Jean Chrétien: "Don't Bring Plutonium Into Canada"

Message To Jean Chrétien:
"Don't Bring Plutonium Into Canada"


At a G-7 meeting in Moscow (April 19-20, 1996) Prime Minister Jean Chrétien signed a Memorandum of Understanding which opens the door to having plutonium from Russia (extracted from Russian nuclear warheads) imported into Canada -- to be used as fuel for Ontario Hydro's "Bruce A" nuclear reactors.

There has been no public consultation, no parliamentary debate, indeed no open democratic process whatsoever leading up to this astonishing policy initiative on the part of M. Chrétien.

Please fax M. Chrétien at (613) 957 5571
to let him know what you and your organization think about this plan. Feel free to combine any or all of the following paragraphs into your own message.

Plutonium may also be imported from the United States into Canada. Please read the attached "Nuclear Watchdog Bulletin" for further information and write two letters:

  1. Tell the Prime Minister that you oppose the import of plutonium fuel and that you want him to stop supporting it.
  2. The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien,
    Prime Minister of Canada,
    Room 309-S, Centre Block, House of Commons,
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 (postage-free)
    fax = 613-941-6900

  3. Tell the U.S. Department of Energy that you don't want plutonium fuel imported into Canada (the deadline is June 7, 1996 -- re: Storage and Disposition of Weapons-Usable Fissile Materials, Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement).
  4. U.S. Department of Energy
    Office of Fissile Materials Disposition
    P.O. Box 23786 Washington, D.C.
    20026-3786 U.S.A.
    fax = 202-586- 2710

Canadian Coalition
for Nuclear

Regroupement pour
la surveillance
du nucléaire


Date: April 10 1996

To: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
(613) 941 6900

From: Gordon Edwards, President,

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility,
c.p. 236, Station Snowdon
Montreal QC H3X 3T4
Phone or Fax: (514) 489 5118

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility is strongly opposed to the concept of importing plutonium into Canada to be used as fuel in Ontario Hydro's CANDU reactors.

We urge you to diversify your sources of advice on this subject. Every independent study we are aware of has advocated full public discussion and debate prior to any decision on the use of plutonium as a reactor fuel. Here in Canada, there has been no such discussion or debate. Consequently, you have no mandate from the people to embark on this dangerous course of action.

  1. "Burning" ex-warhead plutonium by using it as fuel in CANDU reactors does not eliminate the plutonium. Only about half of it is fissioned, and more plutonium is created inside the reactor as a result of neutron bombardment of uranium-238 . Although there is a net reduction in the total amount of plutonium, both the ex-warhead plutonium that remains unfissioned and the plutonium that is newly made inside the reactor are weapons- usable materials, posing a security problem for millenia.
  2. Increasing civilian traffic in plutonium will only magnify the risks of theft and/or diversion by criminals, terrorist organizations, or other groups wishing to use plutonium as an atomic explosive or as a radiological weapon -- this is, in essence, the "plutonium problem" that must be dealt with;
  3. Canada's use of plutonium as a reactor fuel will encourage other states to follow suit, thus perpetuating the plutonium problem, not eliminating it.
  4. The unprecedented security measures required to safeguard the handling of plutonium fuel (called 'mixed oxide' or MOX fuel) will have an adverse effect on civil liberties in Canada.
  5. Because of the extraordinary toxicity of plutonium in a respirable form, as well as the danger of an accidental fission reaction occurring, a plutonium fuel fabrication plant will be expensive to build and dangerous to operate.
  6. More importantly, a commercial plutonium fuel fabrication plant will pose an exceptional security risk since, at that stage of handling, the plutonium is not mixed with highly radioactive materials and it is quite portable.
  7. Even if the plutonium itself were provided free of charge, experts agree that the use of plutonium fuel (MOX fuel) will be substantially more expensive than continuing the use of natural uranium fuel.
  8. We believe that Pierre Trudeau was correct when he told the United Nations in 1978 that the production of plutonium should be outlawed globally. There seems little point in "burning" or locking up plutonium at one end of the fuel chain while continuing to produce it at the other end. We think your government should be working to end plutonium production world-wide.
  9. Selling CANDU reactors abroad also increases the amount of plutonium in the world, since any régime in the next fifty thousand years can extract plutonium from spent CANDU fuel and use it in atomic bombs.
  10. We believe that ex-warhead plutonium should be guarded within a tight security net under strict international control. We do not believe it should be used to fuel civilian nuclear reactors and we will strenuously oppose any attempt to import plutonium into Canada for that purpose.
We urgently request a meeting with you, Mr. Prime Minister, to discuss this important matter.

Yours very truly,

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.


Anne McLellan, Minister of Natural Resources --- FAX = (613) 943 0044
John Manley, Minister of Industry and Science --- FAX = (613) 996 3443
Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs ----- FAX = (613) 992 0302


[ The Dangers of Encouraging Plutonium Use ]
[ Bomb Makers Speak Out Against Plutonium ]

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