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Cogema Allowed to Unload Australian Spent Nuclear Fuel

Greenpeace will launch a new legal challenge to the state-owned nuclear company ...

PARIS, April 3, 2001
Greenpeace will launch a new legal challenge to the state-owned nuclear company Cogema's plans to reprocess Australian spent nuclear fuel after an injunction preventing the unloading of the fuel was overturned by a Court of Appeal today.
The Court of Appeal (Cour d'Appel) in Caen, Normandy, in northern France,
today overturned an injunction granted to Greenpeace by a lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) in Cherbourg on March 15. The injunction
prevented the unloading of the spent nuclear fuel, currently on board the
ship Bouguenais in Cherbourg harbour. Greenpeace had successfully argued,
in the lower court, that Cogema did not have specific authorisation to
reprocess the Australian spent nuclear fuel.
However, despite lifting the injunction, today's court judgement opened the
way for another legal challenge by Greenpeace of the legality of Cogema
reprocessing the Australian spent nuclear fuel. A legal complaint will be
filed by Greenpeace today at the Cherbourg court (Tribunal de Grande
Instance). This case will hinge on the definition of "nuclear waste"
which, under a 1991 French law, cannot be imported into France. It will
also raise the lack of a specific authorisation for Cogema to reprocess the
Australian fuel and a timetable for such reprocessing.
The 360 fuel assemblies, (about 750kg) of spent nuclear fuel, came from the
research reactor at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney which is operated by
the Australian Science and Technology organisation (ANSTO). The spent nuclear fuel, under the guard of French police, has been sitting on board
the Bouguenais in Cherbourg harbour since the court injunction was granted
on March 15. However it can now be unloaded and taken to the nearby Cogema
nuclear complex at La Hague.
" While we are disappointed that the court did not allow the injunction it
has provided us with the opportunity to continue our legal challenge of
Cogema to stop this spent nuclear fuel being reprocessed in France, " said
Greenpeace spokesperson Jean-Luc Thierry.