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Plutonium Ships Run From Protest

Plutonium Ships Run From Protest


Tasman Sea, July 22 2002. The Nuclear Free Flotilla successfully delivered its message of protest to the two armed UK nuclear freighters this morning, despite the freighters best efforts to sneak through the flotilla's line in the dead of night.

Two activists from the flotilla were dropped into the water at dawn, after catching up with the two plutonium ships in an inflatable boat. The two swimmers, Ian Cohen, the upper house member of the New South Wales Parliament and Stuart Lennox of Tasmania, held up a banner, which read "Nuclear Free Pacific" as the two ships passed.

"As an elected member of the New South Wales Parliament, representing many Australians who have expressed strong anti-nuclear sentiment, I wanted to make sure that there was no doubt in these shippers minds that they are not welcome in this region," said Ian Cohen.

The flotilla boats also radioed their message of protest to the ships after they picked them up on the radar around midnight and moved to intercept them.

"We may be ten boats but our strength is that we carry the wishes and demands of many thousands of people. It is pretty clear from the plutonium shippers avoidance tactics overnight that they are scared to face public opinion," said New Zealand resident, Henk Haazen from the Nuclear Free Flotilla. "However they will not be able to avoid the growing public and government pressure building against them from Japan all the way to the Irish Sea, to stop this insane business."

A similar protest was carried out last year when a shipment of plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) went through the Tasman en route from France to Japan. The Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla movement has grown to include a flotilla in the Cape Horn region and one in Ireland that is preparing to protest the arrival of the ships in the Irish Sea.

The Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal are carrying a cargo of faulty MOX, including 255 kgs of weapons-usable plutonium, that left Japan for the UK on Thursday, July 4th. The shipment of faulty MOX is being returned to the UK because its producers, the technically bankrupt government-owned British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), falsified critical safety data on the fuel and the Japanese refused to use it. As a result of the scandal and due to a loss of confidence by the Japanese communities in the MOX industry, none of the MOX that has been shipped to Japan in the last four years has been used.

"The proliferation and environmental risks that this industry takes in producing plutonium are enormous. To then ship it increases the risks many times, and passes these risks to every coastal nation en route,” said Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner. “It is clear from the strength of government and public opposition to this current shipment that it is no longer a question of 'if' these shipments are stopped but when.”

Crew are available for interviews on the following vessels: Henk Haazen on board SV Tiama – Inmarsat phone: +872 762639082 Ross Barnett on board SV Moontide - Iridium phone: +8816 315 25591

For other details contact: Pia Mancia, Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla, in Auckland 021 799 661 Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner, 021 838 183 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Nuclear Press Officer, in Sydney +31 65 350 4731

Photographs available from Olivia Bradley, Greenpeace AV Co-ordinator in Sydney +61 438 422 572 / +61 2 9263 0350 John Novis, Greenpeace Photo Desk, in Amsterdam +31 65 381 9121

Video available from Olivia Bradley, Greenpeace AV Co- ordinator in Sydney +61 438 422 572 / +61 2 9263 0350 or Lucy Clayton, Greenpeace Video Desk, in Amsterdam +31 65 350 4721

Pia Mancia Greenpeace New Zealand ph: 64-9-630 6317 Whaling Must Stop!!

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