The armed Barrow-based ships Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret have returned home this week after transporting 331 kgs of plutonium and a quantity of highly enriched uranium from Japan to the US port of Charleston. As part of the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) initiative to reduce the threat from nuclear weapns-useable materials, the cargo is described as ‘posing a threat to national security, being susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device and preventing a high risk of theft or diversion’. Originally sailing from Barrow-in-Furness in mid-January, the nuclear materials were loaded onto the Pacific Egret at Japan’s Tokai Mura port in mid-March and, with the Pacific Heron as escort, unloaded at Charleston in early June – some 3 weeks later than projected. Despite official attempts to keep the contentious shipment ‘under the radar’, the ships’ movements were nevertheless tracked by CORE, South Carolina’s Savannah River Site Watch (SRSW) and observer groups in Japan.
CORE 21st June 2016 read more »