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Greenpeace uses new ammunition against nuclear waste transports

The environmental organisation, Greenpeace, has pointed the finger at the energy ministry, alleging that it contravenes Swiss law when it allows nuclear waste to be exported for reprocessing to Britain and France.

The environmental organisation, Greenpeace, has pointed the finger at the energy ministry, alleging that it contravenes Swiss law when it allows nuclear waste to be exported for reprocessing to Britain and France.

Greenpeace based its argument on a legal study unveiled today. The author of the report, by the law professor, Heribert Rausch, claims that the energy ministry is wrong in applying the Radiation Protection Act, rather than the Nuclear Energy Act, when making a decision on whether to send spent nuclear fuel rods to reprocessing plants abroad. The Nuclear Energy Act provides for much more draconian penalties, when the health of human beings is put at risk.

The report by Rausch comes after a legal battle erupted in 1997, when Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against at least four officials in the ministry. An investigation by the federal prosecutor's office is still underway.

At a news conference in Zurich, Rausch said, "If the nuclear waste transported to La Hague (F) and Sellafield (GB) has inflicted damage to people's health because of radiation, then the Nuclear Energy Act is clearly applicable".

But Werner Bühlmann from the energy ministry said, "This is an old argument. In reality, it's not a case of black and white because both of these Acts are equally applicable." He added, "I don't think the publication of the legal study will influence the federal prosecutor's decision in the criminal proceedings."

Bühlmann believes the prosecutor will come to a decision in the next two months.

by Greg Morsbach

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