Thursday, November 16, 2006

Irish Coastguard On Full Alert

A ship carrying a cargo of nuclear fuel could pass as close as 12 miles to the Irish coast within the next 48 hours. The Coastguard has been put on full alert to monitor the controversial shipment of MOX fuel from Sellafield to Cherbourg via the Irish Sea. The Government yesterday said the ship, containing about 90kg of plutonium, was barred from Irish waters. But our limit only extends for 12 miles and there is nothing to stop the ship travelling through international waters just beyond this distance. Amid mounting calls for the shipment to be halted, Environment Minister Dick Roche said he had raised a number of concerns with the environmental risk from an accident or incident.
Atlantic Osprey
The ship, the Atlantic Osprey, is understood to be preparing to carry 1.25 tonnes of mixed oxide or MOX fuel, which contains about 90kg of plutonium, to Cherbourg within the next few days. The Green Party, the Labour Party and Sinn Fein all urged the minister to block the cargo. Mr Roche said the Government had secured an assurance from the UK that the MOX fuel shipment would not enter Irish territorial waters and was governed by a stringent system of regulation established in line with internationally agreed standards and recommendations. Mr Roche said the Irish Government's concerns in relation to nuclear shipments are regularly and repeatedly conveyed to the UK Government at ministerial and official level. "The United Kingdom Government is under no illusions as to Irish Government policy on such shipments. They are aware that these shipments cannot enter Irish waters."

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