compiled by Dee Finney


8-30-04 - I heard a bell ring in my right ear, so I asked if there was a message, and I saw the words come into view in my third eye:

"Willie Flotilla"

I didn't know what that meant so I looked up the word 'flotilla' on the internet to see what there was about it. 

I went into the livingroom to tell Joe about it.  He said he had just had a short dream in which he was sitting on the dock of a bay and he saw some dark clouds here and there in the sky over the ocean. He said he saw something move across the dark cloud but he couldn't see what it was until it came into view in the clear sky between the clouds.  Appearing in the clear sky was the image of a black and white striped whale that he could actually see through.  It only showed when the sky showed through it.  

Then he found a pole in his hand and it was attached to the whale in some fashion so that he could steer the whale across the sky and keep it in view in the clear space between the clouds. 

ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT WHALES. by Dee Finney. ... Great Whales Foundation - Educating
about whales from the whale's point of view. "Hot Topics" by Mark Miller. ...

All Hands, Apr. 97 - Whale save
... The rescue of the humpback whale by Kauai Sailors, or the "Free Willie" story as some have been calling it, began Jan. 6. Lieut. ...
www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ allhands/ah0497/apr-pg44.html
Flotilla to draw attention to plutonium shipment

07:12 PM EDT on Thursday, August 5, 2004

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A small flotilla of boats will take to the waters of Charleston Harbor on Saturday as demonstrators draw attention to the dangers of shipping weapons-grade plutonium around the world.

The Nuclear Free Flotilla will consist of small boats, canoes and kayaks, said Merrill Chapman of a local group called Citizens Against Plutonium.

More than a dozen vessels are expected this weekend in a trial run.

More boats from along the East Coast are expected later this year when a shipment of plutonium arrives in Charleston and is loaded on a ship for France, she said.

The local group, along with Greenpeace, wants a full environmental impact statement on Department of Energy plans to ship the 330 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium overseas for processing.

The shipment is the first in a long-range plan to neutralize 34 metric tons of plutonium and make it useless for nuclear weapons by converting it into fuel for commercial reactors.

Building a mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, plant at the Savannah River Site to process such material will cost $4 billion and create 500 jobs for 20 years. But construction has been delayed until at least next year.

The plutonium powder, which critics say could make 50 dirty bombs, will be shipped to France for processing and returned for use in a commercial reactor test run next year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a preliminary finding in favor of allowing Duke Power to test the new fuel at its Catawba Nuclear Station on Lake Wylie.

Tom Clements of Greenpeace says the shipment, which he said is expected next month, makes an inviting target for terrorists.

"We have not had the ability to comment on the vulnerability of these containers and what would happen in case of an accident or an attack or if they were dropped on the dock here at the Naval Weapons Station," he said.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission license for the shipment was issued in June. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a certificate approving the containers in which the plutonium will be transported.

The plutonium will be shipped from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, loaded on a ship for France and then transported by truck to a reactor in the south of France.

The federal government has said in filings that while "the likelihood of an attempted act of sabotage or terrorism occurring is not precisely knowable ... the chance of success of any such attempt was judged to be very low."

Another flotilla of boats is expected to meet the shipment when it gets to France, Chapman said.

She said the idea of the flotillas is not to disrupt the shipment, but bring public attention to the dangers of shipping plutonium through commerce.

"Our city welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists a year," she said. "If the seafood industry is devastated due to a nuclear accident, or our coastline is littered with no swimming signs due to contamination, tourists will find another vacation spot and our city will be economically decimated," she said.

Sunday, August 8, 2004
Anti-nuclear group stages harbor dry run

Citizens Against Plutonium rehearses protest of shipment through Charleston

Of The Post and Courier Staff

A dry run was held Saturday by protesters who plan to dispatch an anti-nuclear flotilla when an expected shipment of bomb-grade plutonium passes through Charleston Harbor later this month.

Citizens Against Plutonium, a local group working with veteran national and international anti-nuclear activists, launched half a dozen boats into the harbor Saturday morning. Bearing flags with an anti-nuclear insignia, several large sailing craft, some powerboats and two kayaks bounced on choppy waters while being observed by a Charleston police boat and the Coast Guard.

Blake Hallman (right) and John Chapman join in a rehearsal Saturday for an anti-nuclear flotilla to protest a plutonium shipment through Charleston later this month.

One powerboat operator, Nadine Block of Maryland, playfully offered the police boat a banner but was rejected.

"You want a flag?" she asked.

About a dozen vessels are expected in the flotilla when plutonium is shipped through the harbor, CAP organizer Merrill Chapman of Mount Pleasant said. Some members of Greenpeace International and the Nuclear-Free Atlantic Flotilla are supporting the flotilla, she said.

She insisted CAP has no intention of blocking the shipment, but instead will greet it with a "peaceful, legal protest."

Federal officials insist the radioactive material left over from the Cold War can be safely shipped by truck and rail from points around the country and through Charleston Harbor to France.

In France, the plutonium is to be converted to commercial grade fuel for nuclear power plants, as part of a joint U.S.-Russian agreement intended to convert nu-clear weapons stockpiles to peaceful uses.

Chapman said Saturday was "a fun day" for organizers to gather and familiarize themselves with the harbor.

Transporting nuclear material is very dangerous, Chapman insisted. She suggested the material be "vitrified" in a process that would seal it in a type of glass.

An accident could be catastrophic and there are risks that terrorists might attempt to seize the radioactive material or cause it to be dispersed, Chapman said. Citing a recent study exposing the vulnerability of America's ports to terrorism, Chapman said shipping extremely dangerous material though an unsecured port makes no sense at all.

Mount Pleasant Attorney Stan Barnett, who has authored a novel, "A Single Star," was on hand to discuss the book and his fictional account of a South Carolina governor who tries to block a shipment of nuclear material through the state.

The Department of Energy intends to ship the plutonium from the Charleston Naval Weapons Station to France in July or August, according to a federal document.

Plans call for the plutonium, stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, to be shipped overland aboard special armored trucks to the Naval Weapons Station on the Cooper River.

From the weapons station, the plutonium then would be loaded onto two armed ocean-going vessels bound for Cherbourg, France.

There, the powdered plutonium would be fabricated into mixed oxide, or MOX fuel, at a special nuclear facility and shipped back through the Lowcountry.

The fuel assemblies to be produced in France are expected to come back through Charleston bound for Duke Energy's Catawba reactor south of Charlotte.

Copyright © 2004, The Post and Courier, All Rights Reserved.

August 14, 2004

The Saturday Interview

Elite armed force stands firm after shake-up

Examining the new direction taken to protect Britain’s energy industry

NEXT month the United States will quietly attempt to ship 140kg of weapons-grade plutonium across the Atlantic to France. The controversial shipments are likely to attract criticism from anti-nuclear groups around the world.

The radioactive material — enough, critics say, for 50 or more nuclear weapons — will be carried by ships owned by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) and be guarded by Britain’s nuclear police force.

  Since the September 11 attacks the possibility that fuel shipments could be ambushed by terrorists has made the job of guarding such cargos more critical than ever.

Bill Pryke, chief constable of the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary, will send at least 30 of his 613 officers to guard the ships en route to France. Pryke’s police are leaders in their field who train with the Royal Navy and the SAS. They know how to deal with pirates and terrorists, how to survive in violent Atlantic seas when washed overboard, and how to look menacing to over-enthusiastic protesters.

For years radioactive material that could potentially be used in a dirty bomb — uranium and plutonium — has been given an armed guard in transit by rail, road or sea. Protesters in Cumbria refer to the officers who work the BNFL ships as “sea plods”. In 1999 the sea plods helped to guard mixed oxide (Mox) fuel on its way to Japan. The next year, amid the glare of international attention, they rode shotgun on the return journey.

When not on the road, the constabulary guards seven civil facilities, including Sellafield, Europe’s biggest nuclear facility, in Cumbria.

Next year, as part of a shake-up of the industry that was given Royal Assent last month, the constabulary will become an autonomous armed force with its own statutory police authority. After almost 50 years of policing, it will be independent of the nuclear operators — BNFL, Urenco and the UK Atomic Energy Authority — who have, until now, paid its bills.

In future Pryke will report directly to Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, and his force will receive its instructions and budget from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the new clean-up body that is to take ownership of Britain’s 21 principal nuclear facilities. The force’s transformation will be complete when, on April 1 next year, it becomes the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

Pryke says the change has been a long time coming. Six years ago Antony Pointer, his predecessor, resigned after a dispute over policing the Dounreay site in Caithness. At issue was the balance between budgetary pressures and the need for tight security. After resigning, Pointer told a Commons committee that Britain urgently needed an independent overview of nuclear policing.

The row became bitter, but marked a turning point for the police force, Pryke says. “The organisation has really moved on since then.”

Finally independent, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary — a secretive and aggressive body, according to anti- nuclear campaigners — will be required to be as open and accountable as any other force.


McGuire Nuclear Power Plant (Photo courtesy NRC)

   Catawba Nuclear Power Plant (Photo courtesy NRC) 
Four companies in the U.S. provide nuclear fuel fabrication services: Framatome Cogema Fuels in Lynchburg, Va.; Global Nuclear Fuel in Wilmington, N.C.; Siemens Power Corp. in Richland, Wash.; and Westinghouse Electric in Columbia, S.C., and Hematite, Mo.

Plutonium Uranium Mixed Oxide (MOX)

Plutonium can be blended with uranium oxide to form mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.  In March 1999 Duke Energy was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy contract to convert plutonium from dismantled U.S. nuclear warheads into MOX fuel and irradiate it in the Catawba and McGuire nuclear reactors. The MOX nuclear-reactor fuel will be produced at the Savannah River Site. The nuclear materials involved are principally highly enriched uranium (HEU) --containing at least 20 percent 235U, a fissionable uranium isotope--and plutonium. HEU can be "blended down" with uranium that contains low concentrations of 235U to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) containing up to 5 percent 235U. Both LEU and MOX can be used as fuel in commercial nuclear power reactors. After these fuels have been burned in power reactors, they are discharged as spent fuel, which is highly radioactive and difficult to use for weapons manufacture.

The MOX plan would rid the U.S. and Russia, of several tons of plutonium used in nuclear weapons.  MOX fuel, which would contain surplus plutonium, would be manufactured at SRS in a new plant being designed by Duke COGEMA. The proposed plant, to be completed in 2006, would cost between $500 million and $700 million.  The plant would employ about 400 people at the federal nuclear-weapons site.                                                                                              

Two of Duke Energy’s MOX plants, known as Catawba One and Two, are located in the vicinity of the Charlotte, North Carolina metropolitan area--near Clover, South Carolina (AAEA President Norris McDonald once lived in Clover). The other two facilities, known as McGuire One and Two, are located near Huntersville, North Carolina

All four nuclear units provide electricity to some two million customers in a 22,000 square mile service area of the Carolinas.

The Duke reactors use a unique "ice condenser" containment system. Containment systems are critical in preventing catastrophic releases of radioactive materials during an accident.  The Catawba and McGuire facilities are among a handful of pressurized water reactors worldwide with ice condenser containments.

Ice condenser plants are equipped with channels filled with blocks of ice that are supposed to cool any steam blasted into them during a core melt accident. They condense the steam to water, reducing the threat of containment rupture.

They are also required to have "hydrogen igniter" systems that are intended to burn the large quantity of hydrogen gas that would be generated in such an accident before it reached an explosive concentration.

Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) is also a member of the Duke, COGEMA, Stone & Webster (DCS) team which was selected by the DOE to design, construct and operate a new Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX FFF) at the Savannah River Site, a $700 million project. NFS is responsible for the design, support and operation of safeguards and security systems for the new facility.

Recycling Nuclear Fuel Outside of the United States 

In 1999, two Beligian, three Swiss, ten German and seventeen French reactors were burning MOX fuel, with plans for more to begin soon. Electricite de France plans to license one additional unit for MOX. Up to 50 European reactors are expected to be burning MOX fuel by 2010; and Japanese reactors will be burning MOX fuel by then as well.

A multinational consortium is building a MOX plant in Russia, particularly to utilise weapons-grade plutonium (at 2 t/yr), and a similar plant is proposed in the USA. These will enable ex military plutonium from disarmament to be permanently destroyed as it is "burned" in reactors.  Russia already has a facility for processing highly enriched uranium: Dimitrovgrad, about 520 miles southeast of Moscow, home to a Russian processing plant that specializes in converting weapons-grade uranium into the variety used by commercial nuclear power plants.

The United Kingdom government has approved operation of the controversial mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel manufacturing plant at Sellafield. Designed to turn uranium and plutonium from spent fuel into new reactor rods, the MOX plant was completed in 1996 but never started. British Nuclear Fuels plc operates an 8tHM/yr plant at Sellafield and has completed construction of a 120 tHM/yr MOX plant.

In France, the COGEMAs plant at Cadarache can fabricate 30 tHM/yr of MOX fuel. COGEMA and Framatome built the MELOX plant at Marcoule with a capacity of more than 120 tHM/yr.

The large Tricastin enrichment plant in France (beyond cooling towers). 
The four nuclear reactors in the foreground provide over 3000 MWe power for the plant.

The Belgium Belgonuclaires PO plant in Dessel has the capacity to fabricate 35 MT heavy metal per year of MOX fuel and plans a P1 plant with the same capacity. 

Germany's Siemens plant at Hanau has a capacity of 30 tHM/yr but in April 1994 announced plans to close it. Another plant there, with a capacity of 120 tHM/yr, was 95 percent completed by 1994. Political and legal opposition have hampered Germanys plutonium-related programs.

Japan does not currently have an operating MOX fabrication plant. It must rely on existing fabrication plants in Europe. Japanese utilities routinely transport their used spent fuel to European reprocessing plants, where it is separated into usable materials, which are then fabricated into MOX fuel, and waste, which is returned to Japan for ultimate disposal. Tokyo Electric Power Corp. and Kansai Electric Power Corp. are burning MOX fuel. Kansai is burning MOX and TEPCO is burning MOX in its Fukushima reactor. Japan aims to have one third of its reactors using MOX by 2010, and has approved construction of a new reactor which will have a complete fuel loading of MOX.

Japan's Electric Power Coordination Council approved plans to construct the world's first reactor to utilize 100 percent MOX fuel Aug. 3, 1999. The approval will allow the Electric Power Development Co. to begin building the advanced boiling water plant in Aomori prefecture in 2000. The plant is scheduled to begin operations in July 2007.

In every nuclear reactor there is both fission of isotopes such as uranium-235, and the formation of new, heavier isotopes due to neutron capture, primarily by U-238. Most of the fuel mass in a reactor is U-238. This can become plutonium-239 and by successive neutron capture Pu-240, Pu-241 and Pu-242 as well as other transuranic or actinide isotopes. Pu-239 is fissile, like U-235. (Very small quantities of Pu-236 and Pu-238 are formed similarly from U-235.)

Normally, with the fuel being changed every three years or so, most of the Pu-239 is "burned" in the reactor. It behaves like U-235 and its fission releases a similar amount of energy. The higher the burn-up, the less plutonium remains in the spent fuel, but typically about one percent of the spent fuel discharged from a reactor is plutonium, and some two thirds of the plutonium is Pu-239. Worldwide, almost 100 tonnes of plutonium in spent fuel arises each year.

A single recycle of plutonium increases the energy derived from the original uranium by some 17%, and if the uranium is also recycled this becomes about 30%.

Recycling Fuel. The first step is separating the plutonium from the remaining uranium (about 96% of the spent fuel) and the fission products with other wastes (together about 3%). This is undertaken at a reprocessing plant. 

Plutonium Dioxide

The plutonium, as an oxide, is then mixed with depleted uranium left over from an enrichment plant to form fresh mixed oxide fuel (MOX, which is UO2+PuO2). MOX fuel, consisting of 7% plutonium mixed with depleted uranium, is equivalent to uranium oxide fuel enriched to about 4.5% U-235, assuming that the plutonium has about 60- 65% Pu-239. If weapons plutonium were used (>90% Pu-239), only about 5% plutonium would be needed in the mix.

Plutonium from reprocessed fuel is usually fabricated into MOX as soon as possible to avoid problems with the decay of short-lived isotopes of Pu. In particular, Pu-241 decays to Am-241 which is a strong gamma emitter, giving rise to a potential occupational health hazard if the separated plutonium over five years old is used in a normal MOX plant. While fast neutron reactors allow unlimited recycle of plutonium, since all isotopes there are fissionable, in thermal reactors isotopic degradation limits the plutonium recycle potential. Along with about 40% Pu-239, there may be 32% Pu-240, 18% Pu-241, 8% Pu-242 and 2% Pu-238.

(Recycled uranium from a reprocessing plant is re-enriched on its own for use as fresh fuel. Because it contains some neutron-absorbing U-234 and U-236, the enrichment level is slightly greater than for mined uranium providing equivalent fuel.)

The use of MOX does not change the operating characteristics of a reactor, though the plant must be designed or adapted slightly to take it. More control rods are needed. For more than 50% MOX loading, significant changes are necessary in reactor design.

With low uranium prices, reprocessing to separate plutonium for recycle as MOX is not itself economic, but coupled with reducing the volume of spent fuel to be managed, it becomes so.

At present the output of reprocessing plants exceeds the rate of plutonium usage in MOX, resulting in inventories of plutonium in several countries. These stocks are expected to reach nearly 200 tonnes before they start to decline after 2005 as MOX use increases. By 2010 production and use of plutonium in MOX are expected to be more in balance, with MOX supplying about 5% of world reactor fuel requirements.

Sources: Multiple Internet Sites

Taken from: http://groups.msn.com/AAEA/mox.msnw

BARROW ships sail into a worldwide nuclear storm

TWO BARROW nuclear ships guarded by “sea plods” are set to be at the centre of a world nuclear storm.

They will sail to the USA next month to pick up a controversial consignment of former nuclear weapons plutonium.

The ships, Pacific Teal and Pacific Pintail are each armed with two military cannon and will be manned by Atomic Energy Authority police sharpshooters — dubbed sea plods by anti-nuclear groups.

The police officers, some of them from Sellafield will guard the American consignment which is a flask containing 140kg of weapons grade plutonium — enough critics claim to make about 50 nuclear bombs.

It will be taken to France for it to be turned into mixed oxide fuel.

Anti-nuclear protestors staged a demonstration at Barrow Docks in 2002 when the two vessels were last used to transport radioactive mox fuel back to Barrow after it had been rejected by the Japanese authorities.

Anti-nuclear campaigners are predicting the ships and the consignment could run into serious opposition from opponents in France.

The Barrow ships will later return the plutonium as fuel assemblies to the USA where it will be tested in a nuclear power station.

The controversial shipments are likely to attract criticism from anti-nuclear groups around the world including Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment.

Since the September 11 attacks the possibility that fuel shipments could be ambushed by terrorists has made the job of guarding such cargos more critical than ever before.

France's nuclear energy company denies shipment
is US military plutonium

CHERBOURG, France, Aug 16, 2004 (AFP) - France's state-owned Areva nuclear energy company denied Monday that a truckload of plutonium it was sending to a subsidiary in Belgium was US military grade, as the environmental group Greenpeace claimed.

"It's not plutonium from the US disarmament plan," an Areva executive, Thierry Langlois, told AFP. He described the plutonium as civilian grade.

In a statement earlier Monday, Greenpeace said the truck, which left an Areva factory in La Hague in western France for Dessel in Belgium, was carrying plutonium left over from American Cold War stocks that are being reduced.

The group said it would escort the truck and warn residents along the roads of the radioactive cargo.

Langlois criticised the Greenpeace statement, adding "these civilian transportations have been going on for more than 15 years" and all safety requirements were being met.


WIPP shipment passing through Albuquerque in 2003

WIPP shipments through Albuquerque to resume
Last Update: 08/27/2004 8:21:21 AM
By: Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - Radioactive trash bound for a federal nuclear waste dump near Carlsbad will start coming through Albuquerque again this week.

A US Department of Energy spokeswoman, Susan Scott, says the next shipment of plutonium-contaminated waste will leave the Nevada Test Site today.

Scott says the waste should be trucked through Albuquerque sometime Saturday, en route to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Most of the nearly 3,000 shipments that have gone to the underground repository have traveled through eastern New Mexico. Only seven have gone through New Mexico’s largest city.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

August 25, 2004

Lawmakers question security of DOE shipment of plutonium to France

Noting concerns that terrorists may attempt to influence the U.S. November elections through an attack, Democratic lawmakers this month have raised questions concerning the security of a planned shipment of more than 100 kilograms of plutonium to France.

 The Energy Department is expected next month to ship 140 kilograms of plutonium to France to be converted into mixed-oxide fuel for use in testing at a U.S. nuclear power plant for possible future energy generation. The project is intended to help advance a U.S.-Russian nonproliferation program to eliminate a combined total of almost 70 tons of plutonium.

 Antinuclear activists such as Greenpeace have long opposed the shipment, arguing that such transports could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. To demonstrate, Greenpeace activists last year were able to stop and chain themselves to a truck carrying a plutonium shipment as it traveled from a site in northern France to a facility in the south. French activists have also posted online information on the time and location of three plutonium shipments that occurred over the last two weeks, Tom Clements of Greenpeace International said today.

In an Aug. 12 letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham released Wednesday, Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas, requested information on the department's efforts to ensure that the security of the plutonium shipment would be equal to that given to shipments of nuclear material conducted within the United States. Turner also requested information on how much control the United States would relinquish over the plutonium once it leaves the country, who would assume liability in the event of an accident and whether the recent elevation of the U.S. terrorist threat level influenced security preparations for the shipment.

 "The consequences of the theft of this plutonium - - enough for over 20 nuclear weapons - - would be catastrophic," wrote Turner, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

 Turner's letter was prompted by the findings of a Government Accountability Office investigation into security measures for the plutonium shipment that he requested in June. A spokeswoman for Turner said Wednesday that the Energy Department has yet to reply to his letter.

 In addition, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a leading critic of U.S. nuclear energy officials, Tuesday sent letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Homeland Security Department requesting security-related information by Sept. 10 on the plutonium shipment.

 "It appears to me that an attack on the American plutonium that will soon be shipped to France would not pose much of a challenge, since publicly available materials suggest the trucks previously have been very easily identified, followed and filmed while traveling along highways in France, and were only lightly guarded," Markey said yesterday in a statement.

 The Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration did not respond to calls for comment.

 NRC spokesman David McIntyre refused to comment directly on Markey's letter, referring security-related questions concerning the plutonium shipment to the Energy Department.

 McIntyre did say, though, that the physical security and protection of the shipment was a "very important" consideration in the commission's decision in June to approve the export of the plutonium to France. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is familiar with French practices, McIntyre said, and is "confident" that security arrangements for the plutonium once it reaches France will be "adequate."


1:07 p.m. August 25, 2004

WASHINGTON – Some congressional Democrats raised security concerns Wednesday about a proposed shipment of 300 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium from the United States to France for conversion into a mixed-oxide fuel.

The Energy Department plans to send the plutonium by truck from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to the navy yard in Charleston, S.C., where it will be loaded on a ship bound for Cherbourg, France, as part of a U.S.-Russian nonproliferation program.

Rep. Jim Turner of Texas, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said in a letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham that he was concerned about the security of the shipment, especially when it reaches France.

"It is clear that extraordinary security is planned for the shipment," Turner said in his letter.

But, he said, he wants greater assurances that security for the shipment in France would be of the same level as planned for in the United States. He also questioned whether there had been adequate "independent oversight and review" of the shipment plan by other agencies.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., also raised concerns about the shipments. Markey, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, questioned whether the Department of Homeland Security has reviewed the plan.

The Energy Department says the shipment has been meticulously planned with high levels of security incorporated.

Once the shipment arrives in Cherbourg, it is to go by land to a French reprocessing facility, where the plutonium can be turned into a less dangerous mixed oxide. Then it is to be returned to the United States.

The Energy Department plans to use that material in four fuel assemblies at Duke Energy's Catawba nuclear power plant in South Carolina. The test assemblies are part of a U.S.-Russian program in which each country has pledged to dispose of 64 metric tons of excess plutonium.

The United States plans to dispose of its material by burning it in commercial nuclear reactors as mixed oxide. However, the initial shipments have to be sent to France because the United States has yet to build a mixed-oxide processing facility.

Details of the shipment, including timing, are classified, but it is expected to occur later this year. According to the Energy Department, the plutonium would be carried on two British vessels guarded by specially trained British troops and escorted by the U.S. Coast Guard in U.S. waters.

On the Net:

Energy Department: www.energy.gov

Source: Greenpeace International
Posted by: Greenpeace International - archive 
Posted on: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 at 8:13 AM

Greenpeace concerns over plutonium shipment echoed by US Congressmen

Paris, August 25, 2004 - Greenpeace today reiterated its opposition to the planned transport of plutonium from US to France as US Congressman Jim Turner expressed his concerns over the same controversial shipment.

Turner, a Democrat Congressman on the US Select Committee on Homeland Security, has communicated Spencer Abraham, US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, that he is concerned about the lack of security for the proposed shipment.

"This shipment is unnecessary and dangerous and must be stopped," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International. "While on the one hand Bush is voicing his concerns about international terrorism and security, on the other he is pushing forward this dangerous plan to ship nuclear material around the world. It's a relief to hear these ill-conceived plans being questioned."

Greenpeace has recently met with members of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative branch of Congress, to discuss the shipment and view a video that exposes the lack of security measures provided for previous transports of plutonium in France.

The Bush Administration plans to ship the plutonium from Charleston, South Carolina to Cherbourg, France in two lightly armed UK-flagged ships. The 140 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium would be carried in containers that would not withstand an attack by a rocket-propelled grenade (1). Once in France, the nuclear material will be transported 1,000 km south of the country in lightly guarded trucks that could also be subject to attack or theft.

Another US Congressman has also questioned adequacy of security for the shipment. Rep. Edward Markey Questions released letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday regarding the upcoming shipment (2). He expressed his concern that the Bush Administration isn't doing enough to ensure full protection against possible terrorist threats.

Greenpeace advocates treating plutonium as a nuclear waste through immobilization, which is a safer, cheaper, and more secure method.

For more information please contact:
Tom Clements - Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner, + 1 202 415 6158
Yannick Rousselet - Greenpeace France Nuclear Campaigner, +33 685 806 559
Cecilia Goin, Greenpeace International Media Officer, + 31 6 212 96 908

Notes to Editor:
(1). According to the French Government's agency IRSN - Institut de Radioprotection et Sûreté Nucléaire:


(2) News release and letter at: http://www.house.gov/markey/

To get the video clips see: http://frodo.greenpeace.org/photos/pumovies/

For domestic action to halt plutonium transport in France, see: http://www.stop-plutonium.org

For local opposition to the US plutonium shipment via Charleston, South Carolina: http://www.noplutonium.org


Lawmakers, Group Question Safety Plans For U.S. Trans-Atlantic Plutonium Shipment

Security Alarm Raised Over U.S. Plutonium Shipment

WASHINGTON, DC, August 26, 2004 (ENS) - A Texas Congressman is worried about the security of a plan by the Bush administration to ship weapons-grade plutonium from the U.S. to France for reprocessing. The Department of Energy plans to transport 140 kilograms (300 pounds) of pure weapons-usable putonium from the port of Charleston, South Carolina to France to be made into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel and returned to the United States.

Congressman Jim Turner, a Texas Democrat who is the Ranking Member on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, wrote to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on August 12, expressing his concerns about the adequacy of security arrangements for the shipment.
The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration plans to ship the plutonium from the Charleston Naval Weapons Station to Cherbourg, France, in two armed, UK-flagged ships, the Pacific Teal and Pacific Pintail, owned by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, now a subsidiary of Westinghous.

Because the United States lacks the capability to reprocess the plutonium, the French state-owned plutonium company Areva/Cogema will convert the material into MOX which would then be shipped back to South Carolina for testing in the Catawba reactor, owned by Duke Energy Corporation.

"The shipment is in preparation for the construction of facilities at DOE's Savannah River Site that will eventually convert 34 metric tons of U.S. plutonium into mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel rods as part of DOE's efforts in parallel with Russia to dispose of excess plutonium from nuclear weapons," Turner wrote in his letter to the energy secretary.

Turner recognizes the "critical importance" of disposing of fissile material to international nuclear nonproliferation efforts, but he writes that in the post-September 11 environment, it is also critical to ensure that such material does not fall into the hands of terrorists.

"The consequences of the theft of this plutonium - enough for over twenty nuclear weapons - would be catastrophic," Turner writes.

Turner is not the only lawmaker who is worried about the shipment. On Tuesday, Congressman Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Homeland Security raising questions about security of the shipment.
Vulnerability of the shipment also had been detailed by Greenpeace International in a formal intervention against the export license which the Department of Energy filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). On June 15, the NRC approved the export license.

"This shipment of weapons plutonium presents an attractive target for those wishing to get their hands on plutonium and must be stopped," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International, which has demonstrated against the shipment of plutonium on the high seas for years.

Previous shipments between Japan and Europe have taken place without incident since July 1999. The same two ships carried the first shipment from France to Japan and have been in continuous service ever since.

But just because past shipments have been accomplished safely does not guarantee the safety of this shipment, Clements warns. "While the U.S. scolds the world about halting the spread of weapons-usable materials, the shipment vividly underscores the proliferation double standard by which the U.S. operates," he said. "We urge Congress to fully investigate this proposal and take steps to stop it."

Turner explained in his letter that he has asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative branch of Congress, to "examine the security measures which are planned for the shipment within the United States, in transit across the Atlantic Ocean, and within France."

The Texas congressman said he also asked the GAO to investigate the extent to which the National Nuclear Security Administration coordinated plans for the shipment with other government agencies.

He says it appears that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "did not perform an independent review of security measures, relying instead on assurances of executive branch agencies that security would meet the standards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The executive branch in turn appears to have relied upon assurances provided by the governments of the United Kingdom and France that security would meet IAEA standards."
Turner asks if Bush administration officials considered providing an armed escort for the ships, as Japan provided for its 1993 plutonium shipment, "and if not, why not?"

The U.S. Coast Guard, which would provide security within the U.S. 12 mile limit, has confirmed that UK police on the ships would not be allowed to control their weapons, but it is unknown if U.S. authorities would take over shipboard control of the weapons, which include 30 mm machine guns, Clements said.

Clements says that "GAO staff members recently met with Greenpeace International to discuss the shipment and view a shocking video that exposes the lack of security measures provided for previous transports of domestically owned plutonium in France."

Clements also questions whether the French plutonium shipping containers can withstand an attack by a rocket propelled grenade.

Greenpeace advocates treating plutonium as a nuclear waste through immobilization which is safer, cheaper, and more secure method than the MOX route.

Clements faults the DOE for declining to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the shipment, thus denying the public a chance to comment on the environmental and proliferation implications of the proposed shipment.

Congressman Turner's letter is posted on the House of Representatives' website.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights Reserved.




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