Nukes - keep on trucking

Background - 8 October, 2004
Nuclear proliferation was ignored by the French authorities yet again as they accompanied the truck carrying 140kgs of weapons-grade plutonium through France as it continued its perilous journey to Cadarache in the south of the country.

Before reaching its final destination the truck will have travelled more than a thousand kilometres across France, passing by numerous highly populated communities.

"Despite claims that French nuclear state company Areva, the French and US governments are committed to this program declaring it will reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, in reality it will have the opposite effect. It will massively increase proliferation threat by dispersing the plutonium around," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International.

Faced with the obvious security risks of this shipment protests carried on throughout the day all over the country in anticipation of the truck. Local mayor and leader of the French Green Party, Noel Mamere, stood with other activists over the highway to Cadarache, protesting the transit of the plutonium through the town of Begles. Last week, he had tried to protect his community by filing a legal challenge at the local court seeking to prevent the dangerous cargo from passing through the middle of his town. Despite his request, the shipment continued its course towards the final destination.

Other protestors stood outside the city of Bordeaux during the final stage of the US transport while five Greenpeace climbers hung a 10x10m "Stop Plutonium" banner just above the entrance of the Mirabeau Tunnel - five kilometres from Cadarache

Every year in France, more than 10,000 kilograms of plutonium are transported from the La Hague reprocessing plant in Normandy to nuclear fuel fabrication plants elsewhere in France. The security surrounding this US nuclear shipment is far higher than the weekly French transports of weapons-usable plutonium, carried out in non-armoured vehicles under low-level police protection.

We want and immediate end to plutonium production and separation. Current stocks of both civil and military plutonium should be treated as nuclear waste not shipped around the world as reactor fuel. Plutonium should be mixed with radioactive waste, solidified or vitrified, and stored. This approach would be cheaper, faster and safer.

Click here to see a map of the truck's route through France.