To whom it may concern:
The item on dispositioning weapons plutonium as MOX fuel in CANDU reactors
(CTV Inquiry, 99/03/22, 11:00 pm) overplayed and exaggerated the health
risks of this initiative, and underplayed the disarmament angle which is its
sole raison d'Ítre. It wrongly implied that a significant danger exists
from transporting MOX fuel, which would probably be the safest material
shipped and carried on our highways. MOX will not be shipped by plane or
passenger train (as wrongly reported in the item), MOX cannot burn, and MOX
is packaged so as to withstand the worst scenarios that transport safety
experts can dream up.
Furthermore, the item made no mention of the alternatives to MOX burning, of
which the main contender (and in fact, a parallel initiative) is to store
plutonium indefinitely in weapons-usable form within glassified logs. This
is, in fact, the alternative encouraged by most MOX opponents, even though
the US Department of Energy admits its potential for re-introducing
weapons-plutonium into the global market, simply by re-melting the
glassified logs (a simple procedure).
There was mention of the Parliamentary SCFAIT report, which I contend had
neither the mandate nor the expertise to comment on the MOX initiative (the
issue is premature, introduced as an afterthought, and the committee did not
even talk to AECL or Ontario Hydro). While the remainder of the SCFAIT
report deserves attention, the government would be justified in ignoring the
MOX recommendation for the partisan non-sequitur that it is. Moreover,
those that call for rational, public debate on the MOX issue contradict
their own wishes by calling for the dismissal of the project before it has
received fair scientific and public review.
As a Canadian I am proud that we can potentially play a significant role in
reducing the risk of nuclear weapons use. As a resident of a region where
plutonium, MOX, and other radioactive materials are routinely handled and
transported, and as a scientist trained to recognize the risk and proper
usage of these materials, I'm not the least bit worried about the dangers of
Canada's MOX initiative.