To The North Renfrew Times (published 2000/12/20) in response to a story on the "demise" of the CANDU MOX plan for surplus weapons plutonium dispositioning:

December 15, 2000

To the Editor, The North Renfrew Times:

With apologies to Mark Twain, the rumours of the MOX test's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Your article "MOX tests dead before they start?" (December 13) erroneously reports that "a panel of American scientists has ruled out the use of MOX fuel in CANDU reactors".

The report in question, a pre-publication version of which can be viewed on-line at, finds instead that the most recent CANDU-MOX option submitted by AECL is "marginally compliant" with the so-called Spent-Fuel Standard. The report does find an earlier CANDU-MOX option to be non-compliant, which may be the source of confusion.

Moreover, my personal review of this report suggests that several questionable assumptions were made by the American panel (such as the concentration of plutonium in the final spent fuel), which if corrected could raised the CANDU-MOX compliance level well above "marginal".

The report is flawed and of little technical value.

Certainly I'd counsel against assigning much weight to the comments of Tom Clements of the Nuclear Control Institute, a well-heeled American anti-nuclear group with other things on their mind.


Jeremy Whitlock