[Date Prev][Date Next]
[cdn-nucl-l] Montreal Gazette Editorial
On Monday, the Montreal Gazette ran an editorial in favour of the MOX
program to destroy weapons plutonium. Found at
Plutonium to burn
Ontario is showing a disappointing lack of leadership on a global
environmental issue of extreme importance. The province is dragging its feet
in co-operating with Ottawa's generous proposal to try to dispose of a
frightening Cold War legacy - vast amounts of deadly plutonium once used in
Russia's nuclear warheads.
The Ontario nuclear authority that Ottawa may eventually call upon to burn
the radioactive material is not anxious to do so. Ontario Power Generation
has told the federal government it has other priorities.
In an internal memo written last March, the authority's chief nuclear
engineer describes Ottawa's plan as a "distraction," a "nuisance" and "a
What precisely is this plan that the memo so dismissively calls a
"distraction?" It merely happens to be a scheme with the potential to save
millions of lives.
Crisis-racked Russia lacks the ability to dispose of this radioactive
headache. If even a few kilos of plutonium were to waft into the environment
or fall into the hands of terrorists or a rogue state, the consequences
could be catastrophic.
We in Canada can turn our backs to this problem. Or we can offer, for a fee,
to help get rid of it. That's what the Chretien government is doing in a
spirit of civic citizenship, global-style.
In the Not in My Back Yard department, Ontario's nuclear authority has
plenty of company. Mayors of several Ontario cities, including Cornwall,
don't want plutonium shipments passing through their towns. Nor do leaders
of the Kahnawake and
Akwesasne reserves, who have threatened to resist passage of
plutonium-toting ships through the Seaway.
These are understandable concerns. But if Canada goes ahead with the plan,
it is reasonable to insist on a very high level of security shielding the
plutonium shipments - far superior to that which Russia provides.
Considering the alternative, whatever risk Canadians face is very
The fact is that few if any countries are better placed than Canada for
reducing this nuclear menace. The new stress on safety at Ontario's reactors
makes them logical places for burning the stuff.
At a time when environmental disasters can be global, defusing such a
problem is a matter of self-interest.
I'm sure anti-nuke Montrealer Gordon Edwards has been up all night writing