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Friends Committee on Washington State
Public Policy

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FCWPP ACTION ALERT 

June 30, 2001

2001 SHUT DOWN THE FAST FLUX TEST FACILITY (FFTF)

While Secretary of Energy Richardson (under President Clinton) signed an order to permanently shut down the FFTF, the new Secretary of Energy Abraham has suspended this decision and ordered a review. The Department of Energy (DOE) is now requesting comments on the shutdown decision. 

ACTION: Send your comments by Tuesday, July 3, 2001: 

Mail: FFTF Review, 20201 Century Blvd., 3rd Floor, Germantown, MD 20874 
Email: [email protected] 
Phone: 1-888-680-8450 (toll free) Fax: 1-888-680-9509 

Here are the basic points: Abraham's decision will cause a 6-month delay and a waste of over $20 million in cleanup funds. The delay is out of compliance with the Hanford Cleanup Agreement. The mission of Hanford is cleanup; FFTF is a major distraction. Restart of the FFTF reactor would add new waste streams to the most contaminated nuclear site in the western world. The FFTF could be fully deactivated in 2003, adding $40 million per year back into the cleanup budget. 

PLEASE WRITE, EMAIL, CALL, or FAX SOON! If you can, send a copy of your message to Ruth Yarrow at WPSR . Questions? Please call Ruth at WPSR (206)547-2630. THANK YOU! 

Background Info on the FFTF from Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility  

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is most highly contaminated nuclear site in the western world. Restarting the FFTF would produce new high level radioactive waste streams at Hanford. Permanently shutting down the FFTF is part of the 1989 Tri-Party Agreement between the U.S. Department of Ecology, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Washington State Department of Ecology. While WPSR is strongly in favor of effective cancer treatment, diagnosis and therapy using medical isotopes, FFTF is not the appropriate facility in which to make medical isotopes. 

The most authoritative source on the supply and demand of medical isotopes is the Institute of Medicine's report, Isotopes for Medicine and the Life Sciences. This report dismisses the proposed use of FFTF, a research reactor designed to test breeder technology, as inappropriate for producing medical isotopes. Many dozens of physicians across the country, including top experts in radiology and nuclear medicine, oppose the restart of the FFTF. Given the global resources available to all uses, they see no present or future shortage of medical isotopes in this country.  

The Washington State Department of Ecology, in a December 1998 letter to the U.S. Department of Energy, has made clear that "Generation of any additional liquid reprocessing wastes at Hanford is unacceptable when we do not have any capacity to safely store, retrieve and stabilize millions of gallons of legacy wastes." Keeping the FFTF on hot standby for the last several years has diverted over one hundred million dollars from the Hanford clean-up budget. Thousands of Northwest citizens at public hearings on the issue have voiced outraged opposition to the restart of the FFTF. Dozens of Legislative Districts in Washington State passed individual resolutions at the 1998 Democratic Convention against the FFTF restart. The proposal to produce plutonium-238 for the space program at the FFTF would create more waste streams. Colette Brown of the Department of Energy has stated publicly that "Right now it is cheaper to buy from the Russians than producing it domestically." And Department of Energy officials have said that they would not make plutonium-238 at FFTF unless the reactor were restarted for some other purpose.  

The Washington State Medical Association, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, Oregon's Governor and the entire Oregon Congressional delegation, the Seattle City Council and the Seattle Mayor, WA Congressman Jim McDermott, former Senator Hatfield and the Oregon Department of Energy have all strongly express their opposition to FFTF restart for missions including tritium for nuclear weapons. Secretary Richardson has decided not to produce tritium at FFTF. Over a dozen organizations in the Hanford Public Interest Network and two dozen organizations in the Northwest Disarmament Coalition are firmly opposed to the FFTF restart for any production mission. 

Jonathan Brown, FCWPP Clerk, .
 [email protected].

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