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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3224

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 15 April 1980:

(   1 ) Did the Prime Minister, when tabling in the House the report Nuclear powered warships- Visits to AustraliaEnvironment considerations- Report, dated May 1976 on 4 June 1976 state that, in relation to such visits, appropriate arrangements concerning environmental safeguards would be applied in consultation with State Governments by a group of officials led by officials of the then Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and that such arrangements would be undertaken as necessary, before visits took place (Hansard, page 3040 ).

(2)   Did the report recommend that general conditions to be applied to these visits should be that (a) visits were for crew rest and recreation, and not for fuel handling or repairs to reactor plant necessitating breach of reactor containment,

(b)   visits were subject to arrangements concerning liability and indemnity and to assurances comparable with those given in the United States of America standard statement,

(c)   movement of vessels would have to take place during daylight hours under conditions where visibility was not less than three quarters of a mile, (d) navigational controls on other shipping would be applied during the time that nuclear powered ships were entering or leaving port, (e) there would have to be a capability to move the vessel to a remote anchorage within 24 hours if an accident should occur, (f) tugs would have to be available within one hour of request, and (g) a safety organisations meeting specified requirements would have to exist in the port being visited.

(3)   Have recommendations referred to in part (2) (a) to (f) been implemented in each case of a visit by a nuclear powered warship to 31 March 1980; if so, (a) is it proposed that their implementation will continue for all future visits, and (b) when did action to have them implemented commence.

(4)   Has the recommendation referred to in part (2) (g) been implemented fully; if so, when was implementation commenced; if not, in what respect, and at what ports, has its implementation been incomplete.

(5)   Did the report also state that the acceptance of nuclear warships under the proposed conditions should be limited to those with reactor power levels less than 100 MW (thermal) and that the acceptance of vessels with larger reactor units would need to be assessed separately in the light of available technical information of guarantees on their safety.

(6)   Is the general restriction on the acceptance of warships to those with reactor power systems less than 100 MW (thermal) still in force; if not, (a) for what reasons, (b) under what circumstances, (c) and in which instances has this restriction been lifted.

Mr Thomson - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) Yes.

(3)   Yes, although with regard to (f), RAN or RAN contracted vessels have been or will be on stand-by in the ports concerned to meet the requirement for towing facilities.

(a)   The Government continues to regard the conditions stated in the report tabled in June 1976 as being those under which short visits to Australian ports by nuclear powered warships can occur.

(b)   Action to implement the general conditions of visits has been completed prior to each visit.

(4)   Yes. A radiation monitoring organisation and a safety organisation were established in co-operation with State Authorities prior to the first visit to each port and has been re-activated for all subsequent visits.

(5)   and (6) Yes.

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