Time for a wide-ranging review into Australia’s nuclear activities

Lucas-09Nuclear waste: Review needed before permanent disposal site, say environmentalists,SMH  , Legal affairs, health and science reporter November 13, 2015
“……Environmentalists fear that a permanent site would pave the way for the nuclear waste of other countries to be stored in Australia, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month remarking that Australia could expand its nuclear industry, including leasing local uranium overseas.

Dave Sweeney, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s national nuclear campaigner, said on Friday: “There is no public health or radiological imperative to rush the movement of material.”

He said there should be a wide-ranging public review into how, where, and why we produce nuclear material, with clear policies “best worked through when you’re not searching for a postcode”.

Mr Sweeney, a member of the government’s independent advisory panel on nuclear waste, insisted this was “not a stalling tactic”. Environmental groups were prepared to approach a review in good faith, he said: “We genuinely believe that getting a lasting, scientifically responsible solution that enjoys a high level of community consent is through an open review process, with a full range of management options.”

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) existing facility in Lucas Heights in Sydney, was the “least worst” option for storing waste until a national independent review was completed, he said, with federal police and people with nuclear expertise already based there.

The site held most of Australia’s more-radioactive waste, and now included a national facility for extended interim storage, he said. It would also hold nuclear waste which is due to return to Australia next month, after being sent to France between 1996 and 2009.

Mr Sweeney was concerned that a permanent site could become a “Trojan horse” for starting international uranium trade deals.

Beyond Nuclear co-ordinator Nat Wasley agreed the search should be halted ahead of a national review into nuclear production and management, including whether a single remote facility was the best place to hold nuclear waste.

“Rather than pick remote sites, we want the process to be paused…[and a review held with a] range of experts on an extensively complicated subject.”

Asked on Friday why Lucas Heights could not be expanded to store more waste, Mr Frydenberg said this would not reflect “best practice”.

ANSTO chief executive, Dr Adrian Paterson, said that while the facility could hold waste temporarily, it could not become a long term storage site under current laws.

“We’re a responsible manager of waste but we are not a long-term repository for waste,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg has said that Australia could not take other countries’ waste under current law, but would not rule out doing so in future, saying the federal government would await the findings of an ongoing South Australian royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle. The government’s priority was to find a dump site.

He acknowledged that governments had failed for years to find a site because they had “chosen unilaterally” rather than consulted with the community. …….

Bathurst state MP Paul Toole said he was calling on the federal government to provide greater detail, as the community has a lot of questions, such as what the proposed transport routes would be and what protections would be in place. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nuclear-waste-review-needed-before-permanent-disposal-site-says-environmentalists-20151113-gkyoog.html#ixzz3rOyFUjNZ



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