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plutonium airlift - public comments by Aug. 25

Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2000 04:30:12 -0500
From: Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout <cnp@web.net>
Subject: Action Alert, Plutonium (MOX) Shipments Due to be Sent from
 Russia this Fall

ACTION ALERT        Friday, August 4, 2000


Transport Canada has established a limited public comment process 
that is due to conclude on August 25, 2000. A press release follows 
below which provides additional information.

For background information on weapons plutonium fuel (MOX) see:


beginning July 28, ending August 25

AECL's Emergency Plan (ERAP) can be viewed at  http://www.tc.gc.ca

Your comments etc. can be sent by e-mail to Transport Canada at <mox@tc.gc.ca>


1. Please write Transport Canada asking
that the Comment Period be extended to

2. Please write President Clinton complaining
about the Americans PAYING to have this
stuff flown over CANADA when it would be
illegal in the US; also tell him how unacceptable
the plutonium import plan is to Canadians, and
about lack of democratic process:

          Bill Clinton
          United States of America
          Washington DC
          202-456 6703 (fax)

Plutonium is a powerful Nuclear Explosive.
It sealed the Fate of the City of Nagasaki Aug 9 1945.

             No Plutonium Imports
Do Not Commercialize Weapons Plutonium!
Keep It Out of Circulation! Immobilize It!

            Stop Plutonium Production
No more overseas sales of CANDU Reactors.
Phase Out Nuclear Power in Canada.

More on the Emergency Plans later.

Best wishes from Gordon Edwards for the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout (CNP)


Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout
campagne Contre l'expansion du nucléaire

Media Release
For release Wednesday, August 2, 2000


Ottawa - Citizens groups today charged that the federal government's 
plutonium airlift plan released last Friday continues to ignore 
widespread opposition along the flight path and proves that the 
government's position on plutonium imports is fundamentally dishonest.

"People want truth and fairness. We are calling on the Chrétien 
government to cancel the Russian weapons plutonium shipment 
altogether or, at the very least, to halt the shipment until 
independent public hearings have been held into the policy 
assumptions underlying the plutonium import scheme," said Kristen 
Ostling of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

On Friday, July 28th, apparently in reaction to the timing of a 
recent judicial review application initiated by citizens groups and 
First Nations,the Chrétien government publicly announced that weapons 
plutonium MOX fuel would be transported by air from Russia to Chalk 
River, Ontario. The announcement provides for a 28-day period of  public
comment on a revised AECL transportation emergency response  plan.

In the opinion of a number of citizens groups, the federal government 
has been dishonest and inconsistent in its message to the Canadian 
public about the MOX issue. Some examples follow:

-News reports quote the federal government as stating that air 
transport was chosen in accordance with suggestions made during 
public hearings last fall. However there were no public hearings last 
fall; there were only last-minute public-relations events hastily 
organized to counter a growing tide of public opposition to plutonium 
imports in Ontario.

Since then, municipalities have continued to pass resolutions against 
the plan. In Quebec, 155 municipalities have passed resolutions which 
explicitly object to the transportation of plutonium through Quebec 
by air as well as by land and sea.

"If Ottawa wants to respond to public suggestions," said Elizabeth 
May of the Sierra Club of Canada, "the overwhelming message is 
crystal clear: don't fly it, scrap it."

-In its November 1999 report, Transport Canada stated that "the 
material will not be flown" because a severe transportation accident 
"could result in the release of a heavy dust [which] has the 
potential for damage if inhaled." Noting that AECL would be using a 
Type B container (rather than a Type C container as required by US 
Law for air transport), Transport Canada was firm that the MOX test 
samples could not be flown: "Not until there were a container deemed 
safe enough to survive all credible airplane accidents."

Last Friday, however, a new Emergency Plan from AECL was posted, 
based on flying more than four times as much Russian military 
plutonium in a similar Type B container. It is now claimed that this 
container is perfectly safe and can withstand any credible accidents.

However, Dr. Ed Lyman, Scientific Director of the Washington-based 
Nuclear Control Institute states, "There is no credible scientific 
evidence that a Type B container can withstand an air crash." Dr. 
Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility 
also notes that a Type C container is still in the design stages. 
Moreover, according to a July 20, 2000 letter received by the 
Canadian Environmental Law Association on July 27th, from the 
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (formerly AECB), certification for 
the transport container lapsed some time ago.

-In its November 1999 report, Transport Canada stated five times that 
weapons plutonium "will not be flown", adding that "It is presently 
against both Canadian and United States law to fly the MOX test 
samples". Yet two months later, in January 2000, 120 grams of US 
weapons plutonium was air-lifted to Chalk River by helicopter.

-The "Parallex Project" was originally intended to lay the groundwork 
for a parallel, symmetric reduction in the excess weapons plutonium 
stockpiles of the USA and Russia. When the US announced earlier this 
year that they have no intention of sending any more plutonium to 
Canada, the stated rationale for the Parallex Project collapsed. Yet 
the Project still proceeds as if nothing has changed. "There is no 
parallelism anymore," said Kristen Ostling.

-The Chrétien government promotes the MOX scheme as a disarmament 
initiative. But the impetus for the idea of burning plutonium in 
reactors comes not from the peace and disarmament community, but from 
the nuclear power establishments of Russia, the US and Canada - all 
of whom would like to see their aging reactors running for another 25 

"Ottawa's position is not sound," said Dr. Edwards. "Using plutonium 
to fuel reactors doesn't eliminate the plutonium, and therefore 
offers no permanent solution to the security problem. Yet circulating 
plutonium in civilian society does make plutonium more accessible, 
thereby making clandestine bombs more likely."

Kristen Ostling said, "A much more sensible approach would be to 
phase out nuclear reactors, thereby halting the production of new 
plutonium, while taking the existing plutonium out of circulation 
permanently through immobilization. A responsible government would 
welcome debate on these issues," she added.

-In the original emergency plan, the routes were delineated and 
therefore the communities that could be impacted were identifiable. 
In the new plan, there are no routes delineated, no communities 
specified, consequently no identifiable communities that can be 
impacted. "We're concerned about all aspects of the planned plutonium 
import plan, including the resulting wastes which will remain in  Canada. 
Ottawa seems intent on denying Canadians their basic  democratic 
right to have specific input on decisions that may affect  their communities," 
said Lynn Jones of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew  County.

-The federal government has told Canadians that it is virtually 
impossible for plutonium to be released in a respirable form under 
any conceivable accident scenario. Yet the US Department of Energy, 
in a 1997 environmental assessment document, states:

"Two credible transportation accident scenarios were analyzed for the 
shipment of MOX fuel to the Canadian border . . . .

"The first accident relates to an event that leads to the MOX fuel 
package container breaking open, igniting, and releasing plutonium 
dioxide particles into the airŠ. The public is assumed to be near 
enough to the accident to breathe air contaminated with plutonium 

The report makes it clear that this scenario, while unlikely, has "a 
reasonable probability of occurrence". (Section 5.2 "MOX 
Transportation Accidents")

In the previous AECL Emergency Plan for ground transport, AECL 
identified 4 out of 8 categories of accidents where the container 
would be destroyed. But in the new plan, there are no specific 
accident scenarios at all.

Citizens groups note that the government has chosen the worst time of 
year for a 28-day period of public comment. "They could have done it 
earlier, as the Emergency Plan was ready in May. They could have done 
it later, simply by waiting until the weapons plutonium MOX fuel 
transport container had been certified by the regulatory agency. 
There is something distasteful about staging a public comment period 
when most people are not available for comment," said Gordon Edwards.

Theresa McClenaghan of the Canadian Environmental Law Association 
noted that, "the judicial review we launched for citizens groups in 
June played an important role in getting the government to reveal its 
plans to fly plutonium fuel from Russia. It is time now for the 
federal government to put the brakes on the project and subject its 
plutonium policy to serious public scrutiny."

- 30 -

For more information:

Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout, (613) 789-3634, cnp@web.net
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (514) 489-5118
Canadian Environmental Law Association (416) 960-2284

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