March 9, 1995
The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C 20515
Dear Congressman Abercrombie:
Thank you for your letters dated January 10, 1995, and February 15, 1995 to President Clinton and me respectively concerning sea shipment of radioactive waste from Europe to Japan.
The United States, through the Department of State, has made clear that it expects any such shipment to be carried out safely, without significant risk to our citizens or the environment, and in full conformity with international safety and environmental standards. Federal agencies, including the Departments of Transportation and Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, have been briefed on this shipment and are confident it will be conducted safely under sound, multinationally-approved standards. The United States will continue its active participation in International Atomic Energy Agency activities to ensure rigorous and effective safety standards arc maintained for the shipment of radioactive materials by all modes of transportation.
We have been advised that the shipment in question will contain only residual quantities of plutonium and uranium -- amounts that are infeasible to recover. This residual material has been removed from international safeguards and does not pose a significant nuclear proliferation risk. Its presence does not create a right under our nuclear cooperation agreements with Japan and the European Union to exercise control over these shipments.
I hope this information is helpful to you. This Administration remains strongly committed to ensuring that peaceful nuclear commerce is carried out in a manner that ensures the safety of our people and secures the greatest degree of protection for the environment.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss this further. or have a member of your staff call William J. Taylor III, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and International Affairs, at (202) 586-5450.