Nuclear waste ship heads south


The secret route of the British vessel Pacific Pintail, which is transporting 14 tons of Japanese-owned nuclear waste from the French port of Cherbourg, took it within 17 miles of Plymouth yesterday, according to the environmental group Greenpeace.

By yesterday afternoon the Greenpeace tug NV Solo had tracked the Pintail to the Isle d'Ouessant, near the French port of Brest, from where it was heading south on the way to Japan.

The ship's operators, Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL), a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels, have refused to disclose details of the Pintail's course during its six- to eight-week journey, despite protests from environmentalists and states along its potential routes.

The government of Chile yesterday followed Argentina and several Caribbean and Pacific countries in barring the ship from its coastal waters, including those around Cape Horn. South African politicians expressed disquiet about another potential route, around the Cape of Good Hope.

"We call upon the governments of Japan, France and Britain to dispel our doubts by removing the secrecy shrouded around this shipment," said Peter Mokaba, chair of the Standing Committee on Environmental Affairs in Cape Town.