Response To Uranium Industry Framework Report

November 13, 2006

Federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane will this afternoon release the report of the Uranium Industry Framework Steering Group, which will include numerous recommendations to expand Australia's uranium mining industry.

The UIF Steering Group is chaired by Dr. John White from the controversial Nuclear Fuel Leasing Group (NFLG), a consortium which wants to import high-level nuclear waste and to dump it in Australia. See the NFLG submission at: www.pmc.gov.au/umpner/submissions.cfm and the article by journalist Julie Macken at www.newmatilda.com ;.

Some facts which will not be included in the Uranium Industry Framework report:

* A 1999 survey found that 85% of Australians want the federal parliament to pass legislation banning the import of foreign nuclear waste into Australia (Insight Research Australia). Not only has the Howard government refused to enact such legislation, but all Coalition Senators opposed a May 2006 Senate motion opposing the import of nuclear waste.

* A May 2006 Newspoll of 1200 Australians found that 66% are opposed to new uranium mines.

* An International Atomic Energy Agency survey of 1000 Australians in 2005 found that 56% think the IAEA's safeguards system is ineffective. Dr Mohamed El Baradei, the Director-General of the IAEA, describes the safeguards system as "fairly limited", subject to "vulnerabilities" and operating on a "shoestring budget ... comparable to a local police department". Australia's uranium has produced 86 tonnes of plutonium in power reactors around the world, enough for about 8,600 nuclear weapons, yet we are entirely reliant on the flawed and underfunded safeguards system of the IAEA to prevent the misuse of that plutonium.

Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "Last year, uranium accounted for one third of 1% of Australia's export income. Wine and medicines each accounted for five times as much export revenue. We can export wine and medicines with a clear conscience but the same cannot be said for exports of WMD feedstock in the form of uranium. The best-case scenario is that uranium will end up as high-level nuclear waste and lead to a growing push to dump the waste in Australia since there is no permanent repository for high-level waste anywhere in the world. The alternative scenario is that Australian uranium finds its way into nuclear weapons - the most destructive weapons ever devised."

David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Foundation said: "Far from 'harmonising' the regulation of the uranium mining industry, as Ian Macfarlane claims, the Uranium Industry Framework report will promote self-regulation and fast-tracking the imposition of expanded uranium mining and exports."

Contact:

Dr Jim Green - Friends of the Earth - 0417 318 368

David Noonan - Australian Conservation Foundation - 04088 21058

Donna Jackson - Larrakia Nation (Northern Territory) - 0427 847 186