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Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla Announces Departure

Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla Announces Departure In Response To Route Announcement

July 5th, 2002 The announcement from Japan last night that a shipment of faulty plutonium will use the Tasman as its route back to the UK has been met with shock but not surprise from the Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla.

"We kept a glimmer of hope alive that sense would prevail and the shipment would be cancelled, at the same time as we have been preparing to go to sea, " said Dennis Johnson of the Pacific flotilla, "Obviously British Nuclear Fuels must be feeling extremely desperate because they have decided to put all of us at risk by sending this completely unnecessary and dangerous shipment around the world in the middle of winter."

The two UK armed freighters, the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal carrying a cargo of faulty MOX, including 255 kgs of weapons-usable plutonium, departed Japan last night and is expected to arrive in the Tasman in the next 2-3 weeks.

The shipment of faulty plutonium MOX is being returned to the UK because its producers, the government owned British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) falsified critical safety data on the fuel and the Japanese refused to use it. BNFL confirmed the Tasman as part of the route in their release which says "the vessels will travel through the Southwest Pacific and around the Cape of Good Hope on the voyage".

The Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla is now 12 boats strong, 7 of which are preparing to depart from Auckland over the weekend. The boats have come from Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Whangaroa, the Bay of Islands and France. They will meet up with 5 other boats from Australia and Vanuatu in the mid-Tasman to protest the shipment. The New Zealand boats will be gathered in the Viaduct Basin on Sunday morning for a departure event, which will include a send off from the popular bands Nesian Mystic and Brisa Louca.

"We are part of a growing voice of opposition that includes NZ and other countries along the route these shipments take; the Japanese communities that live around the nuclear reactors and the people of Ireland who have lived with their sea being made radioactive by the industry that is responsible for these shipments", said Henk Haazen of the Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla.

Contacts: Henk Haazen s/v Tiama 021 534003 Rick Blomfield s.v Phantom 025 869407 Dennis Johnston s/v Joie Pia Mancia: 021 799661 or (09) 372 6661

NOTE: The Departure event and exhibition will be in the Viaduct Basin, Auckland Sunday, July 7th 11am - 1pm.


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