The Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla peacefully protesting against BNFL shipment of plutonium..
The flotilla, comprising concerned seafarers from all corners of
the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland, left the port of
Holyhead in North Wales on Sunday morning to protest the ships'
The nuclear freighters were spotted mid-afternoon today between
Ireland and south west Wales and the protest was mounted.
At times, the nuclear freighters course through the Irish Sea
took them to within one mile of Irish territorial waters. The Irish
navy had sent a patrol boat and spotter plane to monitor the
shipment and to ensure it stayed away from their coast.
The flotilla protest was peaceful, with all of the sailboats
maintaining a safe distance from the heavily armed nuclear
freighters. Two hours before the protest the captain of the Rainbow
Warrior, via emergency radio channel 16, informed both nuclear
transport ships that the protest would be peaceful, and that there
would be no interference with the navigation of the vessels.
Neither the Pacific Pintail nor Pacific Teal responded, which is in
breach of maritime safety regulations.
The Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla numbers over twenty yachts, and
the Rainbow Warrior. Jim Corr, of Irish band 'The Corrs' is amongst
the crew. Listen to Jim explaining his motivation for
joining the protest.
The Flotilla is part of a global movement to stop the nuclear
reprocessing industry from producing and trading in weapons-usable
plutonium. British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) and the French company
COGEMA which operate reprocessing plants, have amassed more than
150,000 kilograms of plutonium so far at their respective nuclear
sites. Both companies hope to secure plutonium MOX fuel contracts
with Japan. If successful it would mean as many 100 plutonium sea
shipments. However, Japan's nuclear program is in crisis with plans
to use plutonium MOX fuel frozen by its largest nuclear company,
Tokyo Electric. Opposition to the plutonium program in Japan has
grown significantly since the original falsification scandal in
1999 with the Government and utilities under pressure to abandon
their controversial program.
"This plutonium MOX should never have been shipped to Japan in
the first place in 1999. If they had their way it would now be
loaded into a nuclear reactor increasing the risks of a
catastrophic nuclear accident, " said Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace
Nuclear Campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior. "The people in
Japan know this and are committed to stopping any further business
with Japan. The UK Government which continues to support BNFL and
the trade in bomb-material needs to stop this madness before there
is a disaster." Burnie added.
Since leaving Japan on July 4th, over 80 Governments have
condemned this shipment citing environmental, security and safety
concerns. Protests along the transport route included a South
Pacific/Tasman Sea flotilla between New Zealand and Australia.
Governments along the route have demanded that the vessels not
enter their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone. The two ships are
bound for Barrow-in-Furness, where their cargo of plutonium MOX
will be unloaded and transported to the nuclear complex at
Sellafield. BNFL has no intention to do anything with the plutonium
MOX other than to dump it along with the other 70- 80,000 kilograms
of plutonium currently in store at Sellafield.
The two ships will be greeted by protests from other boats in
the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla, when it arrives at 9am Tuesday
morning in Barrow-in-Furness, BNFL' s homeport.
Please help us ensure that this is the last such transport by
sending a protest
letter to UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw.