To The Globe and Mail in response to an article on the decommisioning plans for an historical facility at Chalk River Laboratories.

October 2, 2000

To the Editor, The Globe and Mail

Your article "Plutonium cleanup put at $40 million" (Oct. 2) describes an early Cold-War plutonium facility at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories that hasn't been used for over forty years.

In that forty years Canada has distinguished itself as the only member of the select group of countries associated with wartime nuclear-weapons development, to completely dissociate itself from the technology.

In that same forty years Canada didn't abandon nuclear science, but directed its hard-earned resources to the development of a world-class nuclear power program that today competes alone with American-based reactor technology around the world.

It was very disappointing, therefore, to see Gordon Edwards, of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, describing the historic plutonium facility at Chalk River as a "liability" of the Canadian nuclear industry.

It has nothing to do with the nuclear industry, except a common ancestry. Mr. Edwards is exploiting the public's lack of knowledge of a highly technical but emotional subject, to further his group's agenda. One can't help but wonder if the overwhelming lack of public outcry over the recent MOX shipment to AECL was motivation for stirring up the skeletons in our Cold War closets.

There is nothing wrong with trying to go into extra innings, but why do anti-MOX groups have to play dirty? Of particular concern is Gordon Edwards, who, as Canada's foremost lay-expert on the politics of plutonium, is certainly aware of the irrelevance of Cold War projects to CANDU reactors.

We need new nuclear "watch-dogs" in this country. More than ever, this is a time for looking to the future with reason, not recrimination. The public is clearly not being served well by the seventies-era No-Nukes mentality.


Jeremy Whitlock