Ontario Not Planning
to Use Plutonium Fuel

A letter from Ontario Hydro Chairman, William Farlinger, as well as two recent documents -- one provincial, one federal -- indicate that Ontario Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation) regards Prime Minister Chrétien's plutonium fuel proposal as a dormant project which

  • is ''no longer being actively considered'' by the provincial utility,

  • was ''not selected by the United States for further study'', and

  • would need to be ''re-activated'' before the utility would give it any consideration.

    Even then, any participation by the utility

  • would have to be ''guided by'' the ''imperative'' of ''improving the operating performance of our nuclear assets''.

Document #1:

Letter from the Chairman of the Board

A Letter from the Chairman of the Board

September 2 1998

Ms. Irene Kock
Nuclear Awareness Project
Box 104 Uxbridge Ontario L9P 1M6

Dear Ms. Kock:

Thank you for your recent letter concerning Ontario Hydro's involvement in the global efforts to dispose of surplus weapons plutonium.

With respect to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) request referenced in your letter, Ontario Hydro did not submit a [MOX] proposal or participate in any consortium doing so.

We participated in preliminary [MOX] studies to evaluate possible technical solutions for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium. This was in support of the Canadian Government's policy to encourage the permanent disposition of these undesirable materials.

The Canadian initiative was led and directed by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. However, the Canadian [MOX] alternative was not included in the range of options initially selected by the DOE.

Since this earlier participation in the MOX initiative, circumstances at Ontario Hydro have changed significantly. Even though we still support this important disarmament and non-proliferation initiative, we are not actively engaged in any MOX-related work and our focus is entirely on improving the operating performance of our nuclear assets.

If the Canadian MOX initiative were reactivated, Ontario Hydro's response would be guided by this imperative (i.e. improved operating performance) and any involvement must be consistent with government policy, regulatory approval and a sound business case.

Thank you for writing and I trust this answers your questions.


William A, Farlinger

Document #2:

Nuclear Waste Management


Issued to the AECB: February 25, 1999
Issued to the public: June 7, 1999


On April 1, 1999, as part of the restructuring of the Ontario electricity industry, operation of Ontario Hydro's generation assets and associated programs, including Nuclear Waste Management, was transferred to Ontario Power Generationm Incorporated, one of the companies that are succeeding Ontario Hydro.

This document was originally issued to the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) by Ontario Hydro on February 25, 2999. Although the document was not distributed to the public at that time, it was available through the AECB's public registry. Now that the environmental assessment review of the subject project has officially concluded, Ontario Power Generation is pleased to provide copies of this document to all who participated in the review and to other members of the public who are interested.

To preserve the integrity of the document, its contents beyond this cover page have been left unchanged from the February 25 version issued to the AECB, with the exception of the contact information in Section III, Readers are therefore advised that all references in the document to present or future actions or commitments by ''Ontario Hydro'' now apply to Ontario Power Generation.

14. Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel

The Canadian MOX option, conceptually linked to Bruce A, was identified in the EA   [Environmental Assessment]   as an "external initiative" of very uncertain status. Since the option is no longer being actively considered by Hydro, its environmental implications were not included in the cumulative effects assessment. This is consistent with CEAA   [Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency]   guidelines, which suggest priority consideration of future projects/activities that are certain or reasonably foreseeable, not hypothetical ones.

Ontario Hydro supports the Canadian government's policy of encouraging the disposition of surplus plutonium from U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. Hydro participated in preliminary studies, led by Atomic Enbergy of Canada Limited, to evaluate a Canadian option for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium, as part of a broader program initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Canadian option involved using weapons plutonium in diluted form (as Mixed Oxide or MOX fuel) in an existing CANDU reactor (Bruce A was assumed as the technical reference case). However, the idea was not selected by the United States for further study. If the Canadian MOX option were reactivated and Hydro was asked to participate, the project would be subject to government policy, a sound business case, and regulatory approval.

Document #3:



[ A briefing document for the (federal) Environment Minister
prepared by Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency ]


The Project   [ Dry Storage of Irradiated Fuel ]
Federal Decision-Making Authority
Minister of Environment Decision Options
Public Consultation
Agency Review of the Comprehensive Study Report

Appendix A: Issue 13, MOX Fuel

The Project

Ontario Hydro submitted an application for the construction of a dry storage facility for used nuclear fuel produced at the Bruce A and Bruce B Nuclear Generating Stations. The dry storage facility will be located at the Bruce Nuclear Power Development (BNPD) near Tiverton, Ontario, and will form part of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development Radioactive Waste Operations Site 2.

The purpose of the proposed project is to expand existing on-site used fuel storage facilities to accommodate used fuel from ongoing operation of the Bruce A and Bruce B stations....

Federal Decision-Making Authority

The responsible authority for this project is the Atomic Energy Control Board....

A comprehensive   [environmental assessment]   study is required for this project as the project involves the proposed construction of a facility which is on a site that is not within the boundaries of an existinglicenced nuclear facility and is for the storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, where the facility has an irradiated nuclear fuel inventory capacity of more than 500 tonnes....

... The Board submitted the required comprehensive study report to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for action on September 18, 1998.

A 60-day public comment period, managed by the Agency [CEAA] , was completed on November 21, 1998.

Minister of Environment Decision Options

Your [i.e. the Minister's] options for determining what next steps will be taken for a comprehensive study under the Act are:

  1. support the project, because the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects;

  2. not support the project, because the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be justified; or

  3. require a panel review of the project to determine if the federal government should support the project either because

    • the environmental effects are likely significant but justifiable,

    • the effects are unknown, or

    • public concerns with respect to the project warrant a panel.

Your decision is required on one of the above options....

Public Consultation

... Twenty-two submissions were in support of the project. The submissions of support were received from municipal governments and groups located in the vicinity of the project area....

The remaining submissions (171) expressed concerns and raised questions about the project....

A summary of the concerns expressed in the submissions received during the comment period, organized by major issue, as well as the response provided by the Board [AECB: Atomic Energy Control Board] and expert departments, is provided in Appendix A.

Agency [CEAA] Review of the Comprehensive Study Report

The Agency recognizes that a large number of comments have been received expressing concerns about the project and requesting that it be reviewed by a panel. Many of these concerns relate to radiation exposure and the potential effect of such an exposure on human health and the health of the ecosystem.... Such issues would be more appropriately addressed by the Board in reviewing and licencing the ongoing operations of the entire Bruce Nuclear Power Development.

Based on all the information submitted, the Agency [CEAA] considers that further environmental assessment of this project via a mediator or review panel is not warranted.

Appendix A

Summary of Public Issues and
RA [Responsible Agency] Responses

Issue #13. MOX Fuel

RA [Responsible Agency] Response:

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

[ Plutonium Sub-Directory ]
[ Short Directory ] [ COMPLETE DIRECTORY ]


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