Greenpeace continues to protest US nuclear shipment while

Press release - 7 October, 2004
Five Greenpeace climbers have hung a 10x10m "Stop Plutonium" banner just above the entrance of the Mirabeau Tunnel - five kilometres from Cadarache - where a shipment of U.S. plutonium is due to arrive later today. Hundreds of military police and security vehicles have been deployed along the route of this high risk transport.

Five Greenpeace activists climb the rocks above the Mirabeau Tunnel to protest the transport of 140kms of weapons-grade plutonium, which will travel through the tunnel on its way to Cadarache nuclear facility north of Marseilles. The transport began in France after the arrival of UK-flagged commercial nuclear cargo ship, the Pacific Pintail, from Charleston, SC, USA. Before reaching its final destination it will have travelled more than a thousand kilometres across France, passing by numerous highly populated communities. Greenpeace believes the shipment is unnecessary and highly vulnerable to accidents or deliberate attack.

"Despite claims that French nuclear state company Areva, the French and U.S. 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.

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.

Greenpeace wants and immediate end to plutonium production and separation and believes current stocks both civil and military 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, safer, and more secure.

VVPR info: Photos and footage available upon request, Photo Desk: John Novis + 31 653 81 91 21Video Desk: Maarten van Rouveroy + 31 6 46 19 73 22

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