Environemtal group Greenpeace is confident that the Balearics is to become a nuclear free zone after the Balearic government announced its intention to lobby central government to introduce emergency plans around visits of nuclear powered or armed warships to the region. The local left wing coalition government has been on the warpath over visits by nuclear powered warships since the USS Washington made a port of call to Palma last November. Greenpeace activists blocked the warship's path into the bay of Palma and protests against the aircraft carrier's presence was also backed by local politicians including the leader of the Balearic government, Francesc Antich. While the local authorities still wait for the results of radiation tests carried out in the Bay by Spanish navy experts during the ship's visit, the Balearic government now wants central government to authorise full emergency and civil protection operations to be mounted for future visits. Greenpeace yesterday congratulated the Balearic government for its initiative, saying that it is an important step towards the Balearics being declared a nuclear free zone. If the Balearics should become a nuclear free zone, it will mean the end of further visits by nuclear powered or armed ships and submarines. According to Greenpeace, fuelled by the controversy over the crippled Royal Navy submarine Tireless in Gibraltar, the number of accidents and catastrophes involving nuclear warships is very high and that many of the problems have arisen while the vessels have been in ports. The Spanish branch of the environmental group, which has its headquarters in Palma, also said yesterday that it is trying to push the Spanish government into bringing up the matter with the United States. During the two countries' next round of talks, it wants Spain to express its wish of no longer permitting visits from nuclear powered warships. As far as Greenpeace is concerned, nuclear powered ships should not be allowed into any Spanish port, simply for reasons of safety for the local population, the environmental group's anti-nuclear spokesperson Carlos Bravo said yesterday.
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