Nuclear Nightmare: Call to halt Sydney Reactor

November 10, 2003

Leading environment groups have joined southern Sydney residents to call for an urgent halt to construction works at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor following a report in today's Australian newspaper that the site may have been targeted by terrorists.

The Australian report has detailed that ASIO "discussed at length" the new threat to the reactor at a secret hearing held last week in Sydney into French terror suspect Willie Brigitte.

Environment groups and locals have called for an immediate suspension of all construction and development works at the controversial project pending an independent review into serious siting and safety concerns.

"Building a new nuclear reactor in the suburbs of our largest city makes no sense," said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner James Courtney. "A new reactor and continuing secretive research into laser uranium enrichment will not go unnoticed by terror groups. It means more risks, more threats, more waste and more uncertainty."

The new reactor was approved by the Federal Government before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA and ahead of any detailed environmental or siting studies.

The reactor poses the single greatest radiological threat to the largest number of Australians.

"The key assumptions of this plan are wrong and outdated," said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney. "A new reactor is not needed to ensure Australians have access to nuclear medicine and this is the wrong technology in the wrong place. Construction must stop and this plan be revisited and independently reviewed."

The reactor project has been the focus of sustained criticism because of serious construction errors, secrecy, inadequate emergency plans and the absence of a proven plan to deal with radioactive waste.

"Some key radioactive waste issues are now the subject of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry that is due to report next month", said Friends of the Earth campaigner Loretta O¹Brien. "There is no clear plan and no community consent over managing these wastes and the security, environmental and community concerns are growing."

"We live with the risks but are being kept in the dark," said Michael Priceman, local resident and convenor of the resident action group People Against a Nuclear Reactor.

"The Federal Government and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation broadcast assurances but keep secret the key documents examining the risks, costs and consequences of this unpopular plan. We locals have a right to know and the Federal Government has a responsibility to act."

Contacts and comment:

Loretta O¹Brien
Friends of the Earth
Ph: (03) 9419 8700

James Courtney,
Greenpeace Nuclear campaigner
Ph: (02) 9263 0359

Michael Priceman
PANR Convenor
Ph: (02) 9520 3115

Dave Sweeney
Australian Conservation Foundation
Ph: (03) 9345 1130

For further information on the Reaction campaign visit www.reactnow.org