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March 22, 2000
For Immediate Release
Mary Olson, NIRS Southeast
Janet Zeller, BREDL
Kevin Kamps, NIRS National
Ed Arnold, PSR/Atlanta
Organizations Join Legal Challenge to U.S.
Nuclear Proliferation-Prone Plutonium Plan
On Tuesday, March 21, Blue Ridge
Environmental Defense League, Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Nuclear Information and
Resource Service joined the plaintiffs who sued
the US Department of Energy to stop a
U.S.-Russian-Canadian plan to use nuclear weapons
plutonium as fuel in nuclear power
reactors. Citing grave concerns about the
potential spread of plutonium for bombmaking
throughout the world, the lawsuit seeks to halt
an imminent test shipment of mixed oxide
plutonium fuel, or MOX, from being transported to
a test nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario
from the Russian Federation. The experiment
is part of a bigger scheme to use MOX as reactor
fuel in nuclear reactors in the Southeastern
United States, Canada and Russia.
The plan would legitimize the commercialization
and exportation of plutonium and may allow many
nations and even independent groups to develop
nuclear bomb capability.
The Chalk River test, named "Parallex,"
was first challenged in court last December when
plaintiffs in Michigan and Canada sued the U.S.
Department of Energy to halt shipment of the U.S.
MOX fuel from being trucked from New Mexico to
Ontario until there was a formal, public decision
making process over the environmental and nuclear
weapons proliferation impacts of the program.
Judge Richard Alan Enslen ruled that while the
Energy Department had acted in bad faith, courts
could not stop the Executive Branch from
conducting foreign policy.
The plaintiffs are asking the judge to reconsider
that decision, and NIRS, PSR and BREDL now join
Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical
Contamination, Mohawk Council of Akwasasne, the
Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians,
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, Northwatch,
the Canadian Council for Nuclear Responsibility,
and individuals in that request.
"The Department of Energy has already begun
to disregard the law and trample our
rights," said Janet Zeller, BREDL's
Executive Director. "People from across the
country must join together to block this reckless
and secretive program and insure that the DOE
obeys national and international law." BREDL
is campaigning against the planned use of MOX
fuel in six Southeastern U.S. reactors: Duke
Power's Catawba 1&2 near Rock Hill, South
Carolina; McGuire 1&2, near Charlotte, North
Carolina; and Virginia Power's North Anna 1&2
reactors near Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trial activity will resume on April 7 on the
issues of whether the Russian shipment must be
stopped because of violations of federal
environmental law and violation of the
international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Physicians for Social Responsibility has actively
opposed the MOX plan since its inception,
primarily on the grounds that it promotes nuclear
proliferation, rather than delivering the goal of
making the plutonium from dismantled nuclear
weapons unavailable for further destructive
purposes. The Atlanta chapter of the national
organization has led professionals in the region
in their action to oppose the commercialization
"Citizens everywhere want nuclear weapons
abolished," said Ed Arnold, Executive
Director of PSR/Atlanta. "We don't
accomplish that by recirculating nuclear weapons
material. And we don't abolish nuclear weapons by
shipping bomb-grade plutonium all over the
planet. This MOX program encourages nuclear
proliferation and we must stop it."
NIRS, which launched a "NIX MOX"
campaign in 1998, recently opened a Southeastern
office to assist BREDL and other grassroots
groups opposing MOX fuel usage and the spending
of hundreds of millions in public funds to
subsidize MOX fabrication, utility acceptance and
"Nuclear power is the most expensive form of
energy and under utility deregulation is going to
be subject to tough competition. The MOX program
provides direct tax dollars to underwrite more
dirty, dangerous nuclear waste production,"
said Kevin Kamps, nuclear specialist with NIRS.
"This is an unfair subsidy that will
disadvantage safer and cheaper power sources that
have less hazardous byproducts. This is another
reason that we are committed to stopping the MOX
"The people in the Southeast have gotten the
picture loud and clear from the first shipment of
MOX fuel to Canada that the US DOE will lie,
cover their actions, take a cloak of secrecy and
act above not only the law of the land, but also
international treaty in order to accomplish their
goals" affirmed Mary Olson, Director of NIRS
Southeast Office. She continued, "This is
the old National Security mythology applied to a
so-called commercial enterprise, but in the end
it is taxpayer dollars that are funding this
program, so we are proud to support citizens in
taking action to stop this charade." The
first MOX shipment to Canada included transport
within Canada by helicopter, despite DOE's
acknowledgement that the MOX casks were not
certified for air transport and the agency's
assurances that no air travel would be involved
"The use of MOX creates more bomb
possibilities around the world, not fewer,"
said Terry Lodge, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
"Instead of rolling plutonium up in two-ton
glass logs and disposing of it under heavy guard,
our government instead wants to show the world
how to fuel low-security civilian nuclear plants
with it. There will be lots of scary new members
to the 'Nuclear Club' if we do this."
The internationally-known Nuclear Information and
Resource Service (NIRS), with nearly 6000
members, including more than 1000 U.S. grassroots
groups nationwide, the Blue Ridge Environmental
Defense League, Inc. (BREDL), headquartered
in North Carolina with 30 chapters
in five southern states, and the internationally
known Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR),
the U.S. affiliate of International Physicians
for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of
the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for educating about
the dangers of nuclear weapons, are the latest
public interest advocates to formally enter a
federal lawsuit in Kalamazoo, Michigan which was
brought by an array of Canadian and U.S. First
Nations tribes and other nuclear power and
More info: Excerpt
from the Motion for Injunction, & March 21,