Government Buries Public Comment on Nuclear Dump

January 23, 2003

The Federal Government is set to override state governments to transport and dispose nuclear waste from the troubled nuclear reactor in Sydney. Science Minister Peter McGauran today released the final Environmental Impact Statement for the National Radioactive Waste Repository. National environment group Friends of the Earth said the move is ill conceived and ignores significant community and South Australian government opposition.

"The Federal Government knows that without somewhere to dump radioactive waste, Sydney's new nuclear reactor is on shaky ground", said Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Bruce Thompson. "The plan is a crude attempt to solve a complex problem".

The government needs a waste disposal plan to facilitate the construction of a new nuclear reactor at the Lucas Heights facility in suburban Sydney. Over 75% of radioactive waste each year for the next 40 years would come from a new reactor. The existing reactor, to be switched off in 2005 would also be dismantled and dumped at the proposed site near Woomera in South Australia.

The plan put forward involves 1700km road transportation of hazardous radioactive waste through NSW and SA population centres and agricultural land. This would mean 130 trucks of waste in the first year passing through rural communities with waste transport continuing for another 40 years.

"Any movement of radioactive waste would place significant demands on the planning, resources and response capacity of regional emergency services," said FoE campaigner, Loretta OíBrien. "The transportation and dumping of nuclear waste presents a real risk of radioactive exposure to people, agricultural land and the broader environment.î

The people of South Australia and communities along potential transportation routes have strongly and consistently rejected Federal Government plans for location of the waste dump in South Australia. Aboriginal communities in the region have consistently opposed their land being used as a dumping ground. In response the SA government is moving to legislate against the project.

"This is an emerging issue in the coming New South Wales state election," said FoE's national nuclear campaigner Bruce Thompson. "The Federal governmentís plan for Australiaís nuclear waste is a crude attempt to solve a complex problem. Canberra is failing and the NSW Government must now listen to the concerns of the regional community and take action to end this radioactive threat.î

ìThe Carr government must now act to protect the interests of NSW in line with the stand taken in South Australiaî said Mr Thompson.

For further comment:

Bruce Thompson
National Nuclear Campaigner
Mob: 0417 318 368

Loretta OíBrien
Nuclear Freeways Co-ordinator
Mob: 0418 178 053