Nowhere to run to....nowhere to hide

Feature story - 15 September, 2002
Two British freighters with their cargo of weapons-usable plutonium, are now in the home straight of an 18,000 mile transport of terror. As the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal near the Irish Sea on their journey from Japan to Barrow on England's north west coast, the full glare of the public spotlight is being prepared for their arrival.


A flotilla of sailboats from Ireland and the British Isles and our own Rainbow Warrior are in the Irish Sea to peacefully protest against and to highlight the madness of the shipment.

The freighters were spotted off the coast of Portugal a few days ago and are expected to enter the Irish Sea by Monday 16th or Tuesday 17th September. There is no information yet that the ship's operators, BNFL, have notified the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament about the route the ships will now take. The nuclear shipment could pass less than 10 miles from their coasts and population. The main concerns are that the ships are vulnerable to catastrophic accident or terrorist attack, which could lead to large-scale contamination of the marine environment and coastal communities.

The Irish Government, backed by all opposition parties has condemned the imminent arrival of the plutonium shipment. Following meetings of its Emergencies Committee, the Government in Dublin agreed to deploy naval vessels and aircraft to track the shipment and to ensure that it did not enter Irish waters.

The Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotlla, which the Rainbow Warrior is supporting, comprises individuals whose love of the sea and communities that it supports, has united them to take action to protect it.

BNFL and the British Government should take note of the strength of commitment of some of the people whose lives they risk with their deadly shipments and radioactive discharges from the Sellafield nuclear plant.

Paul Barrett:

"As mariners we constantly face the challenge of the seas and nature. We survive the often dangerous conditions because we have learnt to respect the might of the sea and pay due consideration to the amazing natural amenity that we as sailors are honoured to sail upon.

Why is that respect not reciprocated by BNFL. How can they continue to make the Irish Sea the most toxic sea on this planet?"

Paul Doody:

"The sea has been in my family for many years. These guys [BNFL nuclear freighter crew] are also sailors but I guess it's hard to approach them. I would ask them, though, how they could run this cargo through oceans that they could destroy .. destroy something that sailors for many centuries have enjoyed? - I don't understand."

Derek Harris:

A prayer for the flotilla.

".....that those who see us have a change of heart and realise that with your power and our strength and commitment that, perhaps, in the long term, we may be able to cause change in other people."

Photos and sound bites from the skippers and route map.

We hope that the expression of outrage at the end of this deadly cargo's journey, added to the strong protests of 80 en-route nations and other flotillas of concerned sailors, will ensure that this is the last time our oceans and seas are used as nuclear highways.

Tell UK Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, that we don't want any more transports of terror and join our virtual flotilla.