Greenpeace ship protest outlawed

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THE UNITED Kingdom nuclear fuel reprocessing industry won a legal battle yesterday to prevent environmental campaigners disrupting the delivery of mixed uranium and plutonium fuel to Japan on ships fitted with cannon.

British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) successfully sought an injunction from a judge in chambers at the High Court, preventing Greenpeace from blocking the mixed oxide fuel (Mox) shipments. The legal action follows an exchange of letters between BNFL and Greenpeace in which the company sought assurances that environmentalists would not attempt to block the shipments. No assurance was given.

The dispute was sparked by a Greenpeace demonstration in Cherbourg, northern France, where protesters occupied cranes that would be used to transfer Mox fuel to ships. Pete Roche, a Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner, said that in the wrong hands, the plutonium and uranium in the fuel could be separated easily and used to make nuclear bombs.

Mr Roche accused BNFL of trying to keep the shipments secret. "If the shipments are successful and Mox fabrication expands, then the international community faces 80 more such shipments over the next 10 years, the spread of nuclear weapons material more widely than ever before, and raised tensions in one of the most politically volatile regions of the world - Asia."

Two armed and guarded ships are preparing to leave the UK with the Mox fuel shipments. Greenpeace says the ships are waiting in Barrow-in- Furness, Cumbria.

A BNFL spokesman said it was pleased with yesterday's decision, which meant that the ships could continue their journey unimpeded.

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