Pacific Nations shown no respect as British plutonium ships breach Exclusive Economic Zones
Port Vila, Vanuatu July 17, 2002: The shipment of faulty plutonium mixed-oxide (MOX) has been caught by Greenpeace transiting through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu waters, a blatant breach of the islands’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). The ships were found at 12 degrees 19.8 minutes South, 163 degrees 14.2 minutes East on a bearing of 190 degrees magnetic.
The ships are close to Rennel Island within the Solomon’s EEZ and Torres Island and Espiritu Santo within the Vanuatu EEZ. This puts the ships on a course to transit through the EEZ of the Pacific Island of New Caledonia.
“British Nuclear Fuels has ludicrously called Greenpeace irresponsible for publicising the location of this dangerous shipment. It is they who are avoiding their responsibility under international law of informing nations that they are in their waters, and it was their irresponsibility in falsifying crucial safety data which is bringing this shipment through the region twice unnecessarily,” said Angenette Heffernan, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner
The Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Serge Vohor has accused Japan and Britain of disrespecting his country’s sovereignty. He is attending the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit in Nadi.
Each nation has the right to protect the marine environment within its EEZ from hazardous nuclear shipments under the Law of the Sea Convention. The shipping states have not fulfilled their obligations under the international Law of the Sea, which includes consulting with en route states. Therefore the BNFL ships, the Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal, have jeopardised their right to “freedom of navigation” within EEZs.
“The ACP meeting is the perfect opportunity for the rest of the Pacific Governments to follow the example of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, FSM and the Cook Islands, and state their strong opposition,” said Heffernan.
The two British flagged nuclear freighters carrying 255kg of weapons-usable plutonium breached the EEZ of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on Saturday July 13, despite the FSM Government’s stated opposition. Greenpeace, using a small aircraft, found the ships at 08 degrees 10 minutes North, 158 degrees 44 minutes East sailing on a bearing of 157 degrees magnetic.
Greenpeace also believes the Teal and Pintail breached the EEZ of the Republic of Marshall Islands on Friday July 12. Calculations based on the path and speed of the ships puts their location at 1500hrs local time at approximately 11 degrees 30 minutes north, 158 degrees 05 minutes east - putting them about 150 miles off Ujelang Atoll in RMI.
The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla yachts, which left in the last week from Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia, are closing in on their destination in the Tasman Sea. They are gathering to protest against the plutonium ships as they make their passage to the Southern Ocean. The Flotilla is made up of individual boat owners, with crews onboard ranging in age from 3 to over 60 years old.
For further information, please contact In Suva FSM Ambassador to Fiji, Mr Gallen Gadaro, +679 99 24 081 Angenette Heffernan, Greenpeace Pacific Nuclear Campaigner, +679 99 22 044 Simon Boxer, Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner, +31 629 001 132
In Sydney Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Nuclear Press Co- ordinator, +31 65 350 4731