BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
PO Box 88 ~
Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone
(336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 10, 2012
Louis Zeller 336-982-2691
Charles Utley 706-772-5558
Garry Morgan 256-218-0124
Sandy Kurtz 423-488-5668
GROUP CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF PLUTONIUM FUEL CONTRACTOR
Today environmental groups in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee called for a government investigation of the principal federal contractor for the Department of Energy’s plutonium fuel program. In comments sent to the US Department of Energy, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League detailed the risks to public health and national security posed by the plutonium fuel program and the actions of Areva, the French government conglomerate which is part of Shaw Areva Mox Services. The group cited a legal dispute between Areva and the Tennessee Valley Authority over a $76 million charge for fuel services. The costs were later reduced to $26 million but without explanation.
Louis Zeller, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said, “We believe that Areva represents a threat to public health in the Central Savannah River Area. And their dispute with TVA indicates financial risks for people in the Tennessee Valley who depend on it for electric power.”
The League’s chapters joined the call for an investigation. Charles Utley, spokesman for Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff in Georgia, said, “How much profit is our health and survival worth compared to the economic interests of a few greedy people? Areva and its allies are only interested in the bottom line. We cannot let them line their pockets off the health of others.” Utley is the League’s Environmental Justice Campaign Coordinator.
Garry Morgan, who leads the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team in Alabama, said, “The use of plutonium fuel in aging, defective TVA nuclear reactors is compounded insanity. It is dangerous and increases the risk of disaster. The enrichment and transportation process increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.” Morgan added that there is long term storage plan for any nuclear reactor's highly radioactive trash. Weapons grade plutonium used in MOX fuel does not solve any radioactive waste problem; it complicates an existing trash problem by producing more highly radioactive nuclear trash.
Sandy Kurtz, who leads the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team in Tennessee, said, “While we made a worthwhile peace deal with Russia to get rid of nuclear weapons, it does not mean we should pull out highly radioactive plutonium and run it through our commercial nuclear plants thereby creating more radioactive waste. Let’s just bury it or put it in glass. Our aging, unsafe nuclear reactors, especially Browns Ferry, don’t need MOX problems we can easily avoid.” Kurtz serves as the League’s Vice President for the region.
Presently, Shaw Areva Mox Services is constructing a plutonium fuel factory at the DOE’s Savannah River Site. TVA is in negotiation with the DOE to use the plutonium fuel in its nuclear power plants at Browns Ferry in Alabama and Sequoyah in Tennessee. For over a decade the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has called for the abolition of the federal plan to use nuclear warhead material in nuclear power plants.