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Nuclear-Free Status Under Threat say Greens

17 January 2000

Nuclear-Free Status Under Threat say Greens

New Zealand's status as a nuclear-free leader is threatened by reject nuclear shipments being shuttled through our backyard, Green Party MP and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

The Green Party joined a chorus of environmentalists calling for an official representation to be made to the Japanese Government, opposing the return to Britain of a rejected shipment of nuclear fuel.

The shipment would pass through the Tasman Sea on its way back from Japan.

"The British Government has already dispatched a delegation to plead with the Japanese Government to veto the plan," said Mr Locke. "It's time New Zealand spoke out as a nuclear-free country and stopped these highly dangerous fuels being shuttled through our backyard."

"Japan has not yet made a decision about the future of the contaminated shipment. This is the perfect time for New Zealand to point out the risks of nuclear fuel shipments."

Japanese nuclear plant Kansai Electric Power Company are planning to send the 225 kilograms of plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel back to Britain, after learning that safety proceedures were violated and data was falsified during production.

"We've seen enough oil tanker disasters to realise that no ship is unsinkable," said Mr Locke. "The consequences of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack on the ship are unthinkable."

"It's impossible to have confidence in the safety of these shipments when we know that safety rules were broken during the production of the nuclear fuel," Mr Locke said.

Keith Locke MP 025 528-353 Press officer: Gina Dempster 470-6679

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