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Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla Spreads

Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla Spreads Around The World.

May 30th AUCKLAND, NZ Today three flotillas from the Pacific, Cape Horn and the Irish Sea announced their intention to protest against the shipment of rejected plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) due to leave Japan for the UK in early July.

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.

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. If it is the Pacific and Tasman Sea route the shipment is expected to pass through the protest zone in mid July. At least eight boats are preparing in Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand to form a symbolic chain across international waters to protest the shipment through the Pacific and Tasman Sea.

If the Cape Horn route is chosen, the five boats that currently make up the Cape Horn flotilla will be braving the winter weather off the Horn to send their message of protest. Whichever route the shipment takes to the UK the boat will have to go through the Irish Sea to reach its destination and there it will be met by a large Irish flotilla.

Seven boats formed the Tasman Sea flotilla last year when a second shipment of plutonium MOX, this time from the French Areva company passed through. The Pacific Pintail carrying the plutonium MOX fuel changed course to avoid the flotilla.

"The flotilla movement has grown in just a year says Bernard Kuczera, from the Pacific flotilla "Sailors all around the world are joining the coastal states that are already protesting these totally unnecessary and dangerous shipments"

The quality of the French plutonium MOX, delivered to Japan last year has also been called into question. Public referenda and concerns over the use of MOX in Japanese reactors have meant no MOX fuel that has been delivered to Japan has been used.

"As part of the flotilla I have the opportunity to act in a positive way against the nuclear industry. I am completely against the plutonium shipment transiting through these wild southern seas, which I know really well and where serious problems may occur. One is never a hundred per cent sure of the sea. this is true at Cape Horn or on any other route", says Olivier Pauffin from the Cape Horn flotilla. "We feel so strongly about this shipment that despite it being winter we will join together with the other flotillas around the world to demand that our seas and our oceans are nuclear free, said Pascal Grinberg also of the Cape Horn flotilla.

"The Irish community feels it has suffered because of Sellafield and people here believe that their protests have been ignored by BNFL and by the British government, said Rowan Hand from the Irish Flotilla. "The Flotilla is a means of giving expression to high levels of concern and the interest in the project grows daily. In the weeks leading up to the August Flotilla we will be garnering the enthusiasm of our sailing friends and I am certain that a large flotilla will depart the historic port of Carlingford to make its protest" he said.

"Quite simply the Irish Sea is not a dumping ground for the UK nuclear industry. The Irish people will not be bullied into accepting this; it is unjust and ultimately offensive, said Ron van der Horst from the Irish flotilla. "People are uniting all over the world to stop these shipments."


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