Plutonium cargo sails as Greenpeace bank accounts are frozen

British Nuclear Fuels Limited succeeded in freezing Greenpeace International's bank account on Tuesday 20 July, accusing the environmental organisation of breaching terms of a UK injunction that forbids Greenpeace from interfering with the sea shipment of Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel to Japan.

The next day, 21 July, a ship carrying plutonium fuel elements fabricated at Sellafield met with a ship bringing similar cargo from a French nuclear reprocessing plant. The two vessels have begun the first sea transport of MOX fuel from Europe to Japan.

“There are a couple of shipments a year planned, for the next ten years,” a BNFL spokesperson told edie. The shipment currently in transit consists of seven casks of MOX fuel. The two ships can carry a combined cargo of 50 casks. BNFL’s spokesperson stressed that the current shipment represents a normal cargo level, and cargo increases would take place only if the Japanese nuclear energy industry requested more MOX fuel.

Greenpeace opposes the transport of MOX fuel from Europe to Japan, asserting that the fuel is “weapons usable” and constitutes a risk to international environmental safety and security.

The UK government approved uranium commissioning, the process that is involved in the production of MOX fuel and used in Japanese nuclear power plants, in June this year.

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