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Rumoured Escort For Plutonium Ship Runs Aground

Rumoured Escort For Plutonium Ship Runs Aground In Tasman

Auckland, New Zealand, 8 July 2002: The grounding of the British destroyer HMS Nottingham, which is rumoured to be in the Tasman to escort the plutonium ships, only highlights how irresponsible and dangerous this whole transport is, Greenpeace said today.

“Shipments of plutonium will be in the Tasman Sea within two weeks and in the last week bad weather has grounded the HMS Nottingham and devastated the Federated States of Micronesia, said Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace Nuclear spokesperson.

“You have to seriously wonder if those who are making the decision to send these ships through this region in the middle of winter know what they are doing.”

Parts of the route planned for the plutonium shipments are officially classified as Marine High Risk Areas by Lloyds of London.

“The shipment is dangerous enough on its own let alone adding risk by sending it through the southern seas in winter,” said McDiarmid.

Questions have also been raised on why the HMS Nottingham is in this region in the first place. UK Channel 4 News has speculated that she is there to protect the plutonium shipments from terrorist attacks.

“There have been rumours running for the last few months that the shipment of reject plutonium, carrying 255 kgs of weapons-usable material would have an additional escort that would not be part of the public plan,” said McDiarmid. “Clearly those making the shipment recognise what a security risk this shipment is”.

The HMS Nottingham ran aground off Lord Howe in the mid- Tasman, 300 miles north east of Sydney yesterday, near where the Pacific Flotilla will converge. Only last week an oil tanker also grounded off the coast of Fiji.

For further information: Bunny McDiarmid 021 838 183 or Brendan Lynch 021 790 817.

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