Published on Monday, September 16, 2002 in the Times/UK
Nuclear Cargo Ships Face Protest in Irish Sea
Two ships carrying radioactive material back to Sellafield were expected to face a massive protest today when they entered the Irish Sea.
A fleet of up to 20 boats, led by Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, were on standby this morning in the south of the Irish Sea to highlight what they described as the "dangers of nuclear material".
The five-tonne cargo of plutonium mixed oxide fuel (mox) was sent back from Takahama in Japan after safety records at Sellafield, which is operated by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), were exposed as false in 1999.
The two nuclear freighters, the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, carrying the the fuel were located yesterday by Greenpeace in the North Atlantic, 200 miles off the French coast.
The ships, which were heading north towards the Irish Sea, have sailed around 17,500 miles since they left Japan in July and are expected to reach port at Barrow, near Sellafield, Cumbria, tomorrow morning.
Part of the flotilla of protesting boats left the port of Holyhead yesterday morning to station itself in the south of the Irish Sea, while others departed for Barrow.
Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace said the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla now numbered more than 20 yachts and had been growing daily, with other yachts on standby.
"It has been deployed to different areas of the Irish Sea to ensure the ships receive the maximum impact of the protest," he said.
"These two international pariah ships will enter the Irish Sea to be confronted with flotilla boats, which together represent the views of countries around the world which are saying this trade in nuclear bomb material has to stop before a disaster happens."
The activists, including Irish rock star Jim Corr, put to sea on Thursday to search for the radioactive shipment on its way back to Sellafield.
The group’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, led a handful of boats from Dublin port while more vessels set sail further south from Arklow in County Wicklow.
In addition to the protest, the Irish government has decided to deploy Navy vessels and spotter aircraft in its territory in the region to monitor the shipment when it nears its shores.
Copyright 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd.