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Plutonium ships spotted off the coast of Madeira

Irish Sea destination imminent as Pariah Plutonium ships spotted off the coast of Madeira

Dublin/New Zealand September 11, 2002 - Greenpeace and the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla warned that the arrival of the two nuclear freighters in the Irish Sea is imminent as the ships have been spotted west of the Portuguese island of Madeira. Greenpeace spotted the ships operated by British Nuclear Fuels earlier today. A Portuguese Naval vessel shadowed the shipment to ensure it was outside the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Pacific Pintail, carrying the cask of rejected plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, and her lightly armed escort, the Pacific Teal are now global outcasts, having been condemned by eighty Governments along its route from Japan since they left in July.

With news of the collapse of British Energy and the Japanese utility, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) suspending its plutonium MOX programme indefinitely, the future business prospects for BNFL look bleak. This shipment was justified by BNFL solely on the basis of regaining business with Japan.

The two plutonium ships will face a barrage of protest from the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla as they near their homeport of Barrow-in-Furness. Up to eighteen yachts will sail out into the Irish Sea to peacefully protest against the freighters.

"As a participant of the Flotilla partnership, I am determined to peacefully protest against BNFL and the UK and Japanese Governments, who have continually supported this morally and financially bankrupt industry", said Paul Barrett, skipper of the yacht Tuscair. "This has given myself and other members of the sailing community an opportunity not only to express our own concerns but also of those who live by and near the Irish Sea".

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"These ships were not welcome in any sea on their disgraced journey back from Japan, and they are certainly not welcome in the Irish Sea. Eighty Governments including Ireland have publicly decried this shipment as lunacy," said Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior in Dublin. "The UK and Japanese nuclear industries have been exposed as dishonest, unsafe and uneconomic. Rather than increasing the trade in bomb material with all the risks that entails, they need to concentrate on waste clean-up and investments in clean energy".

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