BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
REPORT REVEALS EXTENSIVE INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS OF PLUTONIUM
Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a report which reveals that the US Department of Energys plutonium fuel testing program would require tens of thousands of miles of national and international shipments of the radioactive material. Documents obtained by the group indicate that problems may force DOE to use British military plutonium instead of dismantled warheads from the United States to fabricate the first test fuel assemblies.
Both DOE and Duke Power, whos McGuire and Catawba reactors are slated for plutonium fuel use, have claimed a swords-into-plowshares mission. Todays report cast doubt on the goals, procedures, and legality of the entire program.
BREDL spokesman Lou Zeller said, Todays revelations show that the DOE has not been straightforward with the people of the United States or the world about the transportation of plutonium. Shipping enough plutonium for 50 nuclear bombs on the high seas is an invitation to disaster.
Don Moniak, BREDL technical consultant and author of the report said, The plutonium fuel program is filled with uncertainties and inherently flawed by political, technical, and regulatory complexities as well as excess transportation requirements. Moniak continued, The documents obtained by BREDL indicate that DOEs frequent changes in this program involve continued violations of the National Environmental Policy Acts provisions for timely public notification.
BREDL reports that that the DOEs plutonium fuel program would require:
Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented Its incredible that DOE has rejected immobilization in favor of an endless cycle of international shipments and the introduction of weapons-grade plutonium to the commercial sector.
BREDLs report indicates further problems with the plutonium fuel program including: the Los Alamos National Labs fabrication of test fuel assemblies is one year behind schedule, Duke Power is seeking exemptions and a license amendment from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Duke Cogema Stone and Webster withheld important information in documents it submitted to the NRC in support of its efforts to license plutonium (MOX) fuel use in Duke reactors, and that the US DOE may have issued a false Record of Decision in January 2000 by stating that Los Alamos was its choice for test assembly fabrication.