NO-ONE CAN GUARD AGAINST 'HUMAN ERROR' SAYS NUCLEAR FREE FLOTILLA
Bay of Islands, NZ, July 10, 2002
The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla called the grounding of the HMS Nottingham extremely unfortunate but it should be seen as clear warning that human error is something that no transport is immune from.
The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla departed Auckland last Sunday after a rousing send-off by the Prime Minister and hundreds of well-wishers.
"Human error is something that all ships have to contend with. No matter how sophisticated your equipment or how safe you think you are, it can happen to any of us, said Henk Haazen of the Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla.
"It's ironic but rather than provide protection, the grounding of the escort vessel for the MOX shipment has done the complete opposite: it has highlighted how dangerous and vulnerable the whole transport is."
UK Channel 4 News is standing by its claims that the HMS Nottingham was to be an escort for the two UK armed freighters carrying the faulty plutonium MOX through the region over the next two weeks. They said that their information came from an extremely reliable senior military source. Since Sunday the UK government and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, a wholly government owned company, has denied that the Nottingham was on escort duty for the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal.
One of the Nuclear Free Pacific boats, 'Love of Gaia' that departed Australia on Sunday, is due to arrive at Lord Howe shortly and has offered any assistance to the stricken UK vessel.
"As a sailor, running aground would be one of the worst nightmares that you would not wish on anyone," said Haazen.
"Especially when you are supposed to be the escort vessel for a dangerous cargo through the same area."
Prime Minister attends Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla departure
Auckland, New Zealand, 7 July 2002
The Prime Minister of New Zealand was one of a large crowd that gathered in support in Auckland to farewell the New Zealand arm of the Pacific flotilla which plans to gather next week in the northern Tasman Sea and wait for two ships carrying reject plutonium en route from Japan to England.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, an official speaker at the flotilla departure, gave strong words of support and said the Pacific Ocean, the Tasman Sea and New Zealand should remain nuclear free.
The Prime Minister also said the New Zealand Government had officially contacted the British and Japanese governments stating strong objection to the transportation of nuclear materials through the Pacific.
"This shipment is totally unnecessary and puts us all at risk," said Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace spokesperson.
People at the flotilla departure were treated to live music from Polynesian and Latin bands and to an exhibition that showed the many faces of the flotilla worldwide. The public was encouraged to tie a ribbon in support of the Nuclear Free Seas flotillas. The exhibition will run until 14 July.
The Pacific Flotilla is also made up of yachts from Vanuatu and Australia which have already departed for the Tasman Sea.
The two armed UK freighters the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal departed Japan July four and are expected to reach the Tasman within two to three weeks.
Flotillas have formed in the South America and Ireland to protest these shipments demonstrating the growing concern that the public has over the transportation of plutonium, said McDiarmid.
Auckland, July 1, 2001
The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla is now 12 boats strong and ready to sail out into the Tasman should the planned shipment of reject plutonium returning to the UK from Japan decide to use the Tasman as its route.
The Nuclear Free Pacific flotilla is made up of boats from around the region. Seven are planning to depart from Auckland, three from Australia and two from Vanuatu. They are part of a broader movement that has seen a flotilla develop off Cape Horn in the South American region and one in the Irish Sea. They are protesting the unnecessary and dangerous transport of plutonium MOX and nuclear waste around the world's oceans.
The rejected plutonium MOX shipment, containing 255 kgs of weapons-usable plutonium is being returned to the UK after British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) admitted to falsifying critical safety data after the fuel had arrived in Japan in 1999. A second shipment of MOX from France to Japan in 2001 faced the same quality concerns and also lies unused in Japan.
The route the return shipment will take from Japan back to the UK is still unknown, but whichever route it takes a protest flotilla will be there to meet it. The shipment is expected to depart Japan this week. Kansai Electric, the Japanese utility returning the reject plutonium said that they will announce the route the shipment will take 24 hours after departure from Japan.
A team from British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), is currently in Fiji. During past shipments a team of people from BNFL have been dispatched to the region through which the shipment will pass to appease concerned governments. A number of governments in the Caribbean and the Pacific have made statements opposing the planned shipment.
"It really is absolute madness to ship these dangerous materials around our planet and more and more people are coming to see that, said Henk Haazen of the Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla. "The flotilla here in the Pacific is now twice as big as last year. Ordinary people want their oceans and seas to be nuclear free and are prepared to put to sea with their families in the middle of the winter to make sure that Japan and the UK have no doubts about that."
NUCLEAR FREE SEAS FLOTILLA SPREADS AROUND THE WORLD.
Today three flotillas from the Pacific, Cape Horn and the Irish Sea announced their intention to protest against the shipment of rejected plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) due to leave Japan for the UK in early July.
The rejected plutonium MOX shipment, containing 255 kgs of weapons-usable plutonium is being returned to the UK after British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) admitted to falsifying critical safety data after the fuel had arrived in Japan in 1999.
The route the return shipment will take from Japan back to the UK is still unknown, but whichever route it takes a protest flotilla will be there to meet it. If it is the Pacific and Tasman Sea route the shipment is expected to pass through the protest zone in mid July. At least eight boats are preparing in Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand to form a symbolic chain across international waters to protest the shipment through the Pacific and Tasman Sea.
If the Cape Horn route is chosen, the five boats that currently make up the Cape Horn flotilla will be braving the winter weather off the Horn to send their message of protest. Whichever route the shipment takes to the UK the boat will have to go through the Irish Sea to reach its destination and there it will be met by a large Irish flotilla.
Seven boats formed the Tasman Sea flotilla last year when a second shipment of plutonium MOX, this time from the French Areva company passed through. The Pacific Pintail carrying the plutonium MOX fuel changed course to avoid the flotilla.
"The flotilla movement has grown in just a year says Bernard Kuczera, from the Pacific flotilla "Sailors all around the world are joining the coastal states that are already protesting these totally unnecessary and dangerous shipments"
The quality of the French plutonium MOX, delivered to Japan last year has also been called into question. Public referenda and concerns over the use of MOX in Japanese reactors have meant no MOX fuel that has been delivered to Japan has been used.
"As part of the flotilla I have the opportunity to act in a positive way against the nuclear industry. I am completely against the plutonium shipment transiting through these wild southern seas, which I know really well and where serious problems may occur. One is never a hundred per cent sure of the sea? this is true at Cape Horn or on any other route", says Olivier Pauffin from the Cape Horn flotilla.
"The Irish community feels it has suffered because of Sellafield and people here believe that their protests have been ignored by BNFL and by the British government, said Rowan Hand from the Irish Flotilla. "The Flotilla is a means of giving expression to high levels of concern and the interest in the project grows daily. In the weeks leading up to the August Flotilla we will be garnering the enthusiasm of our sailing friends and I am certain that a large flotilla will depart the historic port of Carlingford to make its protest" he said.
"Quite simply the Irish Sea is not a dumping ground for the UK nuclear industry. The Irish people will not be bullied into accepting this; it is unjust and ultimately offensive, said Ron van der Horst from the Irish flotilla. "People are uniting all over the world to stop these shipments."