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Nuclear Free Flotilla prepares to depart

Nuclear Free Flotilla prepares to depart

Auckland, July 1, 2001 - The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla is now 12 boats strong and ready to sail out into the Tasman should the planned shipment of reject plutonium returning to the UK from Japan decide to use the Tasman as its route.

The Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla is made up of boats from around the region. Seven are planning to depart from Auckland, three from Australia and two from Vanuatu. They are part of a broader movement that has seen a flotilla develop off Cape Horn in the South American region and one in the Irish Sea. They are protesting the unnecessary and dangerous transport of plutonium MOX and nuclear waste around the world's oceans.

The rejected plutonium MOX shipment, containing 255 kgs of weapons-usable plutonium is being returned to the UK after British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) admitted to falsifying critical safety data after the fuel had arrived in Japan in 1999. A second shipment of MOX from France to Japan in 2001 faced the same quality concerns and also lies unused in Japan.

The route the return shipment will take from Japan back to the UK is still unknown, but whichever route it takes a protest flotilla will be there to meet it. The shipment is expected to depart Japan this week. Kansai Electric, the Japanese utility returning the reject plutonium said that they will announce the route the shipment will take 24 hours after departure from Japan.

A team from British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), is currently in Fiji. During past shipments a team of people from BNFL have been dispatched to the region through which the shipment will pass to appease concerned governments. A number of governments in the Caribbean and the Pacific have made statements opposing the planned shipment.

"It really is absolute madness to ship these dangerous materials around our planet and more and more people are coming to see that, said Henk Haazen of the Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla. "The flotilla here in the Pacific is now twice as big as last year. Ordinary people want their oceans and seas to be nuclear free and are prepared to put to sea with their families in the middle of the winter to make sure that Japan and the UK have no doubts about that."

Contacts: Henk Haazen, sailing vessel "Tiama" 021 534003 Bernard Kuczera sailing vessel 'Nanu" 021 607178 Pia Mancia: Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla: 021 799661

Notes: * The Nuclear Free Seas flotilla has a website http://www.nuclearfreeflotilla.org * Five boats (Tiama, Sea Eagle, Nanu, Fio-Oko, Phantom) of the Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla are already gathered at Orams Marina, Westhaven in Auckland preparing for departure.

© Scoop Media

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