Move comes on heels of plan to transport toxic brew to South Carolina site

By IAN MACLEOD, Ottawa CitizenFebruary 13, 2013 8:09 AM

Highly radioactive nuclear reactor fuel rods are to be clandestinely shipped by road from Chalk River to the United States under a non-proliferation effort to rid the Upper Ottawa Valley site of bomb-grade uranium.

News of the spent fuel shipment follows a Citizen report Monday about separate preparations to transport a lethal brew of liquid weapons-grade uranium by armed convoy through Eastern Ontario to a South Carolina reprocessing site. It will be converted at the Savannah River Site into a form unusable for bomb-making.

Federal law prohibits officials from releasing details of the plans, including routing, timing and the number of transport truck trips planned.

As well, a 2011 federal government memo says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) considers it unnecessary to hold public sessions that would allow citizens to ask questions and comment on the highly enriched uranium (HEU) repatriations to the U.S. The CNSC declined to comment on the memo Tuesday.

Documents from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission say an “expedited” approval is being sought for transport of the liquid HEU. It is believed to be the first time such a highly radioactive solution has been transported by road in North America and, according to U.S. commission documents, could happen as early as August.

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