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Pressure mounts on Govt. to support Green bill

22 January 2000

Pressure mounts on Govt. to support Green anti nuclear bill

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said pressure was mounting on the Government to match its words with action and support a Green Party bill which would outlaw nuclear shipments from New Zealand's 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Ms Fitzsimons' bill is currently before select committee but the Government has already stated it may not support it to the next stage.

"I drafted this bill when I first came to Parliament in 1997 because I knew that there would be an increase in the shipments of nuclear waste. New Zealand must regain its leadership on the nuclear issue and protect not only our nation but every other nation from the increasing risk of these lethal shipments," she said.

"British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) - the firm which is shipping this mixed oxide fuel - is a company that has been plagued by safety scandals and accidents, the latest being the falsification of safety data for similar shipments to Japan, Switzerland and Germany.

"BNFL have also been warned by the UK Safety Inspectorate to fix 28 safety problems at its plant there or be closed down," said Ms Fitzsimons. "This firm have just sent public relations executives to New Zealand to persuade us these fuel shipments are safe - why on earth would we trust them and put the future of New Zealand in their hands?

"These BNFL shipments are expected to increase over the next decade. They are not minor - one shipment contains twice as much radioactivity as was released in the Chernobyl disaster," she said.

"Under the International Law of the Sea these nuclear cargos are entitled to claim 'innocent passage'. At the same time the Treaty requires us to protect fisheries and the environment within this 200 mile zone. Clearly the conflict between these two provisions needs clarifying. The current interpretation of the International Law of the Sea is undermining New Zealand's sovereignty and New Zealand's ability to protect its own people.

"Passing my bill would be sending the world the strongest possible signal that we are not going to tolerate this unacceptable risk and that we going to regain our leadership in opposing the nuclear hazard," she said.

"I once again urge all parties in the New Zealand Parliament to get behind this bill and support it."

Attached is recent background material on British Nuclear Fuels Ltd from The Independent.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090

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