Vancouver is Not a Nuclear Free Zone: Story of the MCP Altona…

MCS Altona Anchored off the coast of North Vancouver

One of the more interesting under-reported stories that happened in Vancouver this year was the story of the MCP Altona. The ship left Vancouver on December 23, 2010 carrying a shipment of 350 tonnes of Uranium Concentrate- more commonly known as ‘yellowcake’. I was shocked when I heard this- thought Vancouver was a nuclear free zone? I’ve been following this story since March- it appears it was only finally resolved last week.

On January 3rd, 2011 the ship was half-way between Hawaii and the Midway Islands when the crew noticed that containers (loaded with yellowcake) had shifted in rough seas, the doors had opened, and two drums spilled out an opened in the ship’s hold. The ship had initially planned to return to Hawaii, but the US authorities refused. So, the ship turned-around and came back to Vancouver for clean-up.

The ship arrived back at the Port of Vancouver for cleanup on January 20th. I then took until March 22nd to complete the clean-up, and the containers were then shipped back to Saskatchewan to the company that owned them- Cameco. The ship was then anchored near Dollarton (North Vancouver) and sat there until last week when it was sold last week to an Indonesian company- it has been renamed “Meratus Palembang”, and has been docked a few meters from Harborview park in North Vancouver.

There wasn’t much coverage of this story in the mainstream media- but I did see a story on Global last week. That said, they missed-out on the renaming of the ship- tricky…

But, not a single story in the media questioned why a ship with 100’s of tonnes of Uranium was in the “Nuclear Free Zone” of Vancouver! Disappointing really- because, had they covered the story properly, it would have been a sensation. Wait, why wouldn’t they want a sensation? Is there something more to the story?

I’ll continue to research, and will keep you updated when I find more information. Until then, if you have any info to share, please let me know!

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7 responses to “Vancouver is Not a Nuclear Free Zone: Story of the MCP Altona…

  1. Actually Vancouver has never been a truly nuclear free zone, if you take into account the number of times American war ships have been in the harbour.

  2. “Nuclear free” only extends to nuclear weapons and nuclear power and presumably fissionable materials. Yellowcake isn’t in that category.

  3. After all, we mine uranium here in BC. If we were nuclear free, we would have to shun BC itself.

  4. Hey People.The port is under federal jurisdiction, That is how they can still call themselves Nuclear free in Vancouver. We know a nuclear powered cruiser can dock at Ballyntine Pier and be loaded with new provisions and the crew take a short leave. It happens all the time.Just a play on words.The Port authority has it,s own police and controls all waters in the Port to the high water mark .

  5. Terry, This is true, but the uranium must have got to the port somehow- most likely on a train. All of the train lines go through the City of Vancouver…