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Flotilla peacefully protests plutonium ship


FLOTILLA PEACEFULLY PROTESTS PLUTONIUM SHIPS ARRIVAL

Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, Tuesday 17th September 2002, For the second time in as many days, yachts from the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla have protested the transport of nuclear materials through the Irish Sea. This morning at 8.30 a.m. six of the flotilla boats protested the arrival of the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal into Barrow docks near Sellafield at the end of the ships infamous 18,000 mile journey from Japan to the UK.

As the Pacific Pintail, carrying its cargo of rejected plutonium mixed oxide (MOX), approached Barrow through the Walney Channel it encountered a peaceful protest with a simple message - "Stop Nuclear Transports". The boats involved in today's protest were from the Republic of Ireland, Britain and the Isle of Man and were there to represent the views of millions of people living along the Irish Sea coastline.

The ships were escorted through the Walney Channel by a large police launch, seven police inflatables and at least one security helicopter. The yachts from the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla fell into formation behind the Pacific Pintail once the nuclear freighter carrying the cask of rejected plutonium MOX had passed them between Peel Island and Roa Island at the entrance to the Channel. The yachts got within 200 metres of the first set of lock gates.

"The Flotilla is a partnership of individual seafarers who use the Irish Sea," said Dr Warren Scott skipper of the yacht Swn y Mor from Glasson Dock. "We wish to let BNFL and the UK and Japanese Governments know that we are no longer willing to sit back and allow the Irish Sea, or any sea, to be used as a nuclear highway."

The plutonium transport has earned the reputation as the world's most controversial nuclear shipment. Over 80 governments have condemned it, citing environmental, security and safety concerns. En route countries called for the transport not to enter their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a call which fell on deaf ears. Even on the final leg of its journey, the BNFL transport was less than 30 miles from the Irish coast when it encountered the Irish Sea Flotilla yesterday afternoon.

The Government of Ireland which normally has good relations with the UK, has begun a legal challenge against the reprocessing operations at Sellafield through the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and has also instigated arbitration through the Paris and Oslo Convention (OSPAR), a treaty dealing with the prevention of pollution in the north east Atlantic.

"This plutonium shipment has reached pariah status. BNFL and the UK Government have once again put at risk the environment and security of millions of people around the planet for what? A bankrupt business that will drain billions from the UK taxpayer over the coming decades while continuing to increase its mountain of stocks of weapons-usable plutonium. This was a wholly unjustified and shameful transport and it must be the last," said John Bowler of Greenpeace International, in Barrow.

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