Nuclear fallout: leaders urged to rule out uranium mining in Queensland

September 1, 2006

Uranium mining is unnecessary, unsafe and unpopular and has no place in Queensland according to a broad group of community representatives who have today called on all parties to rule out uranium mining ahead of the state election.

“Uranium mining is a contaminating and controversial industry,” said Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation. “It causes damage and risk wherever it occurs and has clear links with the production of nuclear waste and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There is no place for this toxic trade in Queensland.”

Ronan Lee, ALP member for Indooroopilly said: “We should keep uranium in the ground where it belongs. We have always been against uranium mining in Queensland and we should be forthright in maintaining this position”.

The no mining call – made by representatives of the public health, scientific, political, arts and environment sectors – comes as the federal government and industry supporters press to overturn the current uranium mining ban in Queensland.

There is strong community concern about uranium and nuclear issues with a recent Newspoll (May 2006) showing 66% of all voters and 78% of ALP voters opposed to any expansion of uranium mining. The groups have urged all political parties to emphatically rule out support for new uranium mines in Queensland.

Key concerns with uranium mining include:

· Site specific environmental damage and water contamination

· Production of large volumes of long lived radioactive mine wastes (tailings)

· Worker and community health impacts

· All Australian uranium becomes nuclear waste – and mines mean more pressure to take back radioactive waste

· More uranium means more radioactive material in circulation with a greater chance of nuclear accidents or terrorist ‘dirty bombs’

· We cannot guarantee Australian uranium will not end up in nuclear weapons

“Many politicians tend to think in the short term, in this case the next election cycle, but radioactive waste will be a direct threat to the Queensland community and environment for thousands of years,” said Virginia Young, Acting National Campaign Director from the Wilderness Society.

“Many Queenslanders oppose uranium mining and the nuclear cycle. It is time for Mr Beattie and Mr Springborg to stop ducking the issue and clearly outline their positions on uranium mining in Queensland,” said author and theologian Paul Collins

“Uranium mining threatens Australia’s natural heritage including treasures such as Kakadu, the Lake Eyre Basin and Queensland’s Gulf Country,” said Robin Taubenfeld from Friends of the Earth (Brisbane).

“No politician has a mandate to waste our future. Ruling out uranium mining is an important step towards building a clean and sustainable future,” said Dr Rachel Darken from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

The groups also welcomed the release of a statement on uranium mining in Queensland by a group of leading Australian scientists and energy experts.