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Greenpeace Condemns New Plutonium Threat


January 20th 2001, Cherbourg: Greenpeace today condemned the announcement made by Cogema, British Nuclear Fuels and Tokyo Electric, that a shipment of weapons-usable plutonium MOX fuel to Japan, will travel via South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific. Greenpeace called on the endangered countries to take all possible action to prohibit the transport from entering their seas and to stop the international trade in nuclear weapons- usable plutonium.

"The nuclear industry has once again demonstrated its arrogant disregard for the sovereign will and legitimate concerns of en-route nations," said Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace International. "The countries along this shipment route and other routes have called for prior consultation and the resolution of urgent safety, security and liability issues. What they have got is a clear message that this industry doesn’t care about their legitimate rights and concerns." said Burnie.

The armed British-flagged vessel, the Pacific Pintail escorted by the Pacific Teal, left Cherbourg, France yesterday following protests from the environmental organization. The Pacific Pintail is carrying approximately 230kg of plutonium, together with around 4 tonnes of uranium. Greenpeace announced yesterday that the route for this second shipment of MOX fuel to Japan, would be via South Africa and the Tasman.

The ships are currently heading south-west towards the northern coast of Spain and west of Portugal in the face of growing opposition. The government of Portugal has sought information from the Britain and France on whether the nuclear ships will violate their 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ). In New Zealand, legislation is being proposed that would exclude plutonium and other nuclear ships from their 200-mile EEZ. The acting Foreign Minister of New Zealand, has expressed their governments 'firm-opposition to the transport of nuclear materials through the EEZ of New Zealand. Strong public opposition is building in the Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific in advance of this plutonium MOX fuel shipment. In December last year it was announced by New Zealand and Australian members of the 'Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla' that a small flotilla of yachts will protest and bear witness in the Tasman Sea for any future nuclear transports passing through their seas.

"In 1999 the Pacific Pintail carried a shipment of plutonium MOX fuel from the UK to Japan. Because the producers of that fuel, British Nuclear Fuels, deliberately lied and deceived their Japanese clients, that cargo of MOX is now to be returned to Britain. There is enough evidence from Japan already to suggest that the Pintail MOX ship may be about to sail into the same scandal this time with Belgian/French MOX fuel. It should never have left France and it may never reach Japan. If it was not so tragic it would be a farce," said Burnie.

For further information:

Shaun Burnie - Greenpeace International - ++ 31 629 00 11 33 (Dutch mobile) in Cherbourg Damon Moglen - Greenpeace International - ++ 1 202 319 2409 in Washington Mike Townsley – Greenpeace International - ++31 6212 969 18 in Amsterdam

Briefings on the plutonium MOX shipment are available at

Video and stills are available from: Footage (+31 20 52 49 543) and stills (+31 20 52 49 580

Notes to editors:1 – On Thursday a Japanese court requested the owners of MOX fuel, Tokyo Electric release quality control data, similar that from the BNFL scandal, to the court. The fuel was shipped in 1999, and is being challenged in the courts by Japanese NGO's, and citizens. The same producers of the 1999 end

For information on Greenpeace please visit:

High-bandwidth users can view current and archive streaming Greenpeace videos at:

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