Activists in 6 European, and 3 Asian countries are joining forces with activists and NGOs in the US, Canada and Russia to collectively say "NIX MOX" — and reject the risky experimental scheme to put weapons-grade plutonium 239 into civilian power reactors as a fuel. Mixed plutonium and uranium oxide fuel is called "MOX." In all, activities are taking place in 36 cities across the globe.
In all these places, joint statements from Russian and Western non-governmental organizations will be released. These statements carry endorsement from a total of 204 organizations to date, calling on Clinton and Yeltsin to halt the MOX development program the two nations are pursuing. The joint statements and lists of action participants in the U.S., Canada and Russia follow this release.
Since the announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy, early in 1996 that weapons- grade plutonium 239 from nuclear weapons production in both the U.S. and Russia would be diverted to use as nuclear reactor fuel, and taxpayer dollars diverted to pay the nuclear cartel, concerned citizens in the U.S., Russia and many European countries have been confronted with a common threat. European corporations, specifically BNFL, Siemen's, Belgonucleaire and COGEMA are all contenders for contracts to fabricate the plutonium MOX fuel, in Russia and the U.S, while nuclear power stations in both countries would receive direct tax subsidy in this program.
In a variation on this same scheme, U.S. and Russian plutonium may be sent to Canada for irradiation in CANDU reactors. People across Canada are sending a clear message that this is not an acceptable option. Their message is that the CANDU reactors that are closed should stay that way!
Said Mary Olson of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, "People concerned about nuclear dangers, impacts on the environment and nuclear proliferation around the world are already a single affected community. When we take action together, then others can see this." She added, "the MOX program if implemented would affect all of us, which is why we will act together to stop it."
Plutonium storage and disposition deserve high priority attention, but alternatives to MOX are available to immobilize plutonium and make it less of a security threat. These alternatives are cheaper, quicker and involve fewer steps, thus likely resulting in less production waste and fewer releases to the environment.
"There is no significant experience with using weapons-grade plutonium as a fuel, which poses greater safety issues than commercial plutonium. This is an experiment we shouldn't be conducting," said Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Both commercial and weapons-grade plutonium would have a significantly greater radiological impact (more than 2 times) than uranium fuel, in the case of a major reactor accident, according to a 1997 report by Takagi, et al, entitled "A Comprehensive Social Impact Assessment of MOX use in Light Water Reactors."
"MOX presents too big a risk to human health and international security. It would intensify global circulation of plutonium and increase the chance that the deadly bomb material would be diverted for use in nuclear weapons. Just a tiny speck of inhaled plutonium is enough to cause cancer. Physicians for Social Responsibility strongly recommends that the U.S. and Russia nix the MOX approach and explore safer options for plutonium disposition, like immobilization" said Lisa Ledwidge, Associate Director for Security Programs, Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Another key concern for activists on International NIX MOX Action day is the lining of nuclear utility and nuclear vendor corporation's pockets with taxpayer dollars. "MOX is just another economic boondoggle and taxpayer rip-off. It's time to give renewable energy its first chance before we give nuclear power a second chance," said Scott Denman, executive director of the Safe Energy Communication Council.
MOX Action Day was initiated by lead organizations in the US and Russia who oppose MOX since it unnecessarily places people and the environment at even greater risk, than the already substantial risks associated with use of uranium fuel. This leadership crafted a joint set of statements that are being delivered to President Clinton and President Yeltsin today. The statements which follow have the support of 204 grassroots organizations (to date) in 12 countries.