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Nuclear protest grows in strength as f lotilla gets ready for ambush.

Byline: Hywel Trewyn

MORE vessels were joining Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior anchored off Holyhead last night to ambush shipments of plutonium on their way from Japan.

The legendary Rainbow Warrior had sailed from Dublin on Thursday to rendezvous with other protest vessels off Holyhead.

The flotilla, calling itself the Nuclear Free Irish Sea Flotilla, intends to halt two BNFLchartered vessels en route to Sellafield from Japan.

Last night, 10 vessels had joined the flotilla and another 10 were on their way.

One Rainbow Warrior crewmen, American Andrew Davies, said: ``We are in great shape. A bunch of our friends from the flotilla had breakfast with us and a brainstorming session.''

Asked when did they expect to see the ships carrying the nuclear cargo, he said: ``Some time. I'm not too sure. I don't know exactly. We're looking at a number of different ways to find out.''

Later yesterday, Greenpeace spokesman Shaun Beurne said the two BNFLchartered vessels, Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, were carrying more than 200 kilos of mixed oxide nuclear fuel, and were situated around 600700 miles south west of the Irish Sea, towards the Bay of Biscay.

The cargo had been sent back from Takahama in Japan after safety records at Sellafield, which is operated by BNFL, were exposed as false in 1999.

By this morning, he estimated that they would be around a 150 miles further north - 1,000 miles from Holyhead.

He said: ``It's looking like they will be off the coast of South Wales around Sunday daytime and arrive off Holyhead late Sunday - that is if it is to heading towards Sellafield. They could also go around Ireland to Scotland and miss Wales.''

He said that, if that happened, then Greenpeace would have won the battle adding: ``You can't stop it. It should never have happened in the first place when it left Sellafield in 1999 and started on its return journey from Japan in 2002.''

Mr Beurne said that their action was being supported by politicians across the Irish Sea.

The nuclear ships are being protected by armed antiterrorist police who are on board and by the time it gets nearer to the UK is expected to get added protection from Royal Navy warships.

``That is courtesy of the taxpayer - never mind the pounds 110m it has cost to cover transportation to Japan and back.''

He added that it was expected that the nuclear cargo would choose the Irish Sea route and it would be sailing very close to the Welsh coast.

He said: ``When it first left Barrow-in-Furness in 1999, it was within eight to nine miles of the English coast, especially around Land's End.

``It's not a good thing when you think it's bomb material.''

He added: ``A lot of us have never taken part in this kind of action before. I was talking to a retired government civil servant. This is not only Greenpeace taking on the nuclear industry but also normal people doing what they are believing in.''

CAPTION(S):

QUIET BEFORE THE STORM: Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior waits in Holyhead harbour, where it was joined yesterday by other vessels intent on ambushing a nuclear shipment on its way to Cumbria from Japan Picture: RICHARD WILLIAMS
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Sep 14, 2002
Words:538
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