PLUTONIUM SHIPS BREACH TWO MORE

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GREENPEACE AUSTRALIA PACIFIC Sydney, Australia Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS RELEASE July 17, 2002 Port Vila, Vanuatu

EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONES:
SOLOMON ISLANDS AND VANUATU

Greenpeace has found the faulty plutonium Mixed Oxide (MOX) shipment within Solomon Islands and Vanuatu waters. The ships were found at 12 degrees 19.8 minutes South, 163 degrees 14.2 minutes East on a bearing of 190 degrees magnetic.

The ships were found at around 4 p.m. close to Rennel Island within the Solomon’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Torres Island and Espiritu Santo within the Vanuatu EEZ. This puts the two British flagged nuclear freighters, carrying 255 kg of weapons-useable plutonium, on a course to transit through the EEZ of New Caledonia.

"British Nuclear Fuels has ludicrously called Greenpeace irresponsible for publicizing the location of this dangerous shipment. It is they who are avoiding their responsibility under international law of informing nations that they are in their waters, and it was their irresponsibility in falsifying crucial safety data, which is bringing this shipment through the region twice unnecessarily," said Angenette Heffernan, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner

Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Serge Vohor is reported to be angry at the breach of his country’s EEZ and the lack of consultation. He has accused Britain and Japan of disrespecting his country's sovereignty. He is attending the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit in Nadi.

Each nation has the right to protect the marine environment within its EEZ from hazardous nuclear shipments under the Law of the Sea Convention. The shipping states have not fulfilled their obligations under the International Law of the Sea, which includes consulting with en route states. Therefore the BNFL ships, Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, have jeopardized their right to "freedom of navigation" within EEZs.

"The ACP meeting is the perfect opportunity for the rest of the Pacific governments to follow the example of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, FSM and Cook Islands, and state their strong opposition," said Heffernan.

The Federated States of Micronesia has lodged a complaint with Japan over the breaching of their EEZ on Saturday July 13. Greenpeace also believes the Pacific Teal and Pacific Pintail breached the EEZ of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Friday July 12. [Calculations based on the path and speed of the ships puts their location at 1500 hrs local time at approximately 11 degrees 30 minutes north, 158 degrees 05 minutes east -- putting them about 150 miles off Ujelang Atoll in the RMI.]

The shameful passage of the plutonium ships can be seen on a map hanging outside the Greenpeace office in the Old Town Hall, Victoria St.

The Nuclear Free Pacific Flotilla yachts, which left in the last week from Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia, are closing in on their destination in the Tasman Sea. They are gathering to "bear witness" as the plutonium ships move past.

The Flotilla is made up of individual boat owners -- with crews onboard ranging in age from 3 to over 60 years old.

For further information, please contact

SUVA: Ange Heffernan, Greenpeace Pacific Nuclear Campaigner +679 99 22 044

Simon Boxer, Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaigner +31 629 001 132

Website: www.greenpeace.org.au 

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