Southern Anti-Plutonium Campaign  

Letter to Heads of State of the Group of Eight Nations
From Non-governmental Organizations Opposing Plutonium Fuel

May 30, 2003

Dear Prime Minister or President:

On behalf of the people of all nations who want a future free of nuclear dangers, we urge you to prevent the funding of nuclear programs which use plutonium for reactor fuel. At the 2003 meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) nations in Evian, France, you have an opportunity to prohibit financial support for this dangerous plan. We understand that the current G-8 meeting agenda includes a discussion of funding for the Russian plutonium disposition program.

As you know, three years ago the United States and the Russian Federation approved an agreement for the disposition of 68 metric tons of surplus military plutonium. The disposition of weapons-grade plutonium in light water reactors is promoted by the United States while Russia favors the use of plutonium in breeder reactors. However, neither US nor Russian light water reactors were designed to use plutonium fuel, also called MOX or mixed oxide fuel. Last year leaders of the Group of Eight nations agreed to spend up to $20 billion over the next 10 years to assist nations to dismantle their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. While we support the larger goal of putting plutonium into a form which is not usable for weapons, we believe that the method which both countries have agreed upon to achieve it is wrong. It is wrong for environmental, economic, non-proliferation, political, and safety reasons.

In Russia the use of plutonium raises numerous safety concerns which will be heightened by the lack of effective regulation. Russian light water reactors, called VVER-1000, have experienced many safety problems which have not been acknowledged or analyzed publicly by Minatom. Further, the Russian BN-600 breeder reactor, which would also be used in the program, has also experienced safety problems. By subsidizing a plutonium fuel infrastructure in Russia, you would be encouraging Minatom’s plans to build more nuclear reactors, including breeder reactors which are not the most economic way to generate electricity. And G-8 funding the Russian plan will provide impetus for the United States to proceed because the two nations’ programs are linked.

In the United States the Department of Energy has selected four nuclear reactors which have only half the strength of other types of pressurized water reactor (PWR) containment structures. These commercial power plants, operated by Duke Power (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-35, NPF-52, NPF-9, and NPF-17 ), are among the few reactors worldwide which use the “ice condenser” system baskets of ice to reduce heat and pressure in the event of an accident inside the containment building. According to the NRC, “Ice condenser plants are at least two orders of magnitude more vulnerable to early containment failure than other types of PWRs.” (NUREG/CR-6427, April 2000) Experts estimate that a severe accident at a plutonium mixed oxide fueled reactor would result in 25% more cancer deaths.

We are not convinced by statements that the facilities which will participate in this program serve only disarmament and non-proliferation goals. In fact, some of the facilities can also be used for military purposes. For example, chemical processing facilities outlined in the agreement can also be used to make new plutonium pits for new nuclear weapons. The circulation of plutonium fuel in the commercial sector would increase the risk of diversion. Encouraging a plutonium economy in Russia and the United States undermines non-proliferation.

The action you take will have profound impacts on the environment, on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and on energy policy for many decades. Before making a decision, we request that you conduct a thorough investigation into the entire matter. As this decision will have far-reaching effects on the nations of the world, this investigation should include public hearings and other types of public input.

Thank you for your attention to our request. We look forward to your response.


Signed by leaders of 19 non governmental organizations:


Great Britain

Martin Forwood and Janine Allis-Smith
Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment
Tel: +44 (0)1229 833851
Fax: +44 (0)1229 812239
98 Church Street
Barrow in Furness
Cumbria, LA14 2HT, United Kingdom

Russian Federation

Alexandra Koroleva, director for Baltic Resource and Information Service
PO Box 1477, 236000 Kaliningrad, Russia

Vladimir Mikheev
Citizens' Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Phone: 7 (3912) 653-353
Fax: 7 (3912) 653-353 Lenin St, 41, office 1.
Krasnoyarsk, 660049, Russia

Alexey Milovanov, editor for WISE/NIRS Kaliningrad
PO Box 1477, 236000 Kaliningrad, Russia

Alisa Nikulina, coordinator for Socio-Ecological Union Int'l
phone +7(095)7766546
PO Box 211, 121019 Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for Ecodefense
phone/fax +7(095)2784642, 7766281
Nizhegorodskaya 70-2-5
109052 Moscow, Russia

Alexey Yablokov, PresidentCenter for Russian Environmental Policy
Moscow, Russia

United States of America

Sara Barczak, Safe Energy Director
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
3025 Bull Street, Suite 101
Savannah, Georgia 31405, USA

Brett Bursey
South Carolina Progressive Network
Phone: +1-803-808-3384
Fax +1-803-808-3781
web site:
PO Box 8325 Columbia South Carolina 29202, USA

George Crocker
North American Water Office
Phone: +1-651-770-3861
P.O. Box 174; Lake Elmo, Minnesota 55042, USA

Kay Drey 515 West Point Ave.
University City. Missouri 63130, USA

Deb Katz, Executive Director
Citizens Awareness Network
Phone: +1-413-339-5781
PO Box 83 Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370, USA

Constance Kolpitkee-mail:
21024 Pine Street
Cornelius, North Carolina 28031, USA

Amanda Martin, Director
Carolina Peace Resource Center
335 S. Woodrow St.
Columbia, South Carolina 29205, USA

Mary Olson, Director Southeast Office
Nuclear Information & Resource Service
Phone: +1-828-675-1792
P.O. Box 7586 Asheville, North Carolina 28802 USA

E.M.T. O'Nan, Director
Protect All Children's Environment
Phone: (828) 724 4221
Fax: (828) 724 4177
396 Sugar Cove Road
Marion, North Carolina 28752, USA

Lewis E. Patrie, M.D., M.P.H.
Western North Carolina Chapter
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
99 Eastmoor Drive
Asheville, North Carolina 28805 USA

Kalynda Tilges, Executive Director
Shundahai Network
Phone: +01-702-369-2730
Fax: 702.369.5717
1350 E. Flamingo Box 255
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119 , USA

Janet Marsh Zeller, Executive Director
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
Phone: +1-336-982-2691
PO Box 88, Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629, USA