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Green MP - Parl. Expected To Oppose Nuclear Ships

Green MP Says Parliament Expected Today To Oppose Nuclear Shipments

Parliament is expected to pass a motion today opposing regular shiploads of highly radioactive nuclear fuel passing through the South Pacific.

Two ships carrying over 446 kilograms of nuclear fuel are crossing the Tasman this week en route to Japan from Europe. If the trip is deemed successful, 80 more such shipments are expected over the next 10 years.

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said most parliamentary parties had agreed to her motion which calls for the Government to join with Australia and other South Pacific countries in expressing strong concern about the nuclear shipments at the South Pacific Forum in Palau in October.

The Australian Parliament passed a similar motion last week. Ms Fitzsimons hopes trans-Tasman solidarity will help make it a big issue at the forum.

"The states transporting nuclear fuel are looking for the route of least resistance and will target the Pacific as a suitable route if we don't express our concern.

"Countries throughout the Caribbean have protested vehemently against the shipments travelling through their region. We need to make more fuss to stop the ships coming our way," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Australia has a vested interest in the shipments - some of the reprocessed uranium on the ships is likely to be originally from Australia - so New Zealand has to provide leadership for the South Pacific on this issue.

"The International Law of the Sea provides nations with the right to protect the fisheries and their marine environment within their 200 mile zone. But, at the same time, it grants ships the right of innocent passage through other nation's exclusive economic zones. New Zealand should definitely be leading the international debate to give priority to the right of nations to protect their seas from the dangers of highly hazardous cargoes."

The motion also calls for the Government to initiate a scientific study of the potential environmental risks of the shipments. As well it seeks to press the governments of Japan, France and the United Kingdom to enter into negotiations with potentially affected countries, to establish an effective system of prior notification and a comprehensive liability regime to cover shipments of highly radioactive material.

(Text of notice of motion follows)


Jeanette Fitzsimons

That this House notes the current shipment of highly radioactive mixed oxide fuel (MOX) that will travel past New Zealand's coast through the Tasman Sea, on route to Japan and, that this may be the first of many such shipments of highly radioactive nuclear fuel or waste which may take this route; that there is no prior notification as to the route these shipments take; that there is a lack of adequate liability and compensation regime in the event of an accident involving such shipments; the strong concern of New Zealand and other South Pacific countries regarding these shipments through the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific;

and calls on the New Zealand government to initiate an open scientific study of the potential environmental risks of these shipments; press the Governments of Japan, France and the UK to enter into negotiations with potentially affected countries to establish an effective system of prior notification and a comprehensive liability regime to cover shipments of highly radioactive material; and join with Australia and other South Pacific countries in registering strong concern about these shipments at the Thirtieth South Pacific Forum to be held in Palau in October.


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