Nuclear-Free Tasman Flotilla Departs
18 February 2001
Nuclear-Free Tasman Flotilla Departs On Mission To Bear Witness To Plutonium Ships
The Flotilla : http://www.nuclearfree.co.nz/flotilla.htm
Latest news: http://www.nuclearfree.co.nz/news.htm
A flotilla of seven yachts from Australia and New Zealand left port today to sail to the north-west Tasman Sea where they will protest the use of the Tasman and the Pacific Ocean as a nuclear highway for plutonium ships. The Nuclear-Free Tasman Flotilla, is made up of three yachts departing from Australia: "Tiama", "Fand" and "Antarctica", and four yachts departing from New Zealand: "Ranui", "Nanu", "Secret Affair" and "Siome". They expect to take a week to travel to a zone of international waters between Lord Howe and Norfolk Island where two British-flagged ships carrying a cargo of plutonium for Japan are expected to transit in early March. Flotilla spokesman, Tony Atkinson, said the mission of those sailing was to draw world attention to the use of the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific as a nuclear highway. In Sydney, the yachts and their crew were farewelled by family and friends and an Aboriginal dance troupe while in Opua in New Zealand, the local community turned out to witness a blessing of the yachts and crew. "We are trying to stop these shipments from taking place worldwide and to break the nuclear cycle that the world is locked into," said Henk Haazen, skipper of Tiama. "Plutonium is the most dangerous man-made substance and needs to be stored safely for 24,000 years before it breaks down. How can we load our children's futures with such a liability?" Opposition to the plutonium shipments is equally strong in Japan. In Niigata prefecture, people living next to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, where the plutonium is headed, are seeking a referendum on Japan's plutonium MOX program. In the past week, members of the Niigata prefecture legislature, have written to the Nuclear-Free Tasman Flotilla offering their support and solidarity. Altogether, there are 42 people aboard the seven yachts in the flotilla. They range in age from 12 to 68 and represent countries including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, France and Poland. Among the crew are a retired architect, a doctor, a helicopter pilot, a tree planter, a lawyer, a vet, a film-maker and a high school student. Once the yachts arrive at their destination point - 650 nautical miles north-east of Sydney and 650 nautical miles north-west of Auckland - they plan to form a symbolic chain across the 75 miles of international waters where the plutonium ships are likely to pass. They do not plan to stop or obstruct the passage of the ships.
FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
For more information:
In Australia: Elisabeth Mealey on (02) 9263 0325 or 0403-443190 or
Rupert Posner 0419-179529.
In New Zealand: Athena Lambrinidou 021-1443457
The flotilla website will be updated daily: http://www.nuclearfree.co.nz