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Saturday, 14 September, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Boats parade in anti-nuclear protest
The Rainbow Warrior
The Rainbow Warrior is to lead the protest flotilla
A flotilla of ships protesting at the planned transport of radioactive fuel through the Irish Sea has set off on a parade around a north Wales harbour to highlight the cause.

The flotilla of about 25 boats is being led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace's flagship vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, and includes vessels from Wales and Ireland.

One group of boats have travelled up from Pembrokeshire to take part in the parade.

Jim Corr
Pop star Jim Corr is one of the protestors
Latest reports from Greenpeace suggest that two ships transporting nuclear fuel to Sellafield in Cumbria may travel around the west coast of Ireland rather than through the Irish Sea off Wales.

One of the protestors on board is the Irish pop star Jim Corr, from the group The Corrs, who is against nuclear transportation.

He told BBC Wales: "I basically got involved to lend my support to the protest.

"I think it's absolute madness to be transporting nuclear materials on our oceans.

"I think it's intolerable that the Irish Sea should be allowed for the transport of nuclear materials."

Rainbow Warrior anchored at Holyhead on Thursday night as campaigners worked out how the flotilla should confront two armed merchant ships en-route from Japan to Barrow in Cumbria.

The ships are part of a purpose-built fleet on a voyage carrying more than 200 kilos of mixed oxide nuclear fuel destined for British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) at the Sellafield reprocessing plant.


We don't need BNFL to tell us how safe our protests are

Greenpeace activist
The cargo of fuel, which came from Sellafield originally,has been sent back from Takahama in Japan after safety records at the plant operated by BNFL were exposed as false in 1999 .

BNFL called on the protestors to ensure that the flotilla did not endanger the ships' journeys.

But Greenpeace campaigners said they do not plan to interfere with the vessels' safe navigation.

Shaun Burnie from Greenpeace said: "We don't need BNFL to tell us how safe our protests are.

"Greenpeace has been protesting for 30 years peacefully.

"It's governments and industry that attack Greenpeace."

The ships will need a high tide in order to reach the port of Barrow in Cumbria, but BNFL is not giving any details of their itinerary for security reasons.

However protestors have estimated that the ships will reach Barrow on either Monday or Tuesday.
Nuclear fuel container being lifted
Container flasks like this carry nuclear fuel

Greenpeace claims the ships are carrying enough plutonium waste to make 50 nuclear bombs, which make them a potential target for terrorists.

BNFL denies this claim, insisting its cargo includes low-grade plutonium which would be of no use to terrorists.

Ships tracked

On Tuesday, Greenpeace confirmed the location of the two plutonium ships, the Pacific Pintail and Teal, off the west coast of Madeira, in international waters.

The vessels have already faced protests by a 50-strong flotilla in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand after setting out from Japan on 4 July.

Greenpeace said the protest was largely a symbolic one, and that it never expected the ships to stop.

Mixed-oxide fuel is made by reprocessing spent uranium fuel rods from nuclear plants.

The Sellafield plant separates the rods' plutonium radioactive waste from the remaining unused uranium.

Recycled uranium and plutonium is made into ceramic pellets which can be used again in a nuclear power plant.

BNFL said one fingernail-sized pellet could generate as much energy as a ton of coal.

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Irish pop star Jim Corr
"I think it's absolute madness to be transporting nuclear materials on our seas."

Where I Live, South West Wales
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