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The Japanese nuclear accident: could it happen? New nuclear reactor needs to be rethought.



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Media Release

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Deputy Leader Australian Democrats

Science and Technology Spokesperson

 

October 1,1999

 

99/516

 

The Japanese nuclear accident:

Could it happen here?

New nuclear reactor needs to be rethought

 

In light of the tragic consequences of the nuclear accident in Japan, the Australian Democrats have reiterated their grave concerns about Australia’s ongoing involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

 

“Only a couple of years ago, the current Government believed that Australia should be involved in the reprocessing of nuclear waste. There are significant similarities between the processing of nuclear fuels which was occurring at Tokaimura and the reprocessing of nuclear waste,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

 

“The Government has repeatedly tried to leave open a door for Australia to be involved in this type of activity. During the passage of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act, the Government vigorously opposed amendments intended to prevent the reprocessing of nuclear waste m Australia. If current plans to ship our spent fuel rods to France fall apart like the previous contract with Britain, there will be renewed Government pressure to undertake reprocessing in Australia.

 

“This accident is a clear demonstration of the awesome dangers inherent in nuclear operations. To suggest, as many have done, that this is necessarily indicative of low safety standards in Japan is premature and offensive. We have no reason to believe that safety standards are any higher in Australia or other parts of the world, except for the word of organisations intimately involved in nuclear activities.

 

“The Government has argued on many occasions that we need a new nuclear reactor to continue our involvement in international forums on nuclear safety. In fact we are involved in regional agreements and processes with Japan which apparently have little effect. I am hoping that we won’t see this argument used as an attempt to benefit from this Japanese tragedy.

 

“The Australian Democrats are firmly opposed to any further involvement in the nuclear cycle. We oppose the construction of a new nuclear reactor in Lucas Heights. The risks in nuclear reactor operations are comparable to the risks at Tokaimura and they are not acceptable to the community.

 

“The Government continues to demonstrate gross ignorance and naivete in their policies. They are taking unacceptable risks with the long-term health of communities,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

 

For comment, contact Senator Stott Despoja on 0418 812 589

For further information contact Geoff King on 026277 3645 or 0412 680 392

 

 

jk  1999-10-06  11:03