AUSTRALIAN SENATE LEADS WAY ON NUCLEAR SHIPMENTS; IT’S TIME

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GREENPEACE AUSTRALIA PACIFIC Sydney, Australia Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS RELEASE June 20, 2002 Sydney, Australia

FOR GOVERNMENT TO FOLLOW: GREENPEACE

Greenpeace welcomes today’s Senate resolution calling on the government to stop the shipment of radioactive material through the region -- and urges the Government to follow suit.

"The Senate has displayed the sort of leadership the Government needs to be showing on behalf of our Pacific Island neighbors, who will see the faulty fuel shipped through their exclusive economic zones despite their opposition," said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner, Stephen Campbell. "This shipment poses all kinds of environmental and security risks."

British Nuclear Fuels Limited plans to transport faulty mixed oxide plutonium nuclear fuel from Japan to the United Kingdom next month. The shipment may come through the Tasman Sea and through the Pacific Island region. Many en-route countries oppose the transports because of their vulnerability to catastrophic accident, malicious attacks and the dangers they present to coastal peoples, their livelihoods and environments.

Australia as the supplier of 50% of Japan’s uranium has a responsibility and a capacity to protect the rights of our Pacific Island neighbors.

"Like the Senate, we believe the Government should deny permission for the transports through the "Australia/Japan Nuclear Safeguard Agreement," said Campbell.

"Australia has leverage our Pacific neighbors do not. However, Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle and ambitions to ship additional nuclear waste from the existing and proposed Sydney reactors ultimately compromises our potential capacity for leadership."

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Greenpeace will tomorrow go to court in an attempt to stop the shipments. Greenpeace is seeking an injunction preventing British Nuclear Fuels Limited from loading the materials onto the ships until a decision is made by the UK Environmental Agency on whether faulty MOX is "radioactive waste" and covered by a special European Commission regime for protecting the public.

The Environmental Agency launched an investigation into the matter last week. If it decides the material is radioactive waste, the shippers will need Environment Authority authorization before sailing and bringing the waste to the UK.

Contacts:

Nuclear campaigner, Stephen Campbell: ph (02) 4294 3290; mo: 0419 227 695.

Communications officer, Samantha Magick: ph: (02) 9263 0318; mo: 0407 740 454

Visit GREENPEACE: http://www.greenpeace.org.au 

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