‘Unsafe’ nuclear waste ship heads for Australia

Paris, Oct 16 (IANS) A ship carrying nuclear waste to Australia has left a French port despite warnings from environmentalists that the vessel may be unsafe.

Greenpeace and French environmental campaigners called for the shipment, sent by France-based nuclear company Areva, to be stopped, BBC reported.

French officials said an inspection revealed no problems that could prevent the ship from sailing.

The 25 tonnes of nuclear waste comes from Areva’s reprocessing plant in Beaumont-Hague, near the port of Cherbourg, from where the ship set sail on Thursday.

Shortly before the cargo ship set sail, French Green lawmaker Denis Baupin tweeted (in French) that Areva was “using a dustbin ship to carry waste, without any serious inspection”.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) said a full inspection of the ship had been 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,” a statement said, adding that the ship had been chosen by Areva.

The waste comes from spent nuclear fuel sent from Australia to France for reprocessing in the 1990s and early 2000s, Ansto said.

Under French law, the waste from the operation is required to have left the country by the end of 2015.

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