Boats set sail from Auckland to join the flotilla before that will protest British Nuclear Fuels plutonium shipment transport through the Pacific ocean.
These unusual allies share a common concern about the dangers
posed by British Nuclear Fuel's shipment of weapons-usable
plutonium past their countries, and they are determined to ensure
it never happens again.
Ross Barnett, from Australia, skippers a 33-foot sailboat called
Moontide. In a few days, he will be sailing into the depths of
winter on the Tasman Sea to join a flotilla of a dozen sailboats
from Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu. The small flotilla will
oppose the transit of the Pacific Pintail carrying plutonium
through the Tasman. "I have a three year old grandson," says Ross.
"The thought struck me, what if he asks me one day if I ever stood
up to be counted?"
Ross and others hope to intercept the Pacific Pintail which left
Japan for England on July 4th carrying the cargo of rejected mixed
plutonium uranium fuel. The route through the Pacific announced by
the UK and Japanese nuclear industries after the ship departed
passes through the Tasman sea, around Cape Horn and finally through
the Irish sea to British Nuclear Fuel's facility at Sellafield in
Dennis Johnson, a chimney sweep from New
Zealand is now sailing on board the yacht Joie. Dennis is a
long-time anti-nuclear activist who sailed to Moruroa atoll in the
South Pacific in 1995 protesting France's nuclear tests there. "I'm
old enough to really appreciate how bloody wonderful this planet
that nurtures us is. I'd like my two kids to think they have a
parent who could see at least past his own lifetime," says
The commitment of people like Ross and Dennis is both inspiring
and courageous. One individual's action can make a difference. Even
if you can't sail a boat into the path of a nuclear transport, you
can show your opposition. For those of us watching from home,
joining our virtual
flotilla will show your support for the brave activists out on
the rough seas. You can also talk with other people speaking out
against nuclear transports and participate in cyberactions
throughout the transport routes.
Already, many people and countries are speaking out against this
In Ireland, sentiment against British Nuclear Fuels, its
Sellafield plutonium facility and the return of this plutonium fuel
shipment are running high. The Irish government has taken the
British government to the International Law of the Sea Tribunal
opposing the opening of the new Sellafield mixed plutonium-uranium
fuel plant which will mean dozens more plutonium transports in the
An accident or attack on a nuclear transport at sea could have
catastrophic consequences for coastal states, and yet the British
and Japanese governments have refused to consult with countries
along the route, not even concerning plans for emergencies or
liability agreements in the case of radioactive contamination.
Countries uneasy with this shipment are mainly small island
states in the Pacific such as Fiji, as well as countries along
alternative shipment routes including Chile, Brazil, and
Opposition to nuclear transports is no longer just a few hippies
in fast inflatable boats. This shipment has united people in a
worldwide movement with flotillas developing in Australia, New
Zealand, Argentina, Chile and Ireland.
Marie-Paul Guillaumot and Hugues Delignières have a
charter boat, Le Sourire, based in Ushuaia, Argentina. Marie Paul
is a tourist guide and translator, Hugues has sailed and worked on
French racing boats and over-wintered alone on the Antarctic
peninsula in his first boat, Oviri. "We will protest with the
flotilla because this plutonium shipment is a top priority. It is
not acceptable to us that plutonium shipments pass so near Cape
Horn," Marie-Paul says.
The largest opposition is likely to come as the Pacific Pintail
nears its destination.
Paul Barrett will be part of a large flotilla
leaving from Ireland and is keen to ensure that Irish voices are
heard in protest when the Pacific Pintail sails through the Irish
Sea to Sellafield. Paul was a record producer, composer and
musician until he retired for a life that brings him closer to
nature as a sailing instructor in 1997. Since then he has taught
people to sail aboard the Tuscair, a 48-foot Endurance staysail
"It is utterly frustrating to have to live for so long between
the lies, corruption, and falsification of the British government
concerning Sellafield," says Paul. "The real nuclear terrorism is
the one we have to deal with everyday, perpetrated against the
people of both Ireland and Britain by British Nuclear Fuels, and
its cynical regulation by the British government."
You can take action today to oppose the nuclear transport. Join the
Find out more about the flotilla participants at the Nuclear
Free Seas Flotilla website.
Visit Greenpeace's Stop Plutonium Terror website to learn more
about the plutonium shipment.