GREENPEACE REVEALS AREVA’S PLUTONIUM WEAPONS CONNECTION
Auckland, October 29, 2002 - Greenpeace activists inflated a 15 metre high balloon bomb outside the French base in the Viaduct Basin this morning. The inflatable bomb was tethered to large yellow barrels marked Areva –the French nuclear company sponsoring the French entry in the Louis Vuitton yacht race – and radiation symbols.
“The part that Areva does not want the New Zealand public to know about or see is their connection to the French nuclear weapons programme and their contribution to global insecurity through the production and trade of plutonium,” said Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace spokesperson.
Areva’s company COGEMA, is one of two commercial reprocessing plants producing plutonium today. The other facility is in the UK. Reprocessing was developed by the military to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons from spent nuclear fuel. The French reprocessing plant is in Normandy and is the biggest importer of foreign spent nuclear fuel in the world. During reprocessing millions of litres of radioactive waste are discharged into the English Channel annually.
The French site hosts the largest stockpile of separated plutonium in the world. French government and civilian estimates put the stockpile at 70 tonnes, half of which belongs to its foreign clients (1). Less than 8 kgs of plutonium is required to make a Nagasaki-type bomb.
‘Areva’s involvement in large scale trade in separated plutonium presents a major security threat for the global community and is a safeguards nightmare. These stockpiles are the most likely source for anyone wanting to get their hands on some bomb material,” she said.
“It’s a joke to talk about security in the Viaduct Basin, to look after a sponsor whose very business is a global security threat, and if New Zealand knew they were being used to promote this business they wouldn’t like it.”
France and the UK’s 15 European neighbours have voted for a reduction in the radioactive waste discharges from their facilities (2) and called for an end to reprocessing, but both France and the UK have ignored this.