UPDATE - Protesters arrested at Dutch chemical plant
AMSTERDAM - Dutch police arrested 15 activists from environmental group Greenpeace yesterday after they occupied a chemical plant owned by French firm Atofina.
Police said 10 of the protesters were arrested earlier in the day after chaining themselves to a fence at the plant\'s entrance to protest its production of a toxic paint additive.
Five others at the site in the southwest port of Flushing were later arrested when they complied with a court decision issued later in the day to end the protest, Greenpeace said.
Three had chained themselves to a chemical storage tank, and police decided not to use blowtorches to remove them because of the danger of fire, police spokesman Sjaak de Beste told Reuters. Two others were on the roof of a building.
Atofina is owned by France\'s TotalFinaElf , the world\'s fourth largest oil company.
On Monday, 17 Greenpeace activists were arrested at the plant after dumping sludge dredged from harbours the group said were contaminated with tributyltin (TBT), an anti-fouling additive used in paints for ships to prevent algae and other organisms from attaching themselves to their hulls.
TBT leaches from the paint and is extremely harmful to marine environments, Greenpeace said in a statement.
\"Atofina is fully aware of the damage it\'s causing the marine environment, yet it is refusing to stop producing this toxic paint,\" Greenpeace activist Eco Matser said.
Greenpeace said the paint industry organisation CEPE had acknowledged that alternatives to TBT paint were available and several major shipping groups had already banned its use.
Atofina does not produce TBT at the Flushing plant, but does make it at other sites, Atofina spokeswoman Monique Linger said.
Greenpeace said Atofina had been at the forefront of a fight against a ban on the use of TBT in paint, which is being considered this week at a conference at the International Maritime Organisation in London.
Atofina said it complied with current regulations, which rendered TBT safe if used properly.
\"If there\'s a ban, of course we will follow it. But we say there\'s no alternative yet as good as this paint,\" Linger said.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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