Greenpeace will seek a High Court Injunction in London at 10.30am Thursday to halt British Nuclear Fuels´ (BNFL´s) and Pacific Nuclear Transport´s (PNTL´s) planned shipment of plutonium from Japan to the UK.
The armed British nuclear transport ship, Pacific Pintail sailing into Takahama, Japan on 14 June 2002.
Despite an investigation launched last week by the English
regulator, the Environment Agency, into the legality of BNFL's
planned shipment, the company has refused to give any assurances
that it won´t carry out the shipment.
Two armed British ships - the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal -
arrived in Japan on Friday 14th June to collect the rejected
plutonium MOX which BNFL sold to the Japanese in 1999. After that
sale, it was later revealed that BNFL had deliberately falsified
vital safety control data.
BNFL hope that by making the return shipment they will secure
large contracts from the Japanese utilities for MOX production at
the new Sellafield MOX Plant. Since the 1999 scandal, Japan's plans
to move ahead with loading hundreds of tons of MOX fuel reactors
have stalled, prompted by public fears over safety and reliability
of the MOX producers.
The Pacific Pintail arrived at the port of Takahama, Japan on
Friday 14th where it delivered the transport cask that it wants to
load with the rejected MOX. Kansai Electric, the original customer
for BNFL, have stated that loading of the MOX into the cask will
begin on Friday June 21st. BNFL has not made any decision about
what to do with the radioactive material, apart from storing
Greenpeace says that this means the rejected fuel is
"radioactive waste" in European and UK law. Radioactive waste may
only be transported to the UK with the permission of the
"The Environment Agency has not come to a decision on whether it
agrees that this material is radioactive waste. In the meantime
BNFL has refused to halt preparations for the proposed shipment, so
we are seeking an injunction to prevent them carrying out any
irrevocable steps," said Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace.
Over 50 countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and the South
Pacific opposed the original shipment of the MOX fuel to Japan in
1999. The return is almost certain to generate even greater
opposition. Already in the past month, Foreign Ministers in the
Caribbean have issued a unanimous condemnation of the planned
shipment, in particular citing security concerns and lack of
consultation by the UK and Japan. They have demanded that it not
use the Caribbean Sea route on its return from Japan. The 34
Governments of the OAS have similarly questioned the security
hazards of the shipment and agreed to conduct a review.