Nuclear cargo leaves France for Japan

AFP/Mychèle Daniau

A cargo of radioactive fuel was ready to leave France for Japan on Wednesday after arriving in the Channel port of Cherbourg overnight. Anti-nuclear campaigners claim the Mixed oxide fuel (MOX), produced by French nuclear giant Areva, is the “most radiotoxic in the world”.


A group of about 30 Greenpeace activists protested at the convoy of three lorries’ arrival, guarded by about 1,000 police officers, in Cherbourg before loading started on the British shop Pacific Egret at about 5.30am.

The cargo, which was loaded onto one ship and will be accompanied by another, consisted of 10 tonnes of MOX, between 650 and 800 kg of plutonium, according to Greenpeace which says that it is a smaller consignment than the five previous ones.

Opponents, including the Green party, which is part of the ruling coalition, demanded that the dispatch be cancelled, claiming that it is “extremely dangerous” and could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Areva says that it is “almost impossible” to make bombs with the plutonium, which is “recycled” from plutonium produced in nuclear power stations, and insists that is packed in 98 tonnes of protective material for every 10 tonnes of MOX.

The consignment should have left for Japan in 2011 but departure was delayed because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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