U2 joins demonstration at nuclear site


LONDON -- Members of Irish rock group U2 joined Greenpeace demonstrators Saturday on a beach near the Sellafield nuclear fuels treatment plant after a High Court injunction banned activists from demonstrating on plant property.

The band arrived at the beach in inflatable rubber dinghies at 6:30 a.m. from a Greenpeace ship anchored at sea, a spokesman for the environmental activist group said.


Band members brought with them barrels of mud collected from coastlines around the Irish Sea that the activists said was contaminated with radiation.

British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., which operates the Sellafield treatment plant, won a High Court injunction Wednesday preventing the Greenpeace and U2 from staging a demonstration on their property against the planned opening of another fuels treatment plant on the site.

BNFL's court action, which was backed by tenants of adjoining land, was granted on the grounds that the area lacked the capacity for the expected crowd of 15,000 that would come to hear U2 perform.


BNFL originally granted another environmental group permission to hold a small demonstration on its property. But when Greenpeace and U2 became involved in the planned protest, BNFL withdrew its permission.

BNFL and 22 Cumbrian farmers applied for the court injunction after Greenpeace refused to call off the demonstration.

A Cumbrian police spokesman said Saturday police had not expected any trouble from the demonstrators.

'Greenpeace usually abides by injunctions, and there are no indications that they won't in this case,' the spokesman said.

The beach below the high water line is public property, and the activists arrived as the tide was going out.

Greenpeace spokesman Jane Wildblood said the event was intended to show that Greenpeace wouldn't back off from its fight against British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., the operators of Sellafield.

'We weren't there to cross the line,' Wildblood said. 'We were there to show people the line existed.'

The group marked a 2-mile line along the mean high tide line, considered the edge of BNFL's property, and marked it with placards saying 'React-Stop Sellafield.'

'It was the line where property rights end and free speech begins,' Wildblood said.

Wildblood said the new nuclear fuels treatment plant would increase radioactive discharges by 1,000 percent, a claim BNFL officials deny.


U2 played a concert it called 'Stop Sellafield' to a sellout crowd in Manchester, in central England, on Friday night and joined the Greenpeace ship at 4 a.m. Saturday.

Members Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton arrived at the beach at about 7 a.m. donned in protective white radiation suits, boots and masks.

They told a news conference they came to show their concern about nuclear contamination of the Irish coastline.

Group members Bono and The Edge told reporters the Irish government was not addressing the problem of nuclear pollution.

'It's absurd that a rock group like us has to get involved to bring the facts out,' Bono said.

'BNFL says they stopped the public demonstration in the interests of public safety, which is a joke given the danger public safety is under by installing a second nuclear reprocessing plant,' Bono said.

BNFL said they were trying to establish whether the demonstrators did step over the property line.

'We think they kept to the low water mark,' BNFL spokesman Judith Charlton said. 'We are obviously -- with the help of the Cumbrian police -- going to establish if the injunction was violated.


'If it was, we'll decide then what to do about the situation,' she said.

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