British Plutonium freighter arrives in Japan

Planned return journey with deadly cargo angers en-route nations

Feature story - 14 June, 2002
When the armed British nuclear transport ship Pacific Pintail sailed into a Japanese port today, it was met by protests from local Japanese anti-nuclear activists and Greenpeace.

Plutonium transport ship.

The ship sailed to the Sea of Japan coast under guard from Japanese coastguard vessels and entered the port area of Takahama at 9:00am.

The vessel is due to be loaded within the next few weeks with rejected plutonium MOX fuel, shipped to Japan by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) in 1999. Then the ship is expected to return to the UK along one of three secret routes.

Greenpeace announced yesterday that the Arctic Sunrise, one of the Greenpeace ships, would shortly arrive in Japan to join the protests agsinst this MOX shipment. Greenpeace is also preparing a legal challenge against the UK Government, in an effort to prevent the shipment.

En-route nations react with alarm

Governments in the Caribbean condemned the planned shipment because of the lack of any notification by the shipping states, Japan and Britain. En-route nations also fear a terrorist attack or catastrophic accident. During the past week former security experts, including a former senior UK Government Minister from the Defense Department, have labeled the shipment as vulnerable to armed attack.

Furthermore, 34 Governments of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution calling for an assessment of the security threats posed by nuclear transports through the Caribbean Sea.

Chile called in the British and Japanese ambassadors on Thursday 6th June to convey its concerns about the shipment.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda at the OAS meeting made an impassioned plea in reference to the planned plutonium MOX shipment from Japan to the UK and called for an end to nuclear shipments. They states, "Our small states are fearful that a deliberate act of terror aimed at those ships may bring an end to our very existence. This is not fanciful or farfetched fiction."

On Friday 14 June 2002, the Vice President of the Fiji Senate made a statement on behalf of the Fiji Government. "The Fiji Government is firmly opposed to all shipments of MOX fuel through its EEZ and has always made this clear to the shipping states".

Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace said, "This plutonium MOX should never have been shipped to Japan in the first place. In fact, these shipments present a global threat to the environment through risk of accident or deliberate attack. This shipment must be abandoned."