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Greenpeace concerns over plutonium shipment


Greenpeace concerns over plutonium shipment echoed by US Congressmen

Paris, August 25, 2004 - Greenpeace today reiterated its opposition to the planned transport of plutonium from US to France as US Congressman Jim Turner expressed his concerns over the same controversial shipment.

Turner, a Democrat Congressman on the US Select Committee on Homeland Security, has communicated Spencer Abraham, US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, that he is concerned about the lack of security for the proposed shipment.

"This shipment is unnecessary and dangerous and must be stopped," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International. "While on the one hand Bush is voicing his concerns about international terrorism and security, on the other he is pushing forward this dangerous plan to ship nuclear material around the world. It's a relief to hear these ill-conceived plans being questioned."

Greenpeace has recently met with members of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative branch of Congress, to discuss the shipment and view a video that exposes the lack of security measures provided for previous transports of plutonium in France.

The Bush Administration plans to ship the plutonium from Charleston, South Carolina to Cherbourg, France in two lightly armed UK-flagged ships. The 140 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium would be carried in containers that would not withstand an attack by a rocket-propelled grenade (1). Once in France, the nuclear material will be transported 1,000 km south of the country in lightly guarded trucks that could also be subject to attack or theft.

Another US Congressman has also questioned adequacy of security for the shipment. Rep. Edward Markey Questions released letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday regarding the upcoming shipment (2). He expressed his concern that the Bush Administration isn't doing enough to ensure full protection against possible terrorist threats.

Greenpeace advocates treating plutonium as a nuclear waste through immobilization, which is a safer, cheaper, and more secure method.

For more information please contact:
Tom Clements - Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner, + 1 202 415 6158
Yannick Rousselet - Greenpeace France Nuclear Campaigner, +33 685 806 559
Cecilia Goin, Greenpeace International Media Officer, + 31 6 212 96 908

Notes to Editor:
(1). According to the French Government's agency IRSN - Institut de Radioprotection et Sûreté Nucléaire:

http://www.irsn.fr/net-science/liblocal/docs/docs_DEND/frenchapproach.pdf

(2) News release and letter at: http://www.house.gov/markey/
To get the video clips see: http://frodo.greenpeace.org/photos/pumovies/
For domestic action to halt plutonium transport in France, see: http://www.stop-plutonium.org

For local opposition to the US plutonium shipment via Charleston, South Carolina: http://www.noplutonium.org

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