To CTV News concerning an item on MOX-dispositioning of surplus weapons-plutonium:

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.


Jeremy Whitlock