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Cogema Allowed To Unload Australian Spent Fuel


PARIS, April 3, 2001 - Greenpeace will launch a new legal challenge to the state-owned nuclear company Cogema's plans to reprocess Australian spent nuclear fuel after an injunction preventing the unloading of the fuel was overturned by a Court of Appeal today.

The Court of Appeal (Cour d'Appel) in Caen, Normandy, in northern France, today overturned an injunction granted to Greenpeace by a lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) in Cherbourg on March 15. The injunction prevented the unloading of the spent nuclear fuel, currently on board the ship Bouguenais in Cherbourg harbour. Greenpeace had successfully argued, in the lower court, that Cogema did not have specific authorisation to reprocess the Australian spent nuclear fuel.

However, despite lifting the injunction, today's court judgement opened the way for another legal challenge by Greenpeace of the legality of Cogema reprocessing the Australian spent nuclear fuel. A legal complaint will be filed by Greenpeace today at the Cherbourg court (Tribunal de Grande Instance). This case will hinge on the definition of "nuclear waste" which, under a 1991 French law, cannot be imported into France. It will also raise the lack of a specific authorisation for Cogema to reprocess the Australian fuel and a timetable for such reprocessing.

The 360 fuel assemblies, (about 750kg) of spent nuclear fuel, came from the research reactor at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney which is operated by the Australian Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The spent nuclear fuel, under the guard of French police, has been sitting on board the Bouguenais in Cherbourg harbour since the court injunction was granted on March 15. However it can now be unloaded and taken to the nearby Cogema nuclear complex at La Hague.

" While we are disappointed that the court did not allow the injunction it has provided us with the opportunity to continue our legal challenge of Cogema to stop this spent nuclear fuel being reprocessed in France, " said Greenpeace spokesperson Jean-Luc Thierry.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT JEAN-LUC THIERRY (France) ON 33-1-44640214 (M) 33-673895502 JON WALTER (Holland) ON 31-20-523 6608 (M) 31- 653504731 or STEPHEN CAMPBELL (Australia) 9263-0351; 0418- 681-275 end

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