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The Independent Online

Greenpeace protesters chained themselves to a lorry carrying spent nuclear fuel after its drivers and escort went for a cup of tea at a motorway service station.

Activists pounced on the lorry owned by British Nuclear Fuels at the Southwaite service station on the M6 in Cumbria. They blocked it in with two of their own vehicles and used special equipment to drive bolts into the Tarmac to which they then tied themselves.

Police with bolt cutters, chainsaws and angle grinders took four hours to release the lorry. Seventeen people were arrested.

Greenpeace said that the transport flask, on a routine journey from Chapelcross, in Dumfries and Galloway, to Sellafield, was left unattended while its two drivers and a security guard in an escort vehicle went to a cafe.

However, BNFL said the lorry was under direct surveillance from the escort vehicle at all times while the drivers took a "comfort break". Transport arrangements were said to comply with all national regulations.

Kate Johnston of Greenpeace, who was at the scene, said the environmental group had photographs of the drivers returning to the vehicle. "They looked pretty shocked when they came back and found it surrounded."