Flotilla stops nuclear shipment in its tracks

Feature story - 21 July, 2002
For almost a week eleven small yachts have been heading across the Pacific to demonstrate the huge public opposition to the shipment of highly dangerous nuclear cargo that is being transported across the Pacific en route from Japan to the UK. Now they are in position on the route of the shipment. But the two armed nuclear freighters seem reluctant to face the full glare of publicity.

Greenpeace and Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla in the Tasman Sea. They are waiting to deliver their protest message to two armed nuclear freighters.

Having halted their passage through the Tasman Sea it appears that the two vessels are trying to avoid the Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla and they are expected to continue their journey by sneaking through under cover of darkness.

The ships have drastically reduced their speed for the first time since leaving Japan. Their presence across the tiny strip of international waters has caused a stand-off between public opinion and the arrogance of the nuclear industry.

"BNFL are on the run, they ran away from Takahama Bay in Japan three hours before a court hearing in London which could have stopped this shipment from taking place, they are now running away from our eleven small yachts. They know about the huge opposition they have created in the Pacific and this protest is humiliating for them," said Richard Allen of the Nuclear Free Flotilla.

The flotilla boats arrived at their meeting point two days ago and have been preparing to meet up with the boats in order to deliver their protest message. The flotilla boats have more than 50 people from 10 different countries on board. The crews range in age from three to sixty years.

"As an elected member of the New South Wales Parliament, representing many Australians who have expressed strong anti- nuclear sentiment it is an honour to join the 50 people from other nations who are participating in the Nuclear Free Flotilla at their own expense and considerable risk to help create a safe nuclear free future," said Ian Cohen, member of the New South Wales Parliament with the flotilla.

The shipment of faulty nuclear fuel 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.

"The UK, Japan and France's attempts to keep the plutonium industry alive are completely irresponsible and show a dangerous disregard for the real proliferation risks," said Stephen Campbell, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner.

"The Pacific Nations have called for an immediate stop to the transport of nuclear shipments through their waters. The UK and Japan can no longer ignore their demands. The fact that the ships have stopped where they are shows that they will avoid breaching the Exclusive Economic Zones of Australia and New Zealand at all costs, yet they blatantly stormed through the EEZs at least six Pacific Nations. This shows their arrogant double standards to the region," said Angenette Heffernan, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner.