[ RadSafe ] Article: Australia mooted as dump for world's nuclear waste

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 14 07:35:51 CDT 2005

If this information has appeared in other messages, I
apologize for the duplication.

Published online: 5 October 2005

Australia mooted as dump for world's nuclear waste
Former prime minister suggests uranium by-products
could subsidize environmental projects.

Carina Dennis
Sydney - Australia should become an international
repository for nuclear waste, according to a former
prime minister. The idea has outraged
environmentalists, but some scientists are giving it
cautious consideration.

Robert (Bob) Hawke, prime minister from 1983 to 1991,
made his suggestion to a gathering of graduates in
Sydney on 26 September. Australia has an obligation,
he says, as one of the world's largest uranium
suppliers, to be part of the solution for disposing
nuclear waste. "We would be doing a good turn,
environmentally, for the world," he told Nature.

Overseas nuclear-power users would pay to ship their
waste to Australian shores, where it would then be
transported to sites within the vast, sparsely
populated regions of Western Australia or the Northern
Territory. Hawke claims that the arrangement would be
worth billions to Australia's economy. "It would be an
enormous source of income that we could use to address
our own environmental problems," he says.

"It's not a far-fetched idea," says nuclear physicist
Aidan Byrne, who heads the department of physics at
the Australian National University in Canberra.
Australia's geological and political stability makes
it an attractive site for waste disposal, he says.

Environmentalists disagree. "It's fanciful," says Ben
Pearson, an energy campaigner for Greenpeace in
Australia, who argues that it would be too dangerous
to transport large amounts of nuclear waste around the
world. "Ships sink; accidents happen," he says.

Hawke plans to rally further discussion on the topic.
"I want to get a sensible debate going," he says. "I
would like the Australian scientific community to put
resources into confirming the safest sites."

The proposal will struggle to get political support;
the federal and state governments cannot even agree on
where to store the nation's own small amount of
low-level nuclear waste. And several states have
legislation that bans the import of nuclear waste.

But Byrne thinks attitudes may be shifting. "If Hawke
had suggested this a year or so ago, it would have
been seen as ridiculous. But the nuclear debate has
come a long way." He adds, "if Australia is to be part
of the nuclear cycle as a supplier, then we need to be
thinking about waste disposal as well".

Story from news at nature.com:

  © 2004 Nature Publishing Group

On Oct. 5, 1947, in the first televised White House address, President Truman asked Americans to refrain from eating meat on Tuesdays and poultry on Thursdays to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe. 

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

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