Reactor still provokes community outrage

December 8, 2005

Reactor still provokes community outrage  

Sydney, Thursday December 8, 2005

Community and environment groups continue their opposition at today’s hearing into the granting of an Operating Licence for a second nuclear reactor in Sydney, with a display of 8000 handprints from people around the country who want a Nuclear-free Australia.

“A nuclear reactor is the wrong technology in the wrong place,” said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner James Courtney. “The terrorist risk makes the prospect of building a nuclear reactor in Australia’s most populous city even more hazardous than when Greenpeace showed how vulnerable reactor security was back in 2001.”

In repeated surveys more than 70% of Australians have said they don’t want another reactor in Sydney – the last national survey commissioned by Greenpeace showed that up to 80% of people were especially opposed while there is no solution to the radioactive waste problem.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has approved each stage of the reactor construction, despite promising that a solid plan must be in place to deal with nuclear waste before the reactor can be built.

"Construction began on this reactor with assurances that a waste management plan must be firmly in place before the operational licence would be granted. However there is still no agreement on how to manage the existing waste stockpile and we should not be producing more now,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney

“Yesterday the federal government used its slender Senate majority to push through heavy handed laws to try and impose a waste dump on the Northern Territory and radioactive waste management in Australia remains deeply contested," said Sweeney.

Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth says a nuclear reactor is not necessary for medical purposes:

"The claim that a reactor is required for medical isotope production is false. There has been no evidence of disrupted isotope supply during lengthy closures of the existing reactor for maintenance. Most countries - including advanced industrial countries such as the USA, the UK and Japan - rely on cyclotrons and imported isotopes for all or almost all of their medical supplies."

Representatives from community group, People Against a Nuclear Reactor (PANR) say there are many unresolved issues that are of vital concern to the local Sutherland Shire community:

“The public has been denied access to information on the consequences analysis of a terrorist attack on Lucas Heights; there is no coherent means of government compensation (insurance) to local residents following an accident, and local residents will not be protected by a minimal emergency evacuation zone of just 3km,” said PANR representative Genevieve Kelly. “Until these issues are acted on in the interest of public safety ARPANSA must deny an operating licence for the new reactor. We look for brave action on the part of its CEO, Dr Loy, not to bow to the forces of government."

Contacts:
James Courtney, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaigner 0418 927 821
Genevieve Kelly (formerly Rankin) PANR 0404 086 650
Dr Jim Green, FoE Nuclear Campaigner 0417 318 368
Dave Sweeney, ACF Nuclear Campaigner 0408 317 812