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JUNE 1, 1999  11:19 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Greenpeace
Simon Boxer, Greenpeace Intl, Cherbourg +33 60 736 5143
French Police Forcibly Remove Greenpeace Protestors After 20-Hour Action Against Cogema's Nuclear Waste Dumping Into The Ocean
 
CHERBOURG, FRANCE - June 1 - French police this morning forcibly removed Greenpeace protesters after a 20- hour action where the environmental organization attempted to return 1,000 liters of radioactive liquid waste to the French government. The state-owned nuclear reprocessing company Cogema routinely dumps radioactive waste into the sea from its discharge pipe at La Hague, on the Normandy coast.

At around 6.30 am police began to remove a group of 20 Greenpeace activists from their positions around a specially adapted lorry carrying a steel container holding the nuclear waste, at Dielette harbor near La Hague. Greenpeace had collected the radioactive effluent at a depth of 30 meters from the end of the Cogema discharge pipe during a week long operation-involving divers working from the Greenpeace ship "Strakur".

Four of the activists had occupied a 100 ton mobile crane, owned by Cogema, which police intended to use to transfer the steel container holding the nuclear waste from the Greenpeace lorry to a special Cogema nuclear waste transport lorry. At 8 am Cogema brought a second 100 ton mobile crane to the site and transferred the steel container of nuclear waste to the Cogema lorry for transport back to its reprocessing factory at La Hague.

"The 1,000 liters of radioactive waste which the French authorities say is too dangerous to transport will now be taken back to the Cogema reprocessing plant at La Hague and discharged once more into the sea, a part of the 230 million liters of radioactive waste dumped each year into the environment. This is an outrageous hypocrisy by the French authorities who have demonstrated no regard for the environment and public health," said Simon Boxer of Greenpeace International from Dielette.

The Strakur remains anchored offshore at La Hague with 10,000 liters of nuclear waste, which Greenpeace intends to return to client countries. The Cogema factory at La Hague extracts plutonium during the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power stations in France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

"Today's return to sender action is the first of a series to those governments responsible for this massive environmental pollution, including the clients of Cogema," said Boxer.

"Concerted action must be taken now by La Hague's customers around the world to prevent further radioactive contamination of our seas and the increased risk of health damage to millions of people in Europe," said Boxer. "They must cancel their contracts now."

Representatives of the French Radiation Protection Agency (OPRI) at Dielette, who had taken radioactivity readings, considered the waste too dangerous to be transported. OPRI and Directorate of the Nuclear Installation Security (DSIN) demanded that the waste in the steel container be taken to Cogema reprocessing plant at La Hague. However, Greenpeace had refused to allow this as Cogema would simply discharge it again into the sea.

Greenpeace demanded that OPRI or DSIN find a suitable company and site for the proper storage of the nuclear waste.

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