Lab. Yes, it's close to a semi-residential area, but the buildings with all of the good stuff are quite a ways off the beaten path. I seriously doubt that you're going to see HMMWVs with the GAUs in ring mounts patrolling the fenceline, but you will see them around the buildings that need the extra security.



I have often wondered about their security. You see plenty, it's the stuff you don't see that I wondered about. They definitely do need to keep that place secure, the stuff that goes on there is very important.

I live in Livermore. It's not just close to a "semi-residential area", (wth is that?). It's across the street from a regular old subdivision that's been there for 15-20 years, maybe more. And as to any lab property being quite a ways off the beaten path, ummm, no. The whole property is in town. True that it is the edge of town, and only borders residential areas on the west side. But borders industrial zones on the other three sides. I'm not bitching about the increased security, just wondering what the plan is for a minigun in town.

Now if they are referring to the Site 300 facility, then everything I said is wrong. That's where they do the ordnance testing. That site is way out of town.
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 11:05:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By evilyoda:
Those guns on the "list"?



The crank model is legal
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 11:59:05 AM EDT
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 7:15:57 PM EDT
^ That's because the people are stupid... now, where do i apply to be a security officer for the lab?!
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 9:04:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Paul:
Wait the people are more worried about the mini-guns than they are the massive amounts of fissionable plutonium?




LOL! Yeah. We got used to the gentle glow long ago. It's kind of romantic.

Seriously, they found plutonium in a public park a mile or so away from the front gates here a few years back.

That story disappeared from the local papers REALLY quick.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 11:39:06 AM EDT
lol, i live in their fire arc:p bah, seriously, who cares... i know quite a few of the security force out there... i trust them,(i dont know them all but i can speak for the 30 or so i know) with my life.

i dont know if i really like the idea of them getting miniguns, i think its excesive. but i would rather them be more secure than not.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:34:24 PM EDT
What a waste of money!
Would be better to mount them near the borders instead.
Link Posted: 2/5/2006 8:11:08 AM EDT
Why do DOE rent-a-cops need "gatling guns" again? Why to they want to engage targets 1,500 meters outside their perimeter again?
Link Posted: 2/5/2006 8:16:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Paul:
Wait the people are more worried about the mini-guns than they are the massive amounts of fissionable plutonium?




Yes, because its more likely that a federaly employed security guard will open up on the arab immigrant operated roach coach on the other side of town that the plutonium will be stolen and used as a weapon.

DOE has traditionally used short range weapons like 9mm & 5.56mm SBRs. Now they appear to want anti-aircraft and anti-vehicle weapons for use in a "no fly zone."
Link Posted: 2/5/2006 8:18:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By NightWolf:
now, where do i apply to be a security officer for the lab?!



Well its a federal security guard job, like the TSA. Do DOE rent-a-cops even go through FLETC like FBI & BATF agents?
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