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(en) Nukes Ahoy - Resistance #14 (Ireland)

From Al S <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Fri, 2 Aug 2002 18:00:00 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

ON APRIL 26TH, 2 armed British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL)
freighters left Barrow-in-Furness, northern England en
route for Takahama, Japan. Their mission? To transport
enough plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) back to
Sellafield to build 50 nuclear bombs: each bomb vastly
more devastating than the 2 dropped on the citiesof
Hiroshima and Nagasaki over 50 years before.

But the date, April 26th is also a significant one. It
was then, 16 years ago, that the worst disaster in the
history of the nuclear industry occurred at Chernobyl,
Russia. When the nuclear reactor on the site blew,
more than 100 emergency workers suffered radiation
sickness and 41 died. Since then, there has been a
dramatic increase in childhood thyroid cancer in the
area, normally a very rare disease. According to
Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner Shaun
Burnie ?they could not have chosen a more fitting date
to remind the international community of the arrogance
and dangerous risk-taking of the nuclear industry?.

But this is not the first time this particular cargo
of nuclear material has been on the high seas. Back in
1999, it was shipped as fuel to Japan, only for the
Japanese to discover that BNFL, the manufacturer, had
falsified critical quality control data during its
production. Japan has been sitting on the load ever
since, but now wants BNFL to take it back. Under
international law the shipment couldn?t go ahead
unless authorised by the US. The US duly gave its
approval on the basis that the plutonium was to be
recovered and returned to Japan in the form of fresh
MOX fuel assemblies. Yet the UK Government has told
Parliament that the faulty MOX is to be imported and
stored at Sellafield while BNFL decides what to do
with it. Not only that but the UK has promised the
Irish Government and the International Law of the Sea
(ITLOS), that there would be no transports associated
with theoperation of the Sellafield MOX plant before
October 2002. So, the import must be in breach either
of the US authorisation or the undertakings given to
ITLOS. ?The industry is creating a floating terrorist
target and a dangerous hazard simply in order for BNFL
to be able to get new contracts with its Japanese
customers. This would result in yet more shipments of
plutonium fuel, perhaps as many as 80 over the next
decade,? Mr Burnie said. There are also serious
concerns about the safety of the shipment, which
should also have prevented the BNFL vessel leaving
back in April. The cask in which the plutonium is
being transported has not yet been licensed by the
Japanese authorities. An earlier licence was revoked
when it was discovered that levels of the single
largest source of radioactivity in the cask, the
radioisotope Plutonium-241, will be up to twice as
high as originally estimated.

However, the two vessels, the Pacific Pintail and the
Pacific Teal, one acting as an armed escort, the other
carrying the plutonium, are currently facing a barrage
of international opposition as they make their return
journey back from Japan via the Pacific-Tasman
Sea-South Africa route. ?The nuclear shipping nations
of Japan, UK and France arrogantly view the Pacific as
the route of least resistance,? said Greenpeace
Pacific Nuclear Campaigner Ang Heffernan. ?There is no
justification for this rejected plutonium MOX
shipment. It is only occurring because BNFL, which
originally shipped this material from the UK through
the Pacific to Japan in 1999, deliberately falsified
vital quality control safety data during its
manufacture.? At the moment, the ships are still in
the South Pacific, and face opposition from all the
governments in the area including Fiji and the
Federated States of Micronesia.

A more direct approach has come from the ?Nuclear Free
Seas? flotilla movement
(nuclearfreeflotilla.org)against plutonium transports
which was launched last year in the South Pacific with
protests in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and
Australia, as well as in Fiji. This year it has now
spread to South America?s Cape Horn, and the Irish
Sea. On July 7th the Greenpeace yacht, the Tiama,
joined the Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla as yachts
left Australia and New Zealand to protest against the
shipment of plutonium through the Pacific and Tasman
Sea. They will join the seven ships from New Zealand
and two from Vanuatu, and will gather in the northern
Tasman Sea to wait for the two ships carrying the
reject plutonium mixed oxide (MOX).

While we in the AF support the use of direct action
tactics in all our struggles against capital, we don?t
think the struggle against the MOX project should be
the preserve of those fortunate enough to own a boat.
What about the rest of us landlovers? What we need is
a long campaign of committed and consistent direct
action with enough longevity to last until the MOX
plant and Sellafield are closed down for good. Irish
activists are planning a protest at Barrow-on-Furness
(BNFL?s home port). Contact Barry O?Donovan at:
fgod@hotpop.com or at: 087-232-0437


>From the pages of Resistance#14, regular monthly
bulletin of the Anarchist Federation Ireland, now
available in text and PDF format at:



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