NIX MOX DAY - September 28, 2000


  The United States Department of Energy plans to reprocess nuclear warhead plutonium into commercial nuclear power reactor fuel.  The site for fabrication of the fuel, also called MOX, is Savannah River in South Carolina.  Weapons-grade plutonium now stored at military sites across the nation would be transported to the southeast, made into fuel, and shipped back out to Duke Power reactors near Charlotte, North Carolina and Rock Hill, South Carolina. 
  The use of plutonium in reactors would put a strategically valuable and dangerous material which is now protected by the armed forces in the hands of electric utilities.  Plutonium fuel would be transported through . 
  The project would not reduce the nation's stockpile because plutonium is created at a rate similar to its destruction in a power reactor. 
  The environmental contamination from plutonium reprocessing and the additional risks of plutonium fuel transport to and use in commercial nuclear power reactors is a public health  nightmare. 

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League opposes the use of plutonium fuel in commercial nuclear power reactors for environmental, public health, and national security reasons.

The use of plutonium fuel in nuclear powered utility reactors would employ one of the most toxic substances on earth to generate electricity.  The US Department of Energy's plutonium program would process 33 tons of plutonium at the Savannah River Site for use as reactor fuel at Duke Power's Catawba and McGuire nuclear power stations.  Plutonium fuel will shorten the lifespan of these utility reactors and increase the risk of accidents because of reactor component embrittlement caused by the plutonium's higher neutron flux.  Higher actinide content and other factors will increase the severity of an accident, resulting in 30% more death and illness.

Our civil liberties may suffer.  Plutonium oxide fuel would be valuable target.  Secrecy and defense measures which the military uses to transport plutonium would have to be duplicated by Duke Power.  Transport of the plutonium fuel to reactor sites would add to the risk of accidental release of radiation. 

We believe that the toxic legacy of the Cold War should not be transmuted into a plutonium-fueled
Immobilizing the plutonium in glass logs rather than trucking it to nuclear reactors would reduce the risk of diversion and accidents.  It would avoid the increased risks to human health from plutonium fueled reactor accidents.  It would eliminate the short-term costs to ratepayers for converting reactors to plutonium and the long-term costs to taxpayers for subsidizing plutonium fuel.  Finally, it would return us to a more sensible non-proliferation policy.