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Lucas Heights hits new lows.

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Senator Lyn Allison Australian Democrats Energy Spokesperson

18 March 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 02/122

Lucas Heights Hits New Lows In yet another blow to the Howard Government, Prosecutors in Argentina have announced they are examining both the agreement to reprocess spent fuel and the contract to construct the new nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.

Democrats’ Energy spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison, said the Prosecutors are questioning both the constitutionality of the reprocessing agreement and the legality of the construction contact.

“An Argentine judge is currently determining whether the construction contract must be handed over by the construction company INVAP and whether the contract conforms to Argentine company law,” said Senator Allison.

“The Prosecutors would not be acting unless they had significant evidence justifying the investigation.

“The Democrats are concerned about the consequences of this for the Australian community.

“If the Argentine connection falls through, Sydney residents need to know that they are likely to get a bit more than they bargained for - a reactor, a reprocessing plant and storage of the waste on site into the foreseeable future.”

Senator Allison said following revelations last week that INVAP is seeking a bailout loan of $10m and that security issues need reconsideration, the arrangements for building the reactor, for reprocessing and for storage are now well and truly up in the air.

“This house of cards is taking another shaking as well from the Nuclear Safety Committee's recommendations released this last weekend,” said Senator Allison.

The Committee has recommended to John Loys, the CEO of ARPANSA, that the reactor licence should not be issued until there is a contingency plan for the reprocessing and disposal of the spent fuel in the event that overseas options are not available.

“The entire proposal is in shambles and the Howard Government's reckless devotion to this project is now coming home to roost,” concluded Senator Allison.

On Tuesday, the Australian Democrats will review materials tabled in the Senate as a result of Senator Stott Despoja’s Return to Order. This new information increases the urgency of the Democrat’s motion.

Further information: John Derry 03 9416 1880 or 0408 056 167