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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Plutonium battle goes to court
Irish politician John Gormley (left) and an environmental protester
Protesters have regularly picketed the Mox plant
Greenpeace is due to go to the High Court on Thursday in its bid to stop radioactive mixed oxide (Mox) fuel being shipped from Japan to the UK.

Lawyers for the environmental pressure group say the "faulty rejected plutonium" is due to be sent to Sellafield's Mox plant in Cumbria.

Greenpeace is seeking an injunction to stop British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) from shipping the material until the Environment Agency (EA) decides whether Mox should be re-classified as "radioactive waste".

The material is currently being stored at Takahama in Japan.

'Catastrophic accident'

If it is re-classified by the EA, Greenpeace says the shipments need special authorisation before it could be brought to the UK.

If the EA decides it is not radioactive waste, campaigners will challenge the decision in further legal proceedings.

Greenpeace said in a statement that two armed British ships, the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, arrived in Japan on 14 June to collect the Mox, originally supplied to the Japanese by BNFL.

Terror attacks

It said countries along the sea route the cargoes would take were "concerned by the lack of consultation, the vulnerability of the shipment to catastrophic accident, malicious attacks and issues of liability and salvage in the event of accident".

Security concerns have been heightened after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

Greenpeace plans to argue in court that, as BNFL has not made any decision about what to do with the material, apart from storing it, it does not currently amount to radioactive waste under European and UK law.


Click here to go to BBC Cumbria
See also:

20 Dec 01 | England
Protests at Sellafield's Mox plant
19 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Norway demands UK nuclear rethink
17 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish appeal over nuclear plant
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