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Plutonium Shipping - UK Bans Greenpeace Vessel

Uk Government Imposes Draconian Ban On Greenpeace Vessel To Silence Opposition To Plutonium Transports

The UK Government has banned the MV Greenpeace from UK waters, a move described as draconian and anti-democratic by the international environmental organisation.

In a letter faxed to the Greenpeace vessel, the UK Government invoked the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act to ban the MV Greenpeace from all United Kingdom waters in the Irish Sea, St George's Channel, the Bristol Channel, and the English Channel, citing safety concerns.

It is believed to be the first time the Act has ever been used in this way. "This is an abuse of governmental powers to stifle debate over the plutonium industry's dangerous practices," Greenpeace campaigner Mike Townsley said from on board the MV Greenpeace. "This order from the UK Government shows that plutonium and democracy do not mix."

It is well known to the UK Government that as a maritime organisation committed to non-violence, Greenpeace does not and has never taken risks with navigation. This Act would be better used to stop the plutonium transport, as the Act's main purpose is to prevent significant pollution at sea.

"This shows how sensitive the Government is over the shipping of weapons usable nuclear material. To suggest that the unarmed vessel of an organisation committed to non-violence is in any way a safety threat to a vessel armed with 30 mm cannon and machine gun-carrying police is a grotesque abuse of the facts."

The Pacific Pintail is also being escorted by a British navy warship, the "HMS Leeds Castle". It is currently in the Irish Sea, travelling south. British Nuclear Fuels have already obtained a further injunction from the High Court on Monday which banned the MV Greenpeace from sailing within one nautical mile of the Pacific Pintail. BNFL is currently wholly owned by the British Government.

"After exhausting every legal manoeuvre, the British nuclear industry is now using its leverage on the UK Government to enforce an abuse of the freedom of expression," Townsley said.

The MV Greenpeace is monitoring the movement of the "Pacific Pintail", one of two ships being used by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) and the French nuclear reprocessing company COGEMA to carry nuclear weapons-usable plutonium fuel from Europe to Japan.


ENDS

Letter To The MV Greenpeace From UK Government
To: The Master of the ship MV Greenpeace

The Secretary of State, in exercise of his powers conferred on him by section 100C of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (the "1995 Act") as amended by the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997, hereby directs the Master of the ship MV Greenpeace to remove that ship from the area specified in the following paragraph

The area specified is the area comprising of all United Kingdom waters in the Irish Sea, St George's Channel, the Bristol Channel, and the English Channel.

The purposes of this direction are:

a) to ensure the safety of the ship and other ships, persons on the ship and other ships, and other persons and property; and

b) to prevent or reduce any risk to such safety.

Failure to comply with any requirement of this direction is an offence under section 100D of the 1995 Act.

This Direction shall remain in force until cancelled.

For and behalf of the Secretary of State

J Astbury Director of Operations/Chief Coast Guard

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