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Goff Speaks Out Against Nuclear Shipments

Without going as far as supporting a Green Party bill which would outlaw nuclear shipments from New Zealand's 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff strongly voiced his opposition to nuclear shipments this afternoon, and staked out New Zealand’s EEZ as a no-go zone.

However, despite Mr Goff's words, the international Law of the Sea entitles nuclear cargos to claim 'innocent passage' through New Zealand waters.

While neither the British shipment carrying mixed oxide (MOX) fuel from France to Japan, via the Tasman Sea, nor the Australian shipment of spent nuclear fuel from the Lucas Heights research reactor in Sydney are expected to enter New Zealand’s EEZ, Mr Goff said New Zealand must continue to speak out against nuclear waste shipments, or risk being seen as complacent.

Mr Goff said the Government’s position on the Australian shipment was the same as for the British MOX shipment, despite the fact that New Zealand benefits from the work of the Lucas Heights facility - small amounts of isotopes are sent to New Zealand for use in cancer treatments.

Mr Goff said the Government would ideally like to see waste processed in Australia, but have received no indication that will happen.

He said the Government would like to have better notification of nuclear shipments from Australia than it has received thus far.

Mr Goff said the shipment of nuclear waste in New Zealand waters posed a risk of pollution that would be detrimental to New Zealand fisheries and our “clean, green” reputation, and said New Zealand does not have the facilities to deal with an accident.

He said the Government did not accept the position of the shipping companies that there were no risks posed by the shipments, and that if they believed there was no risk they should not have a problem accepting liability for accidents, which they have been unwilling to do.

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