Red Light Needed for Sydney Nuclear Reactor Plant

Thursday April 4, 2002

A coalition of key environment groups has called on the head of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to not issue a construction license for a controversial second nuclear reactor in suburban Sydney.

The call follows a report in today's Sydney Morning Herald that the federal nuclear regulator is expected tomorrow to approve plans by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Agentinean nuclear company INVAP to build a nuclear reactor at ANSTO's Lucas Heights site in southern Sydney.

"There can be no confidence in this project or in any decision to approve it," said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Stephen Campbell. "The reactor plan is flawed and fundamental problems have simply not been addressed by it's backers. The regulator should not give any approval to this project until these concerns are resolved."

Key unresolved issues surrounding the nuclear reactor plan include:

· The lack of any clear and definite means of managing radioactive waste from the planned reactor. This was highlighted recently by an expert advisory group report which recommended that construction license not be issued until ANSTO had a "workable contingency plan for the management of wastes".

· The lack of key safety and security assessments and analysis following the September 11 attacks and the subsequent international acknowledgment of the hazards of all nuclear facilities.

· The financial viability of the Argentinean nuclear group INVAP given the current economic crisis in Argentina. INVAP have recently applied for emergency financial assistance from the bankrupt Argentine federal Government

· Legal and political obstacles facing ANSTO's proposed international radioactive waste management options in both France and Argentina along with the lack of any credible domestic radioactive waste management option. This has increased since the newly elected South Australian Government has clearly stated its opposition to national radioactive waste dumps in that state.

· Unresolved issues concerning "worst case accident" and subsequent health impacts on human health. Granting any construction licence would be inconsistent with this aim.

· No proven need for the reactor or examination of cleaner and more cost-effective means of radio-isotope production.

· No information tabled on the rationale for siting a major and hazardous industrial facility in a suburban residential growth corridor of our largest city or on why the Federal Government deems this project to be in the "National Interest".

The reactor plan has been the subject of detailed criticism from Senate Inquiries, state, national and international environment groups, local residents, the Sutherland Shire Council and the Australian Local Government Association. Any approval of a construction license will see community protest action escalate.

For further information and critical assessment of the reactor project visit


Erin Farley, Greenpeace Media Officer
02 9263 0314
0404 864 593

James Courtney,
Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner
02 9263 0359
0418 927 821

Dave Sweeney,
ACF Nuclear Campaigner
03 9926 6708
0408 317 812

Michael Priceman,
PANR Convenor
02 9520 3115

Bruce Thompson,
FOE Nuclear Campaigner
03 9419 8700
0417 318 368