July 2002

78 Nations Condemn Nuclear Shipments

ENS Correspondents, July 22, 2002

[Posted 26/07/2002]

NADI, Fiji, July 19, 2002 (ENS) - Japan and the United Kingdom were denounced for ongoing plutonium waste shipments through the Pacific Ocean by the 78 nations of the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Summit in their final declaration Friday.

The leaders called for an immediate end to the shipments that have entered the Exclusive Economic Zones of five Pacific nations this week.

The Nadi Declaration of the Third Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government says, "We express our strong objection to the transport of nuclear and other hazardous materials through the waters around ACP states. We call for the immediate cessation of such practice, in order to prevent any occurrence of accidents that could seriously threaten their sustainable development and the health of their peoples."

Summit host Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase asked African and Caribbean delegates to join their Pacific counterparts in expressing outrage and opposition to those who are so willing to put the Pacific and its peoples at risk.

He said the Pacific people's close relationship to the ocean is the reason why they are so adamantly opposed to actions that expose them to threats of pollution, hazardous wastes, and destructive effects of nuclear materials.

The two ships, Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, carrying 255 kgs of weapons-usable material were found Friday by Greenpeace well within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of New Caledonia, at coordinates the group reports as 20 degrees, 31 minutes South and 163 degrees, 10 minutes East at around 12 noon Fiji time.

In the last week the two ships have also breached the EEZs of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Solomons, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Vanuatu's Deputy Prime Minister Serge Vohor said it is time to put a full stop to these shipments.

"Greenpeace congratulates and applauds the African Caribbean and Pacific Governments for taking this courageous and strong stance on this issue," said nuclear campaigner, Angenette Heffernan.

"We recognize that many of these countries have donor aid relationships with the shipping nations, but they have gone ahead and expressed their strong opposition, prioritizing their concerns over the devastating health and environmental consequences of allowing these shipments to continue. Japan, the UK and Australia can no longer use their aid to force countries into accepting these lethal shipments through their waters."

British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. which operates the two ships, routinely issues assurances that the waste shipments are safe. They carry spent nuclear fuel from Japan to the UK for reprocessing over routes that are kept secret. Plans are in the works to return the material in the form of mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel back to Japan for the generation of electricity.

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