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British Warship ‘Protecting’ Plutonium Shipments?

Holed British Warship ‘Protecting’ Plutonium Shipments?

8 July 2002

The stranger than fiction saga of the plutonium MOX shipments on their way from Japan to Britain, which will transit the Tasman Sea on their journey, has a new twist this morning which would be hilarious were it not so serious.

Just to recap some of the main points of this sad and sorry saga to date ...

The shipments are of 225 kg of plutonium MOX fuel which, after being shipped from Britain to Japan in 1999, were found to be accompanied by false documentation from British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), and are now being returned to Britain.

Interestingly, BNFL and the British government insists that the shipments are safe and well-protected, seemingly expecting that they will be believed despite the very fact of these shipments providing a demonstration that their word is not to be trusted ...

Yesterday there was the spectacle of Helen Clark farewelling the nuclear-free flotilla boats setting sail for the Tasman to protest about the shipments - presumably without mentioning the fact that her government just six weeks ago voted out the NZ Nuclear Free Zone Extension Bill which would have banned nuclear waste shipments from our exclusive economic zone ...

Then from Australia this morning have come suggestions that the British destroyer HMS Nottingham, holed and taking in water after hitting rocks off the coast of Lord Howe Island, is the warship sent to protect the plutonium MOX shipments as they transit the Pacific!

"The Nottingham, a Type 42 destroyer launched in 1980, is in the middle of a deployment to Australasian waters, where two British-flagged freighters transporting 255kg of processed plutonium from Britain to Japan are due to pass in the next few weeks. It would not be unusual for the Royal Navy to shadow ships carrying such sensitive cargo. " (The Australian, 8 July 2002)

How very reassuring.

PMA alerts about previous nuclear waste shipments and the NZ Nuclear Free Zone Extension Bill are available online at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nwastei.htm

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