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Greenpeace blocks path of nuclear ship

Monday, 22 January, 2001: Greenpeace protesters tonight blocked the path of the nuclear waste transport ship Bouguenais as it entered Botany Bay. The ship arrived in Sydney this evening to pick up 360 radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods from the Sydney nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights and take them to be reprocessed in France.

After a cat and mouse game with water police, five Greenpeace activists carrying buoys bearing "Stop" flags swam into the path of the ship. The police pounced on the activists, removed them from the water and took them into custody.

Meanwhile 200 protesters, mostly concerned community members, are occupying the access road to the Lucas Heights facility and are refusing to let the convoy and its nuclear cargo pass. The protesters, who are being closely observed by a contingent of more than 50 police officers, say they don't want Sydney's streets to be used for the transportation of nuclear waste.

"This export of highly radioactive fuel rods is an international disgrace," said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Stephen Campbell.

"The nuclear waste will be transported half way around the world to undergo "reprocessing" - an unnecessary and contaminating process, and will all be returned to Australia before 2015 with no reduction in radioactivity. These transports will be repeated many times over the next 40 years if Australia is bloody-minded enough to build a new reactor at Lucas Heights. These are all situations Greenpeace and the community aim to prevent."

The "reprocessing" will be undertaken by COGEMA in La Hague, France - a nuclear facility now under pressure to close due its status as the second-highest emitter of nuclear contamination in the world.

As this shipment leaves Sydney another nuclear transport has just left Cogema's La Hague facility and will sail past Australia on its way to Japan. Greenpeace is part of the Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla, which will sail into the Tasman Sea next month to bear witness to the shipment. The Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla will assemble inside Botany Bay later this evening to bear witness to the Bouguenais as it leaves for international waters with its Australian radioactive cargo.

Greenpeace opposes the building of a new reactor because it will continue to create nuclear waste as well as wasting money and opportunities:
· It will produce nuclear waste for many more decades. There is no solution to the problem of nuclear waste and it places an unethical burden on future generations;
· The Government's only waste strategy is to ship waste overseas for reprocessing, from where it will return in due course as radioactive as when it left;
· It is a waste of over half a billion dollars;
· It is a waste of an opportunity to embrace cleaner, greener alternatives.


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