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Yachts Block Path of Nuclear Ships
Published on Sunday, July 21, 2002 by the BBC
Chain Reaction
Yachts Block Path of Nuclear Ships
 

A flotilla of anti-nuclear protesters in yachts have formed a blockade in the Tasman Sea against two ships carrying plutonium to Britain from Japan.


Chain of yachts form blockade in the Tasman sea on July 21, 2002.
(AFP Photo)
The 11 yachts have formed a chain in the sea passage between Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands, which lie halfway between Australia and New Zealand.

The freighters are due to pass through the passage at first light on Monday (1800GMT Sunday). The environmental group Greenpeace says the ships have already reduced their speed, although the protest is a symbolic one and they do not expect them to stop.

Greenpeace says the ships - Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal - are carrying enough plutonium waste to make 50 nuclear bombs.

The organization believes the ships are a potential terrorist target and says it wants to stop the South Pacific becoming a nuclear highway.

The radioactive material is being returned to Britain because Japan found that safety documentation with it had been falsified.

More than 50 protesters are taking part in the Nuclear-Free Seas Flotilla, including Ian Cohen, an elected member of the New South Wales parliament in Australia.

High seas

The flotilla consists of seven New Zealand yachts, three from Australia and one from the tiny pacific islands of Vanuatu.

They have battled high seas and unpredictable weather for the past two days to be ready for the two freighters, which left Japan on 4 July

A smaller flotilla took part in a protest last year when a nuclear shipment from France passed through the Tasman Sea en route to Japan.

Pacific Island nations have opposed the shipment of nuclear materials through their waters.

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