Nuclear industry attempt to ban Greenpeace protest against plutonium shipment

Press release - 4 October, 2004
Greenpeace has been summoned to appear in the Cherbourg Court tomorrow, where it will face a request by Areva, through its subsidiary Cogema, and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), for an injunction preventing it from approaching within 300m of the two ships carrying plutonium from the US to France or within 100m of the Cherbourg harbour.

Eugene Riguidel, one of France's most famous sailors and a member of the Atlantic Nuclear Free Flotilla, is released after a 24 hour detention in the Arsenal of Cherbourg.

The nuclear companies are further seeking to keep the international organisation from getting closer than 100 m from the road that the nuclear transport will take from the harbour to the La Hague plant (1).

"Once more the nuclear industry is trying to gag peaceful protest. They have nothing to fear from Greenpeace, rather the courts time would be better focussed on the threat posed by 140kg of bomb grade plutonium traversing the high seas and France's highways," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International. The hearing will take place in Cherbourg Court tomorrow, Tuesday October 5th, at 2:30 p.m.

The plutonium, sent by the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), left the port of Charleston, South Carolina, on September 20. The Pacific Teal and Pacific Pintail, operated by BNFL, are approaching Cherbourg where an international flotilla of French, English and Irish protest vessels are waiting.

In contrast to recent statements made by the U.S. Government and BNFL this is not a one-off shipment of plutonium It is the first instalment of 68 tonnes of plutonium from US and Russian stockpiles to be put on the world's roads and seas at a time when terrorists are actively seeking such material.

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.

Earlier today, Eugene Riguidel, one of France's most famous sailors, John Castle of Guernsey and Pernilla Svenberg from Greenpeace International were released from the military arsenal in Cherbourg. They were arrested yesterday for mounting a peaceful protest inside the military port against the plutonium shipment.

"We have a military exclusion zone in Cherbourg against small yachts while plutonium transports are free to threaten the lives and livelihoods of everyone in their wake, it is the trade in nuclear bomb material that should be banned not peaceful protest," said Eugene Riguidel, after spending a night in jail.

Notes: For background information see: Notes to editors:(1). Greenpeace is threatened with a € 300,000 penalty (€ 150,000 going to Areva the other € 150,000 going to BNFL) for each recorded violation at sea, and € 150,000 for each recorded violation on the road between Cherbourg and the plant in La Hague, to which some € 19,000 lawyer expenses also have to be included.