PARIS – A ship carrying 25 tons of nuclear waste left France for Australia on Thursday despite protests from environmental campaigners who said they were concerned about “deficiencies” in the vessel.
The BBC Shanghai left the northern French port of Cherbourg after getting approval from local officials who carried out an inspection on Wednesday and is due to reach Australia on Nov. 27.
Greenpeace, French environmental campaign group Robin des Bois and a leading green lawmaker had called for the shipment, sent by France-based nuclear company Areva, to be halted.
“Areva, almost bankrupt, are using a dustbin ship to carry waste, without any serious inspection!” Denis Baupin a senior lawmaker with the French green party, tweeted shortly before the ship left port.
Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace France said the ship “should not be used” to carry the nuclear waste, while Nathalie Geismar from Robin des Bois said other ports had found a “staggering number of flaws” in the ship.
But authorities in the Manche region, who inspected the 14-year-old ship, said they found no problems that could prevent it from sailing or put its crew or cargo in danger.
Areva’s external relations director, Bernard Monnot, said some small flaws found in the inspection had been put right. The two containers of waste came from the company’s reprocessing plant in Beaumont-Hague, near Cherbourg.