U.S nuclear hypocrisy fuelled by arrival of experimental plutonium shipment
Charleston, South Carolina, 12 April 2005 - A ship containing a cargo of experimental nuclear fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium arrived in the United States today after an 4000 mile round trip to France and back. The cargo, the first of its kind to be brought into the US, was taken from U.S. military plutonium stocks, shipped across the Atlantic to France, where it was meet by a storm of protest, transformed into mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear reactor fuel by the French state company Areva (1) and then returned to the US. The shipment flies in the face of global efforts to curb the nuclear threat.
"While the U.S. warns the world about the risks of proliferation of weapons material, here it is engaged in the very act it condemns. It is pure hypocrisy," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International.
"All transport and use of
plutonium must end if we are to halt the spread of nuclear
Activists working with Greenpeace monitored the arrival of the UK-flagged Pacific Pintail, which was escorted by U.S. Coast Guard and local police vessels. Six casks containing 140 kilos of nuclear fuel will be off-loaded at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station.
Part of the of the nuclear load will then be transported 1500 miles cross-country for storage at to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The remainder will become part of a three year long nuclear experiment at the Duke Energy's Catawba nuclear reactor near Rock Hill, South Carolina - the first of it's kind for MOX (mixed oxide) fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium (2). The testing is a prelude to the start up of a large-scale plutonium fuel program in the United States. Activists will monitor the MOX transport along the 340-kilometer trip to the Catawba reactor.
Greenpeace wants all plutonium to be treated as nuclear waste not as potential reactor fuel. This approach would be cheaper, faster, safer, and more secure. It also urges a ban on the production of all weapons-usable fissile materials.
Notes to Editor:
(1). In September 2004, 140 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium oxide (powder) were shipped via Charleston to France for fabrication into commercial nuclear fuel (mixed oxide fuel, MOX) as the US lacks a MOX plant.
(2). Groups working with Greenpeace include Georgians Against Nuclear Energy (GANE), Charleston Peace and the Carolina Peace Resource Centre.
See http://www.stop-plutonium.org for background documentation. A photo of the DOE transport truck can be found at:http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/stratplan_08.htm. Since September 11, other photos of nuclear transport truck have been eliminated from DOE web sites.
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