Lab donates heavy-duty time capsule

The container, which was designed to hold
radioactive parts of Russian nuclear weapons,
will be part of the city's 'millennium project'

By Sam Richards

LIVERMORE --- However long the artifacts of Livermore's history remain buried, they should be safe from any conceivable threat. Sandia/California National Laboratories has given the city a lab-designed cask --- created to contain radioactive parts of dismantled Russian nuclear weapons --- for use as a time capsule. Barry Schrader, Sandia spokesman, and Tim Sage, chairman of the Livermore Heritage Guild, presented the cask to the City Council this week.

The empty cask, which looks like a large beer keg, weighs more than 140 pounds. Although more than 25,000 of these containers have been provided to Russia for storing old nuclear weapons, the Livermore time capsule could be buried with mementos of rodeos, a bottle of red wine student essays and other relics of Livermore life in the 20th century.

The details of what Mayor Cathie Brown calls the "millennium project" have yet to be worked out. But she and Sage said they envision including some students' essays and having the Heritage Guild put together a capsule that would be opened in 100 years. Sage said one idea is to bury it near the peace monument near the Livermore main library.

We're open to suggestions, but I'm assuming we'll put in some historical things and some things from the present," Sage said. The guild will wait for further guidance from the city before helping organize the project. Schrader said Sandia is burying its own time capsule in November as part of the lab's 50th anniversary celebration, and that it was the lab's idea to present a similar cask to the city.

Although Brown was the only council member who knew ahead of time of the cask presentation, she was surprised by the appearance of Evgeny Avrorin, scientific director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Snezhinsk, Livermore's sister city in Russia.

Through an interpreter, Avrorin made a brief presentation and renewed acquaintance with Brown, who traveled last year to Snezhinsk and apparently made quite an impression on the local populace. "Cathie Brown charmed the entire population of Snezhinsk, and little kids are still asking when the friendly and merry American lady will come again," Avrorin's interpreter said, eliciting hearty laughter from the council audience.

TUESDAY February 16,1999


March 20, 2000