Media Release

Citizens Groups Demand
Truth from Federal Government
on   Russian   Plutonium   Airlift   Plan

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 on a number of citizens groups, the federal government has been dishonest and inconsistent in its message to the Canadian public on the following points:

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 it's plutonium policy to serious public scrutiny."

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