ACCIDENT AT JAPANESE NUCLEAR PLANT ON EVE OF MOX SHIP ARRIVAL

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GREENPEACE PACIFIC Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS RELEASE October 1, 1999

An accident at the Tokaimura nuclear site in Japan yesterday exposes once again the lack of an adequate nuclear safety regime in Japan, said Greenpeace. And it makes it all the more important that the South Pacific Forum leaders now meeting in Palau make a strong statement about the MOX (mixed oxide) fuel shipments through the region.

The explosion and contamination of workers at the site north of Tokyo, comes less than 24 hours before the arrival of a shipment of weapons-usable fuel at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture. This is the same shipment that passed through the South Pacific recently, despite a number of strong protests from Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The plutonium shipment is now at the center of a scandal after the producers of the MOX fuel, British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), admitted to falsifying important safety data during production.

The owners of the Takahama reactor are now investigating the scandal, but Greenpeace believes that they are trying to limit the investigation, and are ignoring basic safety standards.

The limited information made publicly available is enough to raise serious doubts about the quality of the current delivery, said Greenpeace international's Shaun Burnie.

It should also give Forum Island leaders food for thought, said Samantha Magick of Greenpeace Pacific.

The nations responsible for shipping this fuel have time and again warned South Pacific states of the safety of the entire process. This accident proves this is blatantly untrue, Magick said.

Greenpeace believes the shipments should end until the concerns of South Pacific states about safety, liability and compensation and prior notification issues are addressed satisfactorily.

For further information: In Palau: Samantha Magick: Tel: (680) 4881671 (hotel) or (680) 4888019 (Media Center); E-mail: greenpeace@is.com.fj  In Fiji: Angie Heffernan: Tel: (679) 312861 (office) or (679) 978 044 (mobile) In Japan: Shaun Burnie: Tel: (81) 090 2253 7306 (mobile)

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