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E-M:/ Urgent sign-on letter to Michigan's Attorney General re injunction to stop MOX shipment



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Enviro-Mich message from Terry Lodge <tjlodge50@yahoo.com>
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Dear Friends:

   We are looking for Civic Leaders, Citizens, Local
Governments, Civic, Environmental, Peace and Justice
groups, including National and International
organizations to sign on to the following letter to
the
Attorney General of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm,
urging her to seek an immediate legal injunction to
stop the proposed shipment of MOX through Michigan. We
need names of organizations (or individuals) and
addresses. We will probably send it out in the early
part of the week, due to the Department of Energy's
desire to ship quickly. However, we will continue
gathering signatures beyond that time. Your voice
counts!!!

   Secondly, we are urging the Attorney General to
sue the DOE regarding National Environmental Policies
Act (NEPA) issues to stop MOX to Canada completely!   
Your support is crucial to stop these shipments!! 

   EVERYONE, and especially every resident of Michigan
or the Great Lakes who cares about this issue should
call Jennifer Granholm's office Monday morning, (or as
soon as is possible), and urge her to obtain an
immediate injunction to STOP this shipment and to sue
the DOE to stop this shipment forever. 

Attorney General of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm 
  Main office no.: (517) 373-1110
  Fax: (517) 373-3042 
  Email: GranholmJ@state.mi.us

   Please e-mail your sign-ons to 

           cumbow@greatlakes.net

I will update the list of signatures periodically.
Please do send your and/or your group's full address
and a phone number where a contact person can be
reached. Only the names and locations will be put
online to protect privacy, but we will put full
addresses on the letter to the Attorney General. Time
is of the essence. 

  We must protect these Sweetwater Seas - and Planet
Earth - Our Home!!

  Thanks to Everyone. 
                            Kay Cumbow
                        
   Those wishing more information can contact MOX Task
Force c/o Peace Education Center, 423 Albert Ave., E.
Lansing, MI 48823. 

-------------------------------------------------------
                                                
Nov. 8, 1999
  
Dear Attorney-General Granholm, 
 
   I am writing on behalf of Michigan citizens and
citizens throughout the Great Lakes region. We are
requesting that you intervene with an emergency
injunction to stop an imminent test shipment of
mixed oxide plutonium fuel by the Department of Energy
(DOE) from Los Alamos, New Mexico to Chalk River,
Ontario in Canada. This test is strongly opposed by
many Michigan, First Nation and Canadian communities.
This shipment would pass through the heart of
Michigan, and across waters connecting three of the
Great Lakes. 

History
 
    The Parallex program springs from a plan by DOE
and
Russia to disposition surplus warhead plutonium and
highly enriched uranium left over from the Cold War,
so that it would be unlikely that it would ever again
be used for making bombs.  Several options for the
plutonium disposition were chosen by DOE - to
immobilize some of it, to fabricate MOX fuel 
(plutonium mixed with uranium oxide) for use in U.S.
and Soviet reactors, and to fabricate some MOX fuel
for use in Canada’s heavy water CANDU reactors.  This
last proposal is known as the Parallex Project.

   Due to widespread and immediate public outcry, and
strong, bipartisan resistance in the Thumb of Michigan
to this scheme, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson
promised Congressman David Bonior in 1998 that the
shipment would NOT go over the Blue Water Bridge. On 
Sept. 2nd  of this year, the day before our state
legislature took a 3 week recess, DOE released the
final Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Parallex
Project, which placed a whole new area of Michigan
(all of I-75 north of Flint to the Soo) on the
finalized route. The routes that were considered
also increased from 3 in the original EA, to 7 in the
final one. There was to be no public comment.

   This was a final decision. In one of the points
listed below, there is more information about the
public comment period and the public meetings that
DOE was forced to hold as a result of public pressure.

Reasons for Opposition 

  There are MANY reasons people oppose these tests
including:
   · There has been complete subversion of democratic
process, as well as lack of respect for citizen and
local governmental review, by DOE.  FOR EXAMPLE:
Despite the fact that several Michigan residents 
made written comments specific to the Parallex Project
on  the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
for DOE’s plutonium disposition plan, not one of these
people in the Blue Water Area ( St. Clair County and
the Thumb region of Michigan) who made comments in
1996, received the draft Assessment for the Parallex
Project (EA) published in August 1997, which contained
many details of the plan, and offered a limited public
comment period. Among those who made initial comments
on Parallex to the DOE for the original EIS, and were 
therefore identified as interested parties, were a
State and a Federal Representative and the Director of
Emergency Response Services for St. Clair County, and 
other citizens.  

    Yet it was not until eight months later, long
after the comment period expired, that we discovered
the existence of this document, referenced on Canadian
websites !! (The original EIS included only vague
references to the Parallex Project - which entails the
shipments of MOX to Chalk River, for testing by both
Russia and the U.S. These tests are necessary for the
larger plan to use tons of MOX at the Bruce A reactors
in Ontario, on Lake Huron.)
   
   · Due to the extreme health and environmental
hazards posed by plutonium, and its known properties
as an ingredient in atomic bombs, this shipment of
MOX fuel through Michigan creates unacceptable risks
to the communities along the transport route,
including the following: 
    1. Possible  accident and contamination  - DOE’s
own Environmental Assessment states there could be a
possible accident with the transport truck, and its
cargo. This could also involve transboundary effects -
contamination to Canada. A severe fire could possibly
rupture the container, and aerosolize part or all of
the plutonium and uranium mixture. DOE’s  report
acknowledges that  the resulting plume could travel 50
miles.
   2. The threat of terrorism - Although this shipment
contains less fissile material than is needed to
produce an atomic bomb, a terrorist could extract  the
plutonium,  mix it with an ordinary pipe-bomb or other
explosive,  creating a formidable contamination and
health threat to any  municipality. (Even 120 grams of
plutonium, if distributed in a form where it can be
inhaled, is enough to give cancer to about 13 million
people, according to the Nobel prize winning
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear
War.)
   3. The inevitable loss of civil rights to any
community the transport passes near or through  - This
includes loss of community right to know, and
implementation of rigid security measures that could
be considerable and costly, with eventual
militarization of the route(s) used in some form,
due to the need to protect this and future shipments. 
          
  4. Complete lack of cost accounting - There have
been several GAO reports criticizing lack of adequate 
information about costs and the full details of
implementation  of the program.  Since U.S. taxpayers
are footing the bill for probably a big chunk of the
Russian, U.S. and Canadian MOX programs, we deserve to
know the full costs and scope of the plan, and to
be part of the decision-making process.
 
   · Plutonium is a very potent carcinogen. The
International Physicians for the Prevention of 
Nuclear War has stated in print that 27 micrograms of
plutonium 239, inhaled, will cause lung cancer.
Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,000 years. It
concentrates in the food chain, and crosses the
placenta. According to Water Fit to Drink, a book
found in most libraries in the state of  Michigan, if
plutonium is mixed with chlorine (ubiquitous
throughout the Great Lakes waterways, due to human
use) - it becomes 1,500 times more soluble to the
human body. 

   · There has been a subversion of the truth – a
failure to tell the whole story, with all of its
ramifications to the public. DOE, under the banner
of non-proliferation, is seeking with the larger
global nuclear power establishment to prop up the 
failing nuclear industry in Canada, the U.S.
and Russia. Cogema of France is working with Duke
Energy, and Stone and Webster in the southern U.S.
with the U.S. MOX program. British Energy, together
with Philadelphia Electric Company is seeking a
financial interest in the Bruce plants. Both France
and Britain have MOX processing plants and plutonium
reprocessing plants. They also have huge plutonium
stockpiles. It is clear that there is money to be made
here, and markets to invest in.

   ALSO, there are big differences  between the draft
EA, dated August 1997, and the final  EA, dated
January 1999. The draft spelled out  the larger
program plans to send much greater shipments of
Russian and U.S. MOX (many tons worth, equivalent to
thousands of nuclear weapons) to the aging, embrittled
Bruce A reactors on Lake Huron, if the tests at Chalk
River are successful. The Bruce A plants are currently
closed, in need of retubing.
    Retubing is an expensive proposition in CANDU
reactors. Essentially, it means that the core of the
reactor has to be rebuilt.  The final EA makes no
mention of the much larger shipments intended for
implementation, if the tests succeed. - One of the
proposed routes for the larger shipments from
Russia would be via the St. Lawrence River, with
possible off-loading at the ports of Sarnia or
Goderich, Ontario. These bigger shipments would of
course be a prime target for terrorists, and would
be a health and contamination hazard for the entire
Great Lakes region, as the final destination (Bruce A
plants) sit squarely on Lake Huron. This plutonium
fuel is highly reactive, harder to control, and
between four and eight times more expensive than
normal uranium fuel.
   Irradiated plutonium fuel contains much higher
levels of radioactivity than normal uranium fuel and
would therefore make any accident at the Bruce plants
more damaging to the Great Lakes Basin.
 
   · Although  presented to the public as a means to
reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons in Russia and the
U.S., this many-faceted proposal would, in reality,
increase world proliferation and trade of plutonium,
and help create a plutonium economy in Russia and
elsewhere.
   Although some plutonium is changed into other
highly radioactive wastes, some additional plutonium
is also created during the process. The  bulk of the
plutonium is not destroyed. These tests will also make
it more feasible to use MOX in Third World CANDU
reactors, such as Korea, and Pakistan, where there is
much concern about proliferation. And, it is easy to
lose plutonium through MOX processing, making it far
more difficult for the International Atomic Energy
Agency to keep  track of amounts, as they are
authorized to do in this plan. Handling and transport
of plutonium makes it far easier to disguise theft of
this material. 

   · Travel in November throughout Michigan in winter
can be perilous. It defies common sense to ship such a
hazardous and toxic substance in winter. 

    · There has been a lack of communication of basic
information by DOE to Michigan civic leaders, 
firefighters, police, emergency responders  and
citizens. The Final Assessment of the Parallex Project
was released on Sept. 2nd, 1999 as a done deal. There
was to be no citizen or state or local governmental
review at that point, and it was only due to the
pressure of citizens and Michigan Congresspersons
(who were able to get an amendment passed in the U.S.
House of Representatives requiring hearings on this
route before this test shipment was sent,) that a
comment period was given, and public meetings were
held. The amendment has yet to pass the U.S. Senate.)
Note that DOE calls these public MEETINGS, and not
public HEARINGS. What citizens and public officials 
have called for however are public hearings - with
testimony, cross examination, and transcripts. 

   · The International Joint Commission of the Great
Lakes for the U.S. and Canada (IJC) stated in 1978,
that there are some substances so toxic they should
not be released into the Great Lakes Basin. In 1992,
the IJC stated that the governments of the U.S. and
Canada  should make efforts to phase out any 
radionuclide that met their definition of persistent
toxin, which is a toxic substance with a half-life of
at least 8 weeks in water and bioaccumulates in the
food chain. (Plutonium easily meets this definition.)
Furthermore, in 1997, the IJC named plutonium as 1 of
4
radionuclides of concern. 
 
   All of our concerns have been seemingly dismissed
by the DOE, in their haste to ram this test through
within the next few weeks. 

Cheaper, Safer Alternative

    Further, there is an alternative which would
immobilize this surplus plutonium from the U.S. and
Russia into giant highly radioactive glass logs. This
alternative is safer, and by DOE’s own estimates is
cheaper than the one proposed, yet it achieves exactly
the same objectives as laid out in 1994 by the 
National Academy of Sciences. The idea is that
plutonium  would be mixed with high level radioactive
waste in order to discourage theft. Then the mixture
would be solidified and put into storage. This
method would not expose countless communities to the
above-mentioned threats. Indeed, there are plans to
immobilize a portion of the plutonium in both
countries. However, this past week we discovered that
funding for construction of the immobilization plant
in the U.S. was completely cut! This is senseless and
beyond understanding. 

     The DOE has conducted what appears to be a sham
public comment period in Michigan,  with hastily
convened public meetings, which Bert Stephenson, PR
Director for the DOE’s Plutonium Disposition Program
states now "was an opportunity for Michigan residents
to comment on a decision the DOE had already made."
This sounds confusing. What purpose do our comments
serve?  Did our comments count? Was this an official
comment period? Why wasn't this comment period listed
on DOE's website? Why didn't DOE mention in their
press release Sept. 2nd, that there was a document -
the Environmental Assessment for the Parallex Project
issued in January, 1999 -  that people could send for
to comment on? Was this comment period just for the
state of Michigan? We would like to know. How can
citizens have meaningful input without information?

     The Great Lakes Basin holds 1/5th of the World's
fresh water, 95 percent of our country's fresh water
and the drinking water for 40 million people. The
Great Lakes are home to a large portion of the North
American population. They are a major source of
recreation and commerce, and habitat to a rich
diversity of animal and plant life that is
irreplaceable. Surely we bear responsibility for our
impacts on this Great Lakes Basin.
     
    This is but a partial listing of grievances. We
are moved by the urgency of the moment to make this
letter brief. We will gladly supply you documentation
for the above statements at your request. We will mail
you citizen petitions and various resolutions by
Michigan municipalities, including 2 resolutions in
the State House, one by a Republican, the other
by a Democrat. We will also send you on your request
newspaper clippings etc. documenting the widespread
citizen opposition to this shipment, not just through
Michigan but throughout the entire Great Lakes region
and beyond.    
 
Respectfully, 

Kay Cumbow 
Member, MOX Task Force, Board Member for Citizens for
Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Member,
Citizens For a Healthy Planet 
                             
    And speaking for The MOX Task Force (a state-wide
coalition working to stop the transport and use of
MOX) and Every Person and Group signed below:

Groups

Campaign STOP (Stop Trafficking of Plutonium),
Kingston, Ontario, Canada 
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility,
Station Snowdon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 
Citizens For Alternatives to Chemical Contamination,
Lake Station, Michigan 
Citizens For a Healthy Planet, Brown City MI 
Don't Waste Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI 
MOX Task Force, Lansing, MI
Radiological Evaluation and Action Project, Ewen, MI
 
   Individuals 

Mary Bouchard, East Lansing, MI
Keith Gunter, Member, Citizen's Resistance Against
Fermi 2
Elise B. Harvey, Board Member, Greater Lansing Peace
Education Center, East Lansing, MI
Ward and Dorothy Hodge, Grawn, MI





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