PARIS — An armed Japanese escort ship collided Sunday with a Greenpeace boat tracking a freighter laden with highly toxic plutonium, the environmental group and Japan's coast guard said.
Japan is shipping the plutonium home to fire up a new generation of nuclear fast-breeder reactors. Greenpeace opposes the shipment and is trailing the cargo ship, saying the plutonium poses huge dangers ranging from a spill to an attack by terrorists seeking nuclear bomb-making material.
The Akatsuki Maru, carrying 1.7 tons of plutonium, left the French port of Cherbourg late Saturday after a day of clashes between security forces and environmentalists.
The vessel's route on its two-month voyage to Yokohama is secret.
But Greenpeace said the freighter and its armed escort, the Shikishima, were sailing southwest in the Atlantic and could reach Portugal's Azores Islands by Wednesday.