Shortly after a flotilla of small boats set out to protest a shipment of weapons-usable plutonium through the Tasman sea, a possible security escort, the HMS Nottingham, ran aground off the east coast of Australia.
HMS Nottingham, one of the British Navy's most advanced destroyers ran aground off the east coast of Australia.
The destroyer HMS Nottingham, one of the most advanced ships of
the British navy, was rumoured to be in the Tasman as a security
escort for the plutonium ship. The grounding during a week of bad
weather that has devastated the Federated States of Micronesia only
highlights how irresponsible and dangerous this whole transport
British Nuclear Fuels' plutonium shipment will be passing
through these rough winter waters in the Tasman Sea within two
weeks on route from Japan to England. The risk of catastrophic
accident such as fire or collision involving the ship Pacific
Pintail and the release of its cargo of plutonium into the
environment is all the greater given the failure of British or
Japanese governments to conduct a thorough environmental impact
assessment as required by international law.
In the past week it has also been revealed that the Pacific
Pintail and escort ship Teal are suffering from corrosion that
threatens their structural safety. British Nuclear Fuels refused to
release details concerning the state of the ships. The Japanese
government only learnt about this problem after news reports.
Is it really safe for these corroding ships to pass through
waters that have grounded one of the British navy's most advanced
Parts of the route planned for the plutonium shipments are
officially classified as Marine High Risk Areas by Lloyds of
Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Stephen Campbell seriously wonders
if those who are making the decision to send these ships through
this region in the middle of winter know what they are doing.
"The shipment is dangerous enough on its own let alone adding
risk by sending it through the southern seas in winter," said
Questions have also been raised regarding why the HMS Nottingham
is in this region in the first place. UK Channel 4 News has
speculated that it is there to protect the plutonium shipments from
terrorist attack, although the ministry of defence has denied the
"There have been rumours running for the last few months that
the shipment of reject plutonium, carrying 255 kilograms of
weapons-usable material would have an additional escort that would
not be part of the public plan," said Campbell. "Clearly those
making the shipment recognise what a security risk it is".
The HMS Nottingham ran aground off Lord Howe 300 miles north
east of Sydney, near where the Pacific Flotilla will converge.
There have been no casualties, but the ship is now leaking oil and
taking on water. Only last week an oil tanker also grounded off the
coast of Fiji and the rough winter weather of the southern seas is
far from over.
But a group of citizens are braving the rough waters in the
Tasman to protest the plutonium shipment.
You can read more about the Nuclear Free Seas flotilla in this