PARIS – A cargo of reprocessed nuclear fuel containing highly radioactive plutonium left the French port of Cherbourg for Japan under heavy security on Wednesday as demonstrators protested the transport.
The controversial shipment from a plant of the French nuclear group Areva located about 20 km (12 miles) from the port arrived in Cherbourg before dawn aboard two trucks escorted by dozens of security vehicles as a helicopter flew overhead.
Around 20 Greenpeace activists carried protest banners and threw smoke bombs at the convoy shortly before it arrived at the port.
The shipment is the sixth delivery of mixed oxide (MOX), a blend of plutonium and uranium, from France to Japan since 1999.
“We are warning of how dangerous this shipment is and especially the risk of nuclear proliferation and the possible diversion for military purposes,” Greenpeace France activist Yannick Rousselet said.
On Tuesday, the Reseau Sortir du Nucleaire (Nuclear Phase-Out) said in a statement: “Areva profits from selling this dangerous fuel to a country devastated by a nuclear accident to supply reactors whose resumption the Japanese people reject.”
There are currently five reactors in operation in Japan compared with 54 before the Fukushima disaster.