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Thursday, February 29, 1996

CONTACT: Sharon Tanzer 202-822-8444
Paul Leventhal in London: 44-171-793-1010, March 2-6


WASHINGTON---Studies raising unresolved safety problems with sea shipments of plutonium and radioactive waste and analyzing the legal rights of coastal states to protection against them will be presented at a special meeting of the International Maritime Organization in London beginning Monday, March 4.

Dr. Edwin Lyman, scientific director of the Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute, will lay out the problems and recommend that the IMO strengthen its Code of Practice for ships with radioactive cargoes. He will propose upgrading the code to require more stringent safety measures for the ships to compensate for weaknesses in the packaging of radioactive waste, plutonium and spent fuel. He will propose that the present voluntary code be strengthened and made mandatory by establishing a system of reviews and inspections to help ensure there will be no major radioactive releases in the event of a severe accident.

Professor Jon Van Dyke, an expert on international environmental and maritime law at the University of Hawaii Law School, will present a study he prepared for the Nuclear Control Institute showing that shippers of ultrahazardous cargoes do not enjoy the right to unimpeded freedom of navigation and that a more restrictive regime is needed for notification and consultation of coastal states by shippers of radioactive materials.

Dr. Lyman and Professor Van Dyke, as well as Paul Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute, will participate in the IMO special meeting as members of the Greenpeace International delegation.

A year ago, a shipment of highly radioactive waste from France to Japan raised an international outcry as did a shipment of nearly two tons of plutonium from France to Japan in 1992. Dozens of en-route nations protested both shipments and also voiced concerns about future shipments at last year's conference to extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Greenpeace Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 8, 1996


LONDON, March 7, A special International Maritime Organization (IMO) experts meeting closed last night with a declaration by 13 coastal nations demanding strict, mandatory controls on nuclear transports at sea. Greenpeace hailed the development as a major step towards ending dangerous transports of plutonium and nuclear waste.

"Plutonium trading countries such as Japan, France and Britain can no longer hope to make their nuclear transports in secrecy and without necessary safety measures," said Damon Moglen of Greenpeace.

"Coastal nations are no longer willing to be innocent bystanders; they have heard the facts and been advised of their legal rights, and they are now demanding mandatory international controls on these shipments," said Nuclear Control Institute's Paul Leventhal who served on the GP delegation.

The dramatic declaration came at the end of a three day (March 4-6) Special Consultants Meeting on nuclear transports at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. Key funding for the meeting came from the French and British governments--the primary transporters of irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium and nuclear waste.

While Japanese, French and British government and industry presentations sought to allay fears about their controversial and secretive nuclear transports, the representatives of enroute states were not convinced.

The enroute nation declaration was presented by the Argentine delegation on behalf of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Indonesia, Ireland, Solomon Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela. The declaration called for action in response to a number of basic enroute nations "concerns" including lack of information, consultation and notification. The declaration calls for a "full code" to cover all corrective measures discussed at the meeting. They demanded a "binding instrument" to replace the IMO's current permissive, voluntary Code.

The Meeting's Chairman, G.A. Dubbeld of the Netherlands, listed 11 specific safety and legal issues that the meeting had identified as needing further action by IMO committees and subcommittees. These include: prior notification and consultation on emergency-response requirements, preparation of environmental impact assessments by the transporting nations, adequacy of the packaging and ships used by the transporters, and liability requirements for nuclear transports.

IMO Secretary General W.A. O'Neill closed the meeting by saying that he was "sure that action would be taken by various elements of the IMO."

At the meeting, Greenpeace delegates Edwin Lyman of the Nuclear Control Institute and John Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Law School presented studies on unresolved safety and legal problems.

For More Information:

Damon Moglen, Greenpeace Paris: +33-1-4770-1605
Blair Palese, Greenpeace Communications: +44-171-833-0600.
Sharon Tanzer, Nuclear Control Institute: ++1-202-822-8444

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