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PCRC Demands End To Plutonium Shipments

5 July, 2002

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre is appalled at the continued disregard by the British and Japanese governments to years of opposition from the Pacific public over the plutonium shipments passing through the region.

"The shipment of these high-level radioactive materials through our waters must stop. Should there be a severe accident leading to the breach of the casks, impact on the health, environment and economies of Pacific Island countries will be devastating and irrecoverable," says PCRC environment campaigner Patrina Dumaru.

To date, nuclear transporters Japan, Britain and France continue to refuse to accept complete liability in the event of an accident. This means the costs of any destruction or accident will be fully borne by the people and environment of the Pacific.

"Our governments need to speak out against such risky activities. We applaud those who have publicly condemned the shipments and urge Pacific Island governments to do the same," Dumaru said.

Previous shipments of high-level radioactive wastes (in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001) have travelled through Pacific waters as nuclear powers have found us to be easy targets. There are plans for up to 30 shipments in the next 15 years, putting us at great risk.

Because of strong protests from Caribbean and Latin American countries, past shipments have avoided the quickest route through the Panama Canal. Last year a Federal Court of Appeal in Argentina ruled that the Argentinean Government take steps to stop nuclear freighters entering Argentina's EEZ because of the possibility of "irreversible" damage to public health and the environment.

Mounting pressure from en-route nations has also caused Japanese and Russian officials to begin negotiating an agreement that could see nuclear materials shipped from Europe to Japan via the Arctic Ocean. The nuclear shipping nations are feeling the heat so it is important Pacific Islands leaders and people keep up that pressure.

According to Greenpeace reports, the ship, containing 255 kilograms of plutonium, is expected to pass through the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Federated States of Micronesia and may breach the EEZ of other countries including Fiji, Vanuatu and Nauru.


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