YOUR COMMENTS NEEDED — GO ON RECORD FOR THE FUTURE!
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires governments and corporations to seek, record and respond to PUBLIC INPUT on major hazardous projects, like MOX PLUTONIUM FUEL through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The EIS is required under NEPA to "analyze all possible environmental impacts of the proposed project." NEPA is a powerful tool for the public because a deficient EIS is open to LEGAL CHALLENGE. The the public is invited to comment on the DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL PLUTONIUM DISPOSITION EIS. You can comment on the SEIS using the handy e-mail researched and written by experts provided here. DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS IS OCTOBER 10, 2012. Background on the MOX issue is provided below and elsewhere on nonukesyall.org.
This handy e-mail action letter will help you make the most of this great opportunity to make a difference in plutonium disposition.
You may edit the letter as you wish. There are many resources and links on nonukesyall.org to help you get more information about plutonium and plutonium disposition options. Because the MOX plutonium program relies heavily on the buy-in of Tennessee Valley Authority, the TVA board is being sent a copy of your comments as well.
MOX BACKGROUND In 1994, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) declared one-half the U.S. inventory of plutonium to e surplus and decided to turn tons of the nuclear weapons-grade material into an experimental, risky and proliferating nuclear reactor fuel called mixed-oxide, MOX, for mixing oxides of plutonium with conventional uranium for a different breed of fuel. DOE proposes to process 50 TONS of plutonium into MOX, a risky business indeed when 15 POUNDS can make a bomb like that which devastated Nagasaki at the close of World War II. PLUTONIUM is man--made and one of the most toxic materials on Earth. It is fissionable and, except for uranium, the only material that produces a nuclear explosion. Plutonium has low-energy radioactivity which means you can hold it in your hand, but it is deadly if even a speck is inhaled. The U.S. and Russia went overboard making plutonium in the Cold War, so now there are tons and tons of this dangerous man-made element with a virtually eternal lifespan on hand and it is a colossal security risk.
There is widespread agreement that something must be done to secure plutonium from future use in nuclear bombs. Proponents of the MOX boondoggle purport to "burn" the indestructible plutonium but they are really relying on the intense radiation that results from fissioning radioactive fuel in a nuclear reactor to protect the plutonium from theft. There are currently no customers for the MOX plutonium fuel and if any utilities were to put up their aging reactors, they would face 10 years of rigorous testing and licensing for commercial use of MOX. DOE has been heavily courting Tennessee Valley Authority, another federal agency, to put up its aged ice condenser Sequoyah near Chattanooga, TN, which is bound to the weapons-grade tritium production mission already. In addition, DOE is zeroing in on Browns Ferry, GE Fukushima-style reactors in AL. Another reactor on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State rumored to be in talks with DOE backed off because of citizen pressure. The SEIS also speculates about unbuilt reactors and generic reactor licensing, evidence of the blind alley MOX now finds itself in. Because the failure of the MOX program is now obvious, the NEPA mandate to consider alternatives to the proposed project must be revisited. Other concerns with MOX are listed above in the comment letter you can sign and send.
There is a better way to secure plutonium, via PLUTONIUM IMMOBILIZATION which is the process of securing plutonium in the glassification process used to stabilize highly radioactive tank waste at Savannah River Site (SRS). Ironically, the vast inventory of tank waste still unprocessed in 60-year-old underground tanks at SRS is leftover from past decades of separating plutonium from irradiated reactor fuel by chopping the radioactive reactor waste into little pieces and dissolving everything in hazardous industrial acids. The tank waste contains all the highly radioactive byproducts from the reactor fuel that produced the plutonium we are now trying to manage. The highly radioactive waste is supposed to be turned into a stable borosilicate glass in the Defense Waste Processing Facility's vitrification project. Managing disposition of the plutonium inventory and high-level waste inventory at SRS in one unified program administered by DOE's Environmental Management program should be given due consideration in the EIS.
Year plutonium was discovered by Glenn Seaborg and others
Minimum amount of plutonium required for bomb
1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
Amount of plutonium used in Nagasaki bomb
Average amount of plutonium used in modern atom bomb
Estimated amount of U.S. weapons-grade plutonium
85,000 kilograms (93.5 tons)
Estimated amount of Russian weapons-grade plutonium
160,000 kilograms (176 tons)
Hazards associated with plutonium
Radiation, fire, inhalation, ingestion, criticality, reactivity, decay
Length of time that
plutonium 239 (weapons-grade) remains hazardous
(Ten 24,000-year half-lives)
Form of plutonium most hazardous to life
Plutonium oxide powder
What happens to plutonium metal when exposed to air
Gradually turns to
plutonium oxide powder
Lethal amount of plutonium oxide powder (inhaled)
Lethal amount of plutonium oxide powder (ingested)
Amount of sugar substitute in average 1 gram package
Excerpted from Stop Plutonium Fuel: Plutonium Index, compiled by Don Moniak. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, www.bredl.org