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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


Response from Jeremy Whitlock to Gordon Edwards 2008 Jan. 31st letter in The Calgary Herald regarding nuclear proliferation risks.


To the Editor,

Re: "Plutonium Half-Truths" Jan. 31.

Gordon Edwards quotes selectively from public literature on the dangers of reactor-grade plutonium, in an attempt to scare Albertans into thinking nuclear power is too risky to handle.

The risks of plutonium, a fuel that provides one-quarter of Ontario's electricity, have been well-understood and controlled for sixty years in this country.

One of these risks is weapons use, which Mr. Edwards claims is overlooked in my statements. In fact I have always referred to this risk, which after all forms the basis for the IAEA's global safeguards regime.

The point is not the existence of the risk, but its degree.

One factor affecting this is the safeguards regime itself, designed to track nuclear fuel and detect diversion.

Another factor relates to the inherent qualities of the plutonium, including whether it is reactor-grade or weapons-grade.

The international nuclear analysis and regulatory community is quite clear on this point.

Unfortunately Mr. Edwards, who is neither a member of this technical community nor an expert on nuclear matters, is able to confuse the issue as an outspoken critic of the industry often called before committees and other forms of inquiry.

Being opinionated, even well-informed, should not be confused with being an expert.


Jeremy Whitlock

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