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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (February 28, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Yachts from both sides of the Tasman Sea have joined a mid-ocean protest against a pair of ships carrying nuclear fuel through the Pacific.

The four yachts left New Zealand on February 18 to meet three more vessels from Sydney near Lord Howe Island.

The 39 people aboard the yachts, forming the nuclear-free Tasman flotilla, are preparing to face two British-flagged ships, Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, which are expected ''any day now,'' said spokesman Henk Haazen.

The flotilla plans to hoist anti-nuclear banners near the British ships.

The environmental group Greenpeace said the cargo contains 230 kilograms (506 pounds) of plutonium and uranium oxides that were recycled from spent nuclear fuel.

Greenpeace said the cargo contains enough plutonium to make 20 atomic bombs.

The fuel is destined for a Japanese nuclear reactor.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.  

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