We must embrace a clean energy future

19th July 2002: Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla

Between 2000 and 2002, I was part of a Greenpeace team that mounted a global campaign to stop the transport of mixed oxide (MOX) plutonium based nuclear fuel and radioactive waste across the world, and through the Pacific.

Protests against various transports happened in the UK, France, South America, South Africa, in the Tasman Sea and in Japan. We lobbied the French, UK, Japanese, New Zealand, Argentinian, Chilean and Australian governments to stop these transports. We mounted flotillas to take action against the transports on two British vessels, the Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal. In 2001, 7 small boats sailed from New Zealand and Australia to a spot between Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands to await the ships and to protest, which we ultimately did on the morning of March 6th.

The nuclear fuel on board these ships is exactly the same fuel that is now undertaking a slow meltdown in Fukushima Daiichi reactor #3.

Why did we oppose this transport, and what relevance does it have to today’s tragedy in Japan?

First of all MOX fuel is particularly dangerous, as it contains a nasty cocktail of radioactive substances, including plutonium, which if released either during a transport or reactor accident, can have a major impact on the environment and human health.

Secondly, MOX fuel is manufactured so that the nuclear industry can pretend it has “solved” the problem of nuclear waste – by a process of re-using plutonium in a hybrid fuel. The nuclear industry does this to pretend that it has “solutions” even though there is no solution to the long term management of nuclear waste.

Third, plutonium is the basic raw material for a nuclear weapon. Creating it, and transporting it, increases the possibility for the substance to be used, by governments or terrorists, as a tool of aggression – either in a conventional nuclear weapon or in a dirty bomb.

And finally – MOX is largely untested as a nuclear fuel.

And so we come back to Fukushima

The disaster in Japan, and the meltdowns in reactors 1, 2 and 3, shows clearly the diabolical problems of nuclear. Reactor three has the capacity to release some particularly nasty radio-isotopes. The warnings that Greenpeace made ten years ago are now coming to pass.

The Australian Coalition government at the time said that the transports, and the processes involved were safe – simply to protect, of course, Australia’s interests in its own uranium industry.  The Labor party, in opposition, supported Greenpeace.

The people of Japan are suffering enormously from terrible natural disasters. That they are also suffering from a nuclear crisis is an additional tragedy, and one that Greenpeace did its best to prevent, and is now working had to document and expose.

However, we can still ensure that from this tragedy some change emerges. We can all work to end the nuclear industry and its dangerous practices – we can call for the halt of new reactor construction, the transportation of waste, the mining of uranium and work for a future based on clean, green renewable energy.

For the sake of the planet and humanity we must embrace a clean energy future.

Remembering Chernobyl – standing with Fukushima
Join Us at our candlelight vigil at the Opera House on the 26th April

  • Adam

    So much for green clean energy future based on rational arguments. Check this article out. The stats tell the true story!

    63 killed from Chernobyl by radiation, some explosion related deaths at Fukushima but 0 from radiation (at least so far), but more than 100 people apparently are killed by hydro power/irrigation dam failures each year in the world. Including an irrigation dam which failed during the earthquake.

    Well done to Greanpeace for playing successfully on people’s fears though.


  • Jason Kim

    Some say we should switch over to cleaner fossil fuels to avoid a parade of environmental catastrophes. Defenders of fossil fuels rebut this by saying that alternative energy isn’t ready for prime time yet. The bigger picture is decentralizing power management to deliver a balanced solution to improve our environment.

    Jason Kim

  • Bob Brown

    Why are the Greens opposing Nuclear Power, the second safest energy source in the world, while supporting wind power? Wind Power is a vile and dangerous power source that slaughters birds and hurts our poor farmers health. Isn’t this slightly hypocritical?

  • Consider reading “This changes everything” by Naomi Klein, in this brilliant book is explained how ISDS clauses found in free trade agreements such as TPP is used to prevent governments from subsidizing renewable energies.

    The same clause was used to reverse a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Canada in the well known 250 Million dollar lawsuit of Lone Pine resources vs Canada.

    No matter who is in government, we do not truly live in a democracy, Just like the US, even AU politics consist of a Duo-Poly, perhaps even worse.

    The foolhardy will claim that everything will be alright provided that their side of the proverbial Duo-Poly is elected — History indicates otherwise.

    Nothing ever changes by continuing the Duo-Poly — That would be like the epitome of insanity — Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result — The problem is that the political system stays exactly the same, like in the US, people are clamoring feel the Bern feel the Bern, reality is that they’ll only be burned by BS.


    Government is only ever legitimate when this is run by and for the people. No matter which of these candidates enter office — The entire system will be turned against us and anyone who tries to use the office, and yet, its clear to see that the interests of the people are not the number one priority that they ought to be, investor rights have been allowed to trump that of the electorate.

    How many times must the Duo-Poly betray us before all of us wake up and realize this?

    The Greens are not particularly inspiring bunch either, their antics only ensured Labor lost the 2013 election — Who pulled the strings behind that one, or is it obvious ?

    Anyway, as it turned out — Everything thats happened has only been a real boon for Neo-Cons — Here is the thing… Labor did not do ALL that it could to cancel TPP negotiations, and whatever else was on the table, Abbott/LNP has agreed to sign quite a few more.

    But just like Howard government before them, Labor announced that they would not agree to ISDS provisions, however who could have known that they would not be around to finalize this most treasonous of FTA? — More and more that I learn about this deal has me wondering why they did not simply cancel participating with these negotiations — Course, being in government is a stepping stone into the lucrative corporate world.

    Solutions, solutions, nothing short of cancelling all agreements that include ISDS provisions, being in charge your own sovereignty is what makes the nation, lost control over a nations sovereignty only weakens her.

    Why does AU continue feeding the war machine when this sheer waste of taxpayers resources is better spend on improving much needed infrastructure projects, chances are that she has already lost much of her sovereignty.

    What’s needed is an entirely new economic system, one not ruled by the interest of the Neo-Cons, the Petrol dollar plus perpetual economic growth for the transnational corporations, a fallacious concept.

    Perpetual economic growth is simply not possible on a planet with limited resources, as this comes at a price which is paid for with a loss of civil and humanitarian rights as well harming the environment, fracking is happening pretty much everywhere plus drilling for oil in arctic regions at a time when we need to be fully focused on renewable energies.

    We have no need for FTA’s and their sovereignty shredding ISDS provisions, those very provisions have already been used a number of years ago in order to challenge governments that were subsidising renewable energy projects, the argument used was that these subsidies were considered ”protectionist” — Course the irony is that FTA’s are all about protectionism, for the financial elite in turn represented by the transnational corporations.


    What we need is an entirely new system –The best alternative I’ve seen so far is called Ecosocialism

    The current path is a dead end, more about this matter in — Sleepwalking to Extinction