According to news sources, a shipment of MOX fuel will leave the Sellafield Nuclear Facility in the UK, for France. The shipment is due for arrival on Wednesday the 22nd of November.
The vessel, in direct contravention of accepted international practice, is a single-hulled, single-engine type, is unarmed and, according to these reports, will not be escorted.
The Irish Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche has stated he has been given assurances that the ship will not pass through the Irish Sea. However, how the Irish Government will ascertain this is unclear, as the Naval Service will not be monitoring the shipment, and according to their Press Office, have not been contacted about it.
There are numerous concerns about this shipment:
* The vessel will be travelling alone rather than with another transport vessel, as is standard practice.
* The ship is unarmed and unescorted.
* It appears that there will be no UK naval presence.
* There will be no Irish naval presence, to ensure that the vessel does not enter Irish waters.
* The vessel itself, the Atlantic Osprey, caught fire during its maiden voyage on 25 March 2002. The crew were unable to deal with the situation by themselves and had to call for assistance.
* Concerns have already been raised about the means of transportation of radioactive waste in Europe, with specific reference to this vessel.
* There is no agreement between Ireland and Britain concerning the shipment of nuclear waste material through the Irish Sea.
* A Minister of the Isle of Man Government specifically sought assurances from the UK Government with regard to the safety of this vessel.
* There are no response procedures in place should an emergency arise regarding this vessel.