U.S nuclear hypocrisy fuelled by arrival of experimental plutonium shipment

Press release - 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 ofweapons material, here it is engaged in the very act it condemns. It ispure hypocrisy," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International. "Alltransport and use of plutonium must end if we are to halt the spread ofnuclear weapons."  

Activists working with Greenpeace monitored the arrival of theUK-flagged Pacific Pintail, which was escorted by U.S. Coast Guard andlocal police vessels. Six casks containing 140 kilos of nuclear fuelwill be off-loaded at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station.   

Part of the of the nuclear load will then be transported 1500 milescross-country for storage at to the Los Alamos National Laboratory inNew Mexico. The remainder will become part of a three year long nuclearexperiment at the Duke Energy's Catawba nuclear reactor near Rock Hill,South Carolina - the first of it's kind for MOX (mixed oxide) fuel madefrom weapons-grade plutonium (2). The testing is a prelude to the startup of a large-scale plutonium fuel program in the United States.Activists will monitor the MOX transport along the 340-kilometer tripto the Catawba reactor.

Greenpeace wants all plutonium to be treated as nuclear waste not aspotential reactor fuel. This approach would be cheaper, faster, safer,and more secure. It also urges a ban on the production of allweapons-usable fissile materials. 

Other contacts: Tom Clements, Greenpeace International nuclear expert, in South Carolina, 1-202-415-6158 Cecilia Goin, Greenpeace International media officer, in Amsterdam, + 31 6 212 96 908

Notes: (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 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.

Exp. contact date: 2005-04-30 00:00:00