Greenpeace activists boarded a ship Wednesday night carrying more than 1,000 Volkswagen vehicles to prevent what they thought were diesel-powered cars from getting to their destination.
Activists unfurled a banner on the ship with the words “Ditch Diesel” alongside an image of a young girl suffering from a respiratory illness, an official with the environmentalist group told reporters. Most of the vehicles were gas-powered and were bound to arrive in Britain Thursday.
“Diesel cars are toxic – so we’re here to block VW imports on behalf of all of the children who are the most acutely affected by the health impacts,” Janet Barker, one of the activists that took part in the protest, said in a statement.
“The government says we need to wait another 23 years for dirty diesels to be banned. We can’t wait that long,” she said, referring to Britain’s plan to phase out diesel vehicle sells within the next two decades.
Several activists initially boarded the ship, but most of them have vacated. Only two remain on board and are holding several thousand car keys, a spokesman said. VW confirmed that keys had been removed from some vehicles, all of which are compliant with EU regulations.
VW pleaded guilty in March to charges from “diesel gate,” which affected more than 500,000 vehicles and cost the automaker billions of dollars. VW was sentenced to three years’ probation and forced to pay billions of dollars in penalties.
The company admitted in 2015 to installing so-called defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. The Bosch devices would activate during road conditions when emission measuring tools were not engaged.
VW agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the U.S. to address the scandal, and it also was tasked with recalling and fixing the tainted vehicles. The company was sentenced to three years of probation and forced to pay billions of dollars in penalties. EPA officials championed their victory over the company last year.
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