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NEWS RELEASE December 7, 2000


Greenpeace today welcomed the announcement that the 'Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla' is reforming five years after its campaign against French testing in Moruroa, and has contributed the Greenpeace vessel, Tiama, to protest against the increasing nuclearization of the Australia-Pacific region.

The flotilla is forming to oppose and protest the build-up of nuclear concerns in the region including:

• the imminent plutonium (Mox) fuel transport from Europe to Japan through the EEZs of a number of Pacific Island countries,

• the shipment of spent nuclear fuel from the Lucas Heights reactor to Europe,

• and the return of Australian waste from Europe.

"This flotilla is an alliance of outraged community members. People of the region haven't had their concerns heard, they haven't been consulted, still they can't sit back and watch the nuclear renaissance in this region," said Angenette Heffernan, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner.

"The Australian government is intent on encouraging this industry. Surely it is aware of the robust public opposition to the nuclear problems of the last three decades. Setting sail will remind them."

Under the name ‘Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla,’ sailing boats from New Zealand and Australia will peacefully protest, "bearing witness" to the shipment of radioactive plutonium fuel which will pass through the Pacific Ocean, en route to Japan from Europe.

"French nuclear testing in Moruroa over the years was undermined by the images of small boats sailing in defiance of the French government. At that time, the flotilla became symbolic of the struggle for self-determination, peace and the environment. Those symbols are needed again, this time to protest against nuclear shipments by the Australian, Japanese, British and French governments," said Heffernan.

Two British-flagged merchant ships, the Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal, will sail 30,000 km (18,000 miles) via the South Pacific to Japan within the next few months. They will carry over 230 kg (506 pounds) of weapons usable plutonium on board. During the 1999 plutonium MOX fuel shipment to Japan over 25 countries lodged formal protests against the shipment including Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Fiji.

Also planned is Australia's shipment of over 500 spent nuclear fuel rods from Lucas Heights to La Hague in France. Australia has plans for a new nuclear reactor which will commit Australia to waste shipments for another 40 years.

For additional information:

Contact Greenpeace nuclear campaigner, Angenette Heffernan in Fiji on ++679 312861, Greenpeace media officer Samantha Magick in Sydney on +612 9263 0318 or Tony Atkinson of the Nuclear Free Tasman Flotilla in New Zealand on ++ 64 21 368 210.


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