Australian Government prepared to change environmental Law to suit nuclear industry – Submission to #NuclearCommissionSAust

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The Australian Government put in a lengthy Submission. For now, I will select just one part – what the Australian government wants, in legislation.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW In a submission that is in its overall theme, favourable to the nuclear industry, Government wants some legislative changes, quietly giving the nod to to changing Australia’s environmental laws that prohibit Australia’s  further involvement in the nuclear fuel chain:

 “Whether or not immediate opportunities exist, the Commonwealth considers that any possibilities that do emerge should not be closed off by governments where they have a demonstrated net benefit, and the risks can be managed effectively. We are working with the States and Territories on improving the regulation of nuclear industries, including by responding to technical developments and streamlining or removing unnecessary regulation.”

“Commonwealth legislation prohibits some of the activities under consideration by the Royal Commission, including construction or operation of nuclear reactors for generating electricity or facilities for enriching uranium, fabricating nuclear fuel or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The Commonwealth Government looks forward to considering the Royal Commission’s report, the response of the South Australian Government and the implications for Commonwealth policy and regulatory framework.”

LIABILITY LAW Secondly, the Government points to the need for laws covering liability in the case of nuclear accidents:

“Nuclear liability The IAEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency have developed an international regime covering compensation for damage from nuclear activities – civil nuclear liability.  Most countries undertaking nuclear activities have developed national legislation consistent with that regime, irrespective of whether they are parties to the relevant international conventions.  

Exceptionally, Australia has no special legislation covering civil nuclear liability. There are significant differences between liability under general law and liability under the international nuclear liability regime, particularly in relation to the responsibility of the facility operators and the standard of proof required.

Further involvement in the fuel cycle would require the adoption of nuclear liability legislation to ensure operators are held liable for incidents and are able to provide adequate compensation, and that claims for compensation for an accident in Australia are dealt with in Australia.”

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