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No Guarantees Over Nuke Shipments

5 July 2002

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said she was once again disappointed that a shipment of rejected highly radioactive fuel has started its journey from Japan back to the UK through the South Pacific.

The Pacific Pintail will be carrying around 250 kilograms of plutonium material in a shipment of mixed oxide fuel, enough to make dozens of nuclear weapons. The plutonium is being returned to its manufacturer, British Nuclear Fuels Limited, after Japan failed to accept it when BNFL admitted it had deliberately falsified safety data for the fuel in 1999.

"Phil Goff is making all the right noises about these shipments not being welcome near New Zealand but this Government lost the opportunity to back up its words with action when earlier this year it voted down my bill which would have banned these shipments from our 200 mile exclusive economic zone," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"It is all very well to send Orions out to monitor where these ships go but because Labour and the Alliance wouldn't support my bill there is nothing we can legally do.

Ms Fitzsimons said these shipments were increasing and in defeating her bill the Government had lost the opportunity to send the strongest possible signal to both the nuclear industry and the world that shipping nuclear waste was unacceptable.

"While it is not likely that the Pintail will enter our zone, failing to legally exclude it sells short the small Pacific countries whose zones will be infringed and weakens the collective move for a nuclear free South Pacific.

"As the Kursk disaster has shown the world, accidents do happen from time to time and New Zealand needs to take every possible step available to protect ourselves and our neighbours," she said.

"The Greens send our strongest support and best wishes to the flotilla of boats from New Zealand that are sailing to protest this shipment. We wish them a safe journey."


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