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E-M:/ Request to Jennifer Granholm for help in halting MOX shipments across Michigan
- Subject: E-M:/ Request to Jennifer Granholm for help in halting MOX shipments across Michigan
- From: Terry Lodge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 19:33:12 -0800 (PST)
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Terry Lodge <email@example.com>
Enviro-Mich message from Terry Lodge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On November 5, I emailed this petition to Jennifer
Granholm, Michigan's Attorney-General, seeking for her
to intervene on behalf of the Michigan public against
the U.S. Department of Energy's proposed shipments of
mixed-oxide plutonium fuel across Michigan, slated to
take place prior to November 16, 1999.
The MOX fuel is made from nuclear warheads; it
contains significant plutonium and will be made more
radioactive by use in a nuclear reactor (requiring a
couple hundred thousand years' more storage). Canada,
where the MOX shipments are destined, has no long-term
high level radioactive waste program comparable to the
U.S.', so the waste fuel would almost certainly end up
back in this country.
The U.S. plans to ship 50 lbs. to northeastern
Ontario for experimental use in an aging Canadian
reactor believed to contain seriously embrittled steam
tubes. Russia is to send a similar amount, via ship
which would come up the St. Lawrence Seaway, perhaps
as far as Sarnia or Goderich, Ontario sometime in the
next couple of weeks.
The anti-MOX fuel movement in Michigan and Ohio is
gaining visibility and strength. Over the past couple
of weeks, several Michigan congresspersons have
actively attempted to persuade DOE to drop the idea of
transport across Michigan.
But beyond the transport issue, using MOX fuel in
aging U.S. or Canadian reactors raises many questions
yet unanswered about safety and the heightened storage
problems that attend high-level radwaste disposal.
I urge as many readers of this page, whether they
be Michigan residents or not, to email Attorney
General Granholm to help persuade her to seek court
action to stop the MOX shipments. After mid-November,
the Russians cannot ship their contribution of MOX to
the experiment because their freighter will be
icebound in an Artic Circle port until spring. A delay
until that time will afford a greater chance to
examine the dangers of this inherently-flawed
Jennifer Granholm's email address is
Please join the many people who have passed
resolutions, participated in demonstrations, asked
policymakers the questions, and generally have been
working for years to stop this questionable idea.
To: Jennifer Granholm, Esq.
Attorney-General of Michigan
Dear Attorney-General Granholm:
I am a long-time environmentalist and attorney in
Toledo. I have for over two decades challenged various
commercial nuclear power-related activities in the
Midwest. In recent weeks, I have become involved in
the burgeoning movement within Michigan and other
Midwestern states against the pending shipments of
plutonium-based Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel which the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) plans, imminently, to
transport through Michigan, under the auspices of a
program referred to as the "Parallex" project.
On behalf of dozens of activists, who in turn speak
for hundreds or thousands of Michigan residents and
voters, I request, urgently, that you please consider
bringing on the public's behalf a court challenge to
slow down and hopefully, stop, DOE's planned
transshipments of plutonium-laden MOX fuel. The source
for the material is decommissioned nuclear bombs.
Plutonium, as you probably know, is one of the two
or three most potentially lethal substances on Earth.
It is believed by doctors that a single atom of
plutonium, when lodged in the lung, can cause lung
cancer. It has been estimated that if properly
dispersed throughout the world, a single kilo of pure
plutonium could induce lung cancer in all of the
Earth's 6 billion human population. We believe that
the extreme hazards posed by its dispersion and
cleanup from an accidental release have not been duly
considered by DOE in documents it has published
pursuant to the National Environmental Policies Act
We have identified several major flaws that could
comprise the basis for a court attack under NEPA.
NEPA, of course, requires environmental analysis of
the potential impacts on the human environment of many
projects, such as this, which are dependent on a
federal permitting process to go forward.
The gist of what has occurred is that DOE has
issued only an "environmental assessment" (EA) and a
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), instead of
performing a full-blown Environmental Impact
Statement, which legally must contain far more
extensive information and analysis, and must also be
subjected to far more rigorous scrutiny before it can
We understand that several members of Congress
have personally attempted to intervene with the DOE at
the Secretary level this week, but that as of this
moment, DOE still intends to go forward with the
proposed shipments, and that they will be concluded by
mid-November 1999. You can therefore understand the
urgency that we place on your becoming involved.
What I present below is the product of
collaboration of many people with whom I have been in
close and frequent correspondence this week. We have
much more information to provide and, in fact, I am
nowhere near as expert on this topic as many with whom
I've been in contact in recent days.
If you can see your way clear to involve your
office in a highly-visible way against the DOE's
plans, we can almost instantaneously put you in
contact with numerous lay and technical experts who
can provide research, documents, analysis and
I ask that you let me know at your very earliest
convenience whether you will be taking up the cause of
the Michigan public on this issue.
Thank you very much.
Terry J. Lodge, Esq.
316 North Michigan St., Suite 520
Toledo, Ohio 43624-1627
Fax (419) 255-8582
The Parallex EA/FONSI are not disinterested,
objective findings in which alternatives are fairly
considered and the larger picture is laid out.
INSUFFICIENT ECONOMIC ANALYIS OF THE OVERALL MOX FUEL
Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, internationally-recognized
expert on radioactive waste management (a partial
resume of whom is included at the end of this email
message) has concluded there is insufficient attention
given to the economic aspects of the entire MOX fuel
cycle. Much of the first two sections of this
discussion are taken directly from the analysis that
Dr. Resnikoff has given to Rep. Deb Stabenow.
The proposed program would remove plutonium from
warheads and mix this plutonium with uranium for fuel
for nuclear reactors. Following reactor operation,
the nuclear fuel would be intensely radioactive. As a
result, the remaining plutonium would not be easily
utilized for nuclear weapons. This would serve an
important safeguard purpose.
But the same purpose could be served by mixing
non-critical amounts of plutonium with liquid
high-level waste at Hanford and Savannah River, and
solidifying this material into glass logs for ultimate
disposal. That is, there is absolutely no need to
pass plutonium through nuclear reactors to safeguard
it from future use for nuclear weapons.
The EA does clearly state the physical fact that
the Pu is not used up when inserted into CANDU or
light-water reactors. Some Pu is used, while
additional fissionable Pu is created from
uranium-238. But in addition, higher isotopes of Pu
and curium-242 and 244 are created. That is, the
nuclear waste that is generated from MOX fuel is more
hazardous and long-lived than the waste from
once-through uranium fuel.
The EA states that once used, the MOX fuel will be
taken care of in by Canada's radwaste program. But the
EA does not admit that Canada does not have a
high-level waste repository. Though the irradiated
MOX fuel will become the property of Canada, Canada
does not have the means to properly dispose of this
hazardous waste. Nor does the U.S., but arguably the
U.S. is further along and has far better economic
resources to do the job properly. The irradiated
CANDU MOX fuel may eventually return to the U.S.
The DOE should be required to produce an EIS (not
EA) that objectively considers the Pu disposal program
in its entirety. Such an EIS would consider MOX fuel
fabrication, transportation, and waste disposal. This
would be compared to the alternative of mixing Pu with
liquid high-level waste and converting this waste into
borosilicate glass logs for ultimate disposal. The
EIS would compare the relative hazard of irradiated
uranium fuel and MOX fuel. Without this larger
picture, we are left examining a dot of gray matter
and wondering whether it is part of an elephant.
FAILURE TO CONSIDER ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF PROPOSED
Dr. Resnikoff also believes that the lack of
consideration of the economic consequences of the
proposed action and its alternatives is a fatal flaw.
Yet the Parallex EA does not consider the issue. This
is similar to DOE's failing in the recent Yucca
Mountain repository EIS.
The economic consequences of a transportation
accident can be considerable. In a severe accident, a
major area would have to be evacuated and
decontaminated. These economic consequences could
have easily been calculated by Sandia Labs for DOE
since the RADTRAN computer -- the same software used
by Sandia to calculate the health impacts of an
accident which appear in the EA -- could provide these
numbers if a few easily obtained parameters were
input. Instead, SANDIA zeroed out the input
parameters, so the economic consequences were not
To give one indicator of the magnitude, in 1978
Sandia calculated the impact of a transportation
accident involving Pu in an urban area (TRUE Study,
SAND77-1927, May 1978). For a shipment involving
approximately one million curies of plutonium, the
economic consequences would be $2 billion, in 1978
dollars. That cost would be much higher in 1999
dollars. Obviously, with an inventory of 149 Ci of
Pu, the Parallax shipments would be much smaller and
the economic consequences would be less. But the
total amount of Pu that could be transported is over
ten times greater than the inventory considered in the
urban accident in the TRUE study.
SEGMENTATION OF THE PROJECT: ANALYSIS FOR NEPA
PURPOSES HAS BEEN ARTIFICIALLY RESTRICTED TO 50 LBS.
OF MOX FUEL BEING SHIPPED AS PART OF A SMALL
'EXPERIMENT,' YET IF THE 'EXPERIMENT' IS DEEMED
SUCCESSFUL, 42 TONS OF WEAPONS-GRADE PLUTONIUM ARE
LIKELY TO BECOME MOX FUEL FOR SHIPMENT
The proposal has an artificially narrowed scope.
DOE now claims this is a one-time "experiment" and
that there will not be further shipments from the
United States, through Michigan, to Canada. But MOX
formulation is more likely to become an ongoing fuel
cycle supplementation campaign, since there are 42
tons of weapons-grade plutonium at Los Alamos which
could be reformulated into fuel rods and transshipped
to Canadian reactor sites. The Parallex EA focuses on
one shipment or three shipments with a total plutonium
(Pu) weight of 0.84 lb. But literally thousands of may
ultimately be sent to Canada from throughout the U.S.
This potential is not addressed in the EA.
The EA contains skimpy details on worst-case
accident scenarios for the fuel being shipped in this
"experiment," especially in the tranportation part of
the EA and FONSI (see, for example, the Risk
Assessment's vague reference to the potential for a
50-mile-long plume of plutonium going aloft from a
fire of unspecified severity).
If this "experiment" is a success, DOE will at
some point in the future try to routinize the
shipments using a later EA that points to the adequacy
of this earlier EA. Assuming an uneventful shipment of
the 3 currently-proposed loads, will become the rubber
stamp for literally thousands of MOX shipments.
DOE must be asked whether, if the "experiment" is
completely or even only moderately successful, will
the U.S. government still NOT ship as much MOX as
I have attached an appellate decision involving a
challenge by the State of South Carolina to the
shipment of spent fuel rods from reactors in Europe
earlier in this decade. The State lost 2-1, but the
dissenter's opinion contains interesting arguments
which might have applicability here. The Fourth
Circuit decision is available online as South Carolina
v. O'Leary, http://laws.findlaw.com/4th/951182p.html.
UNDULY NARROW SCOPE OF PROJECT HAMPERS ANALYSIS OF
ALTERNATIVES AND OF ACCIDENT SCENARIOS TO DETERMINE
THE INTRINSIC THREAT TO THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
This is a joint effort involving the governments of
Russia and Canada. Apparently the Russian nuclear
material will arrive via ship up the St. Lawrence
Seaway, to Goderich, or Sarnia, Ontario, meaning that
it will have to pass through Lakes Ontario, Erie, St.
Clair and Huron and the St. Clair River. The EA
doesn't in any way address the potential accident
scenarios or impacts to the environment and public
health from an accident involving the Russian
By virtue of the fact that the U.S. portion of this
joint "experiment" involving U.S., Canada and Russia
requires DOE to obtain a federal permit, the ENTIRE
project and not just the U.S. portion of it must be
scrutinized in an EIS. It is not a lawful excuse for
not including the Russian contribution of nuclear
material that neither the the DOE does not have
control over the Russian portion of the "experiment."
THE PROPOSED RECOMBINATION OF MOX INTO FUEL PELLETS
AND ITS TRANSPORTATION IS A 'MAJOR FEDERAL ACTION'
WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT PHRASE AS USED IN NEPA AND
CEQ REGS, WHICH SHOULD HAVE FORCED PREPARATION OF A
FULL-BLOWN EIS AND NOT JUST AN EA
MOX fuel has been very minimally used in U.S.
commercial power reactors. There is very little
experience with its transport. All accident scenarios
are strictly theoretical and hence are complete
>> 1. Laboratory Problems at Los Alamos are Neither
Mentioned Nor Accounted For in Laboratory Accident
In March 1999, a study at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory (LANL) questioned whether the lab could
successfully fabricate mixed oxide test fuel using
weapons-grade plutonium. One root of the problem
appears to be that “weapons-grade plutonium morphology
(shape) differs significantly than that of
reactor-grade plutonium.” See LA-UR-99-1533, "Nuclear
fuels technologies status report on feed materials
baseline development and test fuel fabrication
progress," H. T. Blair, P. Chodak, S. L. Eaton, and A.
D. Neuman, Los Alamos National Laboratory, March,
The DOE’s goal was to begin conducting a “High
Power Test” of MOX fuel pellets during April, 1999 in
the “Advanced Test Reactor” (ATR) at the Idaho
National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. See
FY 1999 Annual Operating Plan, (Rev 0, October 1,
1998). But things have not proceeded on schedule.
According to the March 1999 report, LANL has
failed to make satisfactory MOX test fuel that
involves uranium oxide powder derived from the
“Ammonium Uranyl Carbonate” (AUC) process -- the same
process that has supplied uranium oxide for more than
90% of the world’s supply of commercial MOX fuel.
Since making MOX fuel for Light Water Nuclear Reactors
generally involves a mix of 3-5% plutonium oxide
powder and 95-97% uranium oxide powder, it is obvious
that the uranium must be compatible with the
In the past two years alone, at least fourteen
(14)batches of MOX test fuel pellets for this project
have failed to meet technical specification and/or had
some or all of the following unacceptable problems:
"end capping,” cracking on top, or bubbling when
submerged in alcohol. FY’s 1998 (Rev. 8) and 1999
(Rev. 0) Annual Operating Plans, DOE Office of Fissile
In 1998, DOE’s preferred MOX conversion
alternative called HYDOX was “retracted from the ARIES
line by NMT-DO for safety reasons.” September 28, 1998
Memorandum from U.S. DOE-Los Alamos Area Office to
Bruce Matthews, Division Director, NMT-DO, LANL,
MS-E500, "Approval of ARIES Project Hazard Analyses
and Required Safety Controls," Attachment 1, p. 10.
Although the Los Alamos plutonium programs
--HYDOX, MOX, TIGR –- continue to encounter delays and
failures, the lab remains the Department’s “preferred
alternative” to fabricate MOX “Lead Test Assemblies”
for use in commercial reactors. The Department has
provided no indication that the Los Alamos R&D
projects have been marked (so far) by failure, so it
is unknown whether the problem is one of site-specific
incompetency or generic technical difficulty
associated with handling and processing weapons-grade
plutonium of different shape, size distribution, and
elemental composition than reactor-grade plutonium.
What IS known, however, is that there is no
mention or discussion of these processing problems in
the EA. These problems are neither quantified nor
factored into the computation of accident scenarios at
the laboratory. Yet they bear directly upon the
credibility of the accident scenarios which DOE has
minimized and deems unworthy of being fully explored
in an Environmental Impact Statement.
By not fully incorporating the above process
problems into the mix of factors which affect
laboratory processing of MOX, the lab accident
scenarios in the EA do not reflect the true potential
>> No Analysis of Fire-Associated Accident Risk <<
In the EA's "Risk Assessment" (Appendix D), DOE
acknowledges in vague terms that an extreme accident
scenario involving MOX fuel would foresee a fire and
distribution of plutonium compounds via airborne plume
up to 50 miles downwind. The mere possibility is
mentioned, without any further analysis.
No account is taken in the miniscule narrative of
accident scenarios of the different impacts on
high-population versus low-population locales for a
major transportation accident.
COMPARED WITH DOE CRITERIA FOR WHAT CONSTITUTES A
'MAJOR PROJECT' FOR WHICH AN EIS IS REQUIRED, THE
PROPOSED PROJECT CLEARLY IS A 'MAJOR PROJECT'
Review of the kinds of activities for which DOE
typically requires the preparation of an Environmental
Impact Statement, versus those which DOE believes
require only an EA, suggests that this "experiment"
must be analyzed within the context of an EIS and not
merely an EA/FONSI.
10 CFR Part 1021, Subpart D, Appendix D covers
Classes of Actions that Normally Require EISs" and
> D2. Siting/construction/operation/decommissioning
of nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities
> D3. Siting/construction/operation/decommissioning
of uranium enrichment facilities
of reactors (defined as "D4 Siting, construction,
operation, and decommissioning of power reactors,
nuclear material production reactors, and test and
> D7. Siting/construction/operation/decommissioning
of major treatment, storage, and disposal facilities
for high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel.
> D10. Siting, construction, operation, and
decommissioning of major treatment, storage, and
disposal facilities for high-level waste and spent
nuclear fuel, including geologic repositories, but not
including onsite replacement or upgrades of storage
facilities for spent nuclear fuel at DOE sites where
such replacement or upgrade will not result in
increased storage capacity
Contrast these with the following excerpts from
Appendix C to Subpart D to Part 1021, entitled
"Classes of Actions that Normally Require EAs But Not
Necessarily EISs". It cannot be said that these types
of projects are analogous to the MOX mix-and-ship
> C12. Siting/construction/operation of energy
system prototypes (C12 Siting, construction, and
operation of energy system prototypes including, but
not limited to, wind resource, hydropower, geothermal,
fossil fuel, biomass, and solar energy pilot projects)
> C15. Siting/construction/operation of research
and development incinerators/nonhazardous waste
incinerators [C15 Siting, construction (or
expansion), and operation of research and development
incinerators for any type of waste and of any other
incinerators that would treat nonhazardous solid waste
(as designated in 40 CFR Part 261.4(b)].
large waste storage [C16 Siting, construction (or
modification to increase capacity), operation, and
decommissioning of packaging and unpacking facilities
(that may include characterization operations) and
large storage facilities (greater than approximately
50,000 square feet in area) for waste, except
high-level radioactive waste, generated onsite or
resulting from activities connected to site
operations. These actions do not include storage,
packaging, or unpacking of spent nuclear fuel.
Partial Resume of Dr. Marvin Resnikoff
Dr. Marvin Resnikoff is Senior Associate at
Radioactive Waste Management Associates and is an
international consultant on radioactive waste
management issues. He is Principal Manager at
Associates and is Project Director for risk assessment
studies on radioactive waste facilities and
transportation of radioactive materials.
Dr. Resnikoff has concentrated exclusively on
radioactive waste issues since 1974. He has conducted
studies on the remediation and closure of the leaking
Maxey Flats, Kentucky radioactive landfill for Maxey
Flats Concerned Citizens, Inc. under a grant from the
Environmental Protection Agency, the Wayne and
Maywood, New Jersey thorium Superfund sites and on
proposed low-level radioactive waste facilities at
Martinsville (Illinois), Boyd County (Nebraska), Wake
County (North Carolina), Ward Valley (California) and
Hudspeth County (Texas). He has conducted studies on
transportation accident risks and probabilities for
the State of Nevada and dose reconstruction studies of
oil pipe cleaners in Mississippi and Louisiana,
residents of Canon City, Colorado near a former
uranium mill, residents of West Chicago, Illinois near
a former thorium processing plant, and residents and
former workers at a thorium processing facility in
Maywood, New Jersey. In West Chicago he calculated
exposures and risks due to thorium contamination and
served as an expert witness for plaintiffs A Muzzey, S
Bryan, D Schroeder and assisted counsel for plaintiffs
KL West and KA West. He is presently serving as an
expert witness for a separate group of plaintiffs in
West Chicago, including R Dassion. He also evaluated
radiation exposures and risks in worker compensation
cases involving G Boeni and M Talitsch, former workers
at Maywood Chemical Works thorium processing plant.
He is presently working on major personal injury cases
involving former uranium mines and mills in Karnes
Under a contract with the State of Utah, Dr.
Resnikoff is a technical consultant to DEQ on the
proposed dry cask storage facility for high-level
waste at Skull Valley, Utah and proposed
storage/transportation casks. He is assisting the
State on licensing proceedings before the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission. In addition, at hearings
before state commissions and in federal court, he has
investigated proposed dry storage facilities at the
Point Beach (WI), Prairie Island (MN) and
In Canada, he has conducted studies on behalf of
the Coalition of Environmental Groups and Northwatch
for hearings before the Ontario Environmental
Assessment Board on issues involving radioactive waste
in the nuclear fuel cycle and Elliot Lake tailings and
the Interchurch Uranium Coalition in Environmental
Impact Statement hearings before a Federal panel
regarding the environmental impact of uranium mining
in Northern Saskatchewan. He has also worked on
behalf of the Morningside Heights Consortium regarding
radium-contaminated soil in Malvern and on behalf of
Northwatch regarding decommissioning the Elliot Lake
tailings area before a FEARO panel. More recently he
completed a study for Concerned Citizens of Manitoba
regarding transportation of irradiated fuel to a
Canadian high-level waste repository.
He was formerly Research Director of the
Radioactive Waste Campaign, a public interest
organization conducting research and public education
on the radioactive waste issue. His duties with the
Campaign included directing the research program on
low-level commercial and military waste and irradiated
nuclear fuel transportation, writing articles, fact
sheets and reports, for-mulating policy and networking
with numerous environmental and public interest
organizations and the media. He is author of the
Campaign's book on "low-level" waste, Living Without
Landfills, and co-author of the Campaign's book,
Deadly Defense, A Citizen Guide to Military Landfills.
Between 1981 and 1983, Dr. Resnikoff was a Project
Director at the Council on Economic Priorities, a New
York-based non-profit research organization, where he
authored the 390-page study, The Next Nuclear Gamble,
Transportation and Storage of Nuclear Waste. The CEP
study details the hazard of transporting irradiated
nuclear fuel and outlines safer options.
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