A ship carrying 25 tonnes of reprocessed nuclear waste was steaming to Australia yesterday despite protests from activists about an “environmental disaster waiting to happen”.
The BBC Shanghai left the northern French port of Cherbourg after approval from local officials, who carried out an inspection on Wednesday, and was due to arrive by the end of the year in New South Wales state.
It was laden with radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel that Australia sent to France for reprocessing in four shipments in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) said yesterday. The reprocessing involves removing uranium, plutonium and other materials, with the remaining substances stabilised in glass and stored in a container.
“The container will be placed on a nuclear-rated ship, brought to an Australian port, and trucked to Lucas Heights (nuclear facility) with an appropriate security operation,” ANSTO said in a statement.
“The ship was selected by (France-based nuclear company) Areva, and after a full inspection carried out by both French maritime safety authorities and by the French nuclear safety regulator on October 14, the ship’s seaworthiness was confirmed and certified.”
Greenpeace, French environmental campaign group Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) and a leading green lawmaker called for the shipment, sent by Areva, to be halted.
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