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Council of Canadians joins growing opposition to Highly Enriched Uranium shipment

The Council of Canadians sent a letter today to the Canadian government urging it to stop the planned shipment of weapons-grade uranium from the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s Chalk River facility to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The plans would see 23,000 litres of acid containing Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) being transported nearly 2000 kilometres, with likely routes taking it across the Great Lakes Basin and the St. Lawrence River, putting the drinking water of 40 million people at risk.

Although spent HEU fuel has been transported before, there have been no known shipments of HEU in liquid form. The Council of Canadians is expressing concerns over public safety and potential water and environmental contamination.  

The letter signed by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, states: “Moving HEU nearly 2000 kilometres from Chalk River to the Savannah River Site in the United States puts people and the environment at an unacceptable risk. The shipment of HEU would need to pass through Eastern Ontario, cross international waters, enter numerous indigenous territories and cut through communities in six U.S. states. The impacts of any release of radioactive materials would be catastrophic, especially if it resulted in the contamination of our waterways.”

The Council of Canadians is demanding that communities have a say in the decision. The letter further argues: “The communities along the intended transportation route will be most at risk from radioactive contamination resulting from a potential accident or terrorist attack on the shipment. Their ability to opt out is compromised by the secrecy of the route and the timing of the shipments… At the very least, communities along the potential routes must be informed and their decision to opt out must be respected. Communities along the route have the right to know, and a right to say no.”