November 2002

Norwegian breaks business mould in Sellafield protest

The Guardian, November 20, 2002
By Terry Macalister

Original address:,3604,843621,00.html

[Posted 25/11/2002]

A Norwegian businessman yesterday chained himself to a part of the Sellafield nuclear plant in protest at emissions being discharged into the Irish Sea, said to be the most irradiated water mass in the world.

Petter Stordalen, the billionaire chief executive of Choice Hotels, said he would stay there until BNFL blocked the pipeline and started storing all waste on land.

"It's the first time I have been involved in anything like this," he said, via a mobile telephone. "I have supported Neptune Network [a green group] with money but decided it was time I supported them with action. I told my wife yesterday I was going to a meeting; she was a bit surprised but proud when I phoned and said where I really was."

Mr Stordalen is a private property developer who also runs Norway's largest hotel chain, listed on the Oslo stock exchange with a £90m price tag.

He had been forced to take action because Tony Blair had continually dismissed pressure from the Norwegian government to halt its activities, he said.

Nordic countries have become increasingly alarmed at evidence that marine currents have carried radioactive materials from Sellafield into their fishing grounds. The Irish government is also campaigning hard for Sellafield to be closed down, launching a legal challenge to its expansion and praising Greenpeace for its efforts to highlight dangers there.

Mr Stordalen, along with MP Karl Anton Svendsen and Neptune's Frank Hugo Storelv, took over a bridge holding part of a wastepipe.

The campaign group organising the protest said the men had "entered" Sellafield, but BNFL said they had stayed on public land. "There are no issues of trespass or violent conduct. As long as it is a peaceful protest [and] safety is not being interfered with then we respect their right to protest," said a spokesman.

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