Nuclear cargo arrives back in Sellafield

 

The controversial shipment of rejected MOX plutonium fuel completed its round-the-world journey this afternoon having arrived back at the British Nuclear Fuel (BNFL) plant at Sellafield. It is not known whether it will be unloaded tonight or tomorrow.

The cylinder containing nuclear waste is unloaded from the British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) ship Pacific Pintail at Barrow-In-Furness dock.

Having been met by a flotilla of protesters as it proceeded to dock, the Pacific Pintailunloaded a giant flask holding nearly 5-tonnes of lethal plutonium onto a Sellafield-bound train.

Watched by police in a helicopter and four patrol cars, a short freight train shunted out of Barrow Dock at around 3 p.m.

On one of the wagons stood a single white flask carrying the five tonne cargo on its final journey by rail before being stored at Sellafield
nuclear power station.

Two British government patrol boats, six armed police boats, a tugboat and two helicopters guarded the Pacific Pintailinto harbour with water cannon at the ready, but there were no incidents.

Greenpeace's flagship Rainbow Warriorjoined five small private boats flying fluorescent green banners reading "Stop Plutonium Transports". "I think we got our message across admirably," said Mr Warren Scott, an English doctor and yachtsman whose converted deep-sea lifeboat spearheaded the "Nuclear Free Irish Sea" flotilla.

Musician Jim Corr, who spent six days aboard the Rainbow Warriorsaid today he was pleased to have helped raise awareness about the radioactive cargo.

He said it was "madness" to carry such a cargo such long distances by ship and hoped that the coverage gained by the environmental group in the past week would help sway public opinion.

"Public opinion will then sway the politicians and hopefully the politicians will change the policies regarding hazardous materials on the seas," he said.

Cumbria police coordinated the security operation with Britain's Defence Ministry and neighbouring police forces.

"It involved an intensive amount of preparation," a spokesman said. "With a load of this particular sort you have to look at the whole scale of potential threats and have plans in place."

One man was arrested for breach of the peace at Barrow in the last of a series of otherwise peaceful protests.

The Pintail'ssister ship, the Pacific Teal, is still at sea and is due to head into the port later. The Rainbow Warrioris believed to have remained with protest boats surrounding it.

A Greenpeace spokesman said today's demonstration had been a success. "Today is a final humiliation for BNFL after a three year, 36,000 mile round-trip.

"Its reject plutonium is now back where it started. In the course of the journey, BNFL has taken great risks with environmental safety, ignored the protests of 80 countries around the world and outraged public opinion on four continents."

He added: "It seems that the only thing they are good as is offending people."

PA, AFP &