This 1997 document is reprinted here for the information it contains.


Comments Needed by September 19 1997 on


To Friends of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout:

As many of you may know, the US Department of Energy (DoE) is wrapping up its environmental assessment on the fabrication and transport of plutonium fuel into Canada on September 19, 1997. [The deadline was subsequently extended.]

The letter which follows can be used as a model when corresponding with the DoE on the issue of plutonium shipments into Canada. If possible, express your views to the DoE in your own words. It is crucial that the DoE hear from as many Canadians as possible before the September 19th deadline.

Correspondence can be sent to

(The DoE Environmental Assessment document is available at the DoE Los Alamos web site)

Copies of any correspondence to the DoE can be sent to

The Prime Minister and other MPs can be faxed via the internet ("Fax the Feds").

We would appreciate it if you could let the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout know in a separate e-mail or fax (e-mail:, or fax: 613-241-2292) if you send a letter to the US DoE and/or politicians in Canada.

A model letter is attached. For additional information on weapons plutonium, please refer to the CCNR (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility) and CNP web sites .

Kristen Ostling
Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout

To the U.S. Department of Energy:

I am writing concerning the "Parallex Project", which involves the fabrication of weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel ("MOX") at Los Alamos, and transport of said fuel to Chalk River, Ontario, for testing in an experimental reactor. I understand that the "test burn" is a precursor for the possible eventual large-scale importation of plutonium MOX fuel for use in CANDU nuclear reactors over a period of two or three decades.

In particular, I refer to the preliminary Environmental Assessment prepared by the US Department of Energy on the Parallex Project. As one of the credible scenarios described therein involves a traffic accident resulting in the release of plutonium oxide particles to the atmosphere and subsequent inhalation of such particles by members of the public, it is clear that a full-scale environmental assessment process must be initiated so that the details of this analysis can be critically scrutinized and alternative scenarios studied.

It is noteworthy that the preliminary EA does not specifically discuss security measures or armed guards for the transport of plutonium fuel, other than to describe a tamper-proof on-board satellite tracking system for the trucks. However, it is apparent that any attempt to hijack the shipments by force of arms could have environmental consequences, and is just as credible as the other accident scenarios discussed in the EA. Such scenarios must be included in a comprehensive environmental assessment process.

In Canada, seven CANDU reactors are slated for shutdown due to a poor "safety culture", manifested in sub-standard practices, sloppy management and a huge backlog of safety-related maintenance problems. The reactors to be shut down include the Bruce A reactors which were selected by AECL as the best candidates for eventual use of MOX fuel. This calls into question the judgment of AECL officials and the wisdom of consigning MOX fuel to AECL without any independent oversight. Indeed, I believe that the same "safety culture" problems may well apply to AECL in addition to Ontario Hydro.

As stated in the EA, "environmental assessment of activities conducted in Canada would be the responsibility of the Canadian government". However, there has been no environmental assessment process initiated in Canada. In fact, there has been no public process of any kind to involve the Canadian parliament or the Canadian population in approving, disapproving, or otherwise commenting on this project. For US authorities to approve the project under such circumstances would inevitably lead to strong public opposition within Canada. I urge the DOE to request the Canadian government to conduct an environmental assessment in parallel with your own.

cc. Prime Minister of Canada, Your member of parliament,
House of Commons, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0A6.

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