Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima disaster

Photo: Beyond Nuclear Initiative/FB.

Beyond Nuclear Initiative released this statement on March 11.

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On the third anniversary of the continuing Fukushima nuclear crisis, environment groups have called on New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and his government to shelve plans for uranium exploration and mining in the state.

ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said: “It was confirmed to the federal parliament in October 2011 that Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima.

“The Fukushima crisis started in the back of big yellow trucks in Kakadu and northern South Australia — these rocks are now the source of fallout in Japan and far beyond.”

The nuclear meltdown that began at Tokyo Electric Power Corporation’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on 11 March, 2011 resulted in wide-scale environmental, social and economic destruction and dislocation. Over 150,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods and the stricken reactor complex continues to pose a major environmental and human safety threat. The clean up will likely take decades.

Japanese activist Sakyo Noda, from Uranium Free NSW said: “There are no nuclear power plants operating in Japan at the moment and public opposition to the nuclear industry is still going strong. Japanese society has changed since Fukushima. It is a terrible time but also a hopeful time. We have the chance to learn from Fukushima and make sure that the same mistake never happens again. Here in New South Wales and across Australia our opportunity and our responsibility is to stop another Fukushima by keeping uranium in the ground.”

In 2012, the NSW government overturned a 26-year legislative ban on uranium exploration and signed a memorandum of understanding with South Australia to facilitate cross-border projects. This move is strongly opposed by environment, public health and community organisations, along with NSW Labor, a range of trade unions and the NSW Greens.

“Uranium is a mineral with unique dangers and long term consequences”, said Beyond Nuclear Initiative convenor Natalie Wasley. “O’Farrell needs to recognise and acknowledge the impacts of Australia’s uranium trade, both here and overseas, and put the brakes on plans for uranium exploration and mining in NSW.

“The O’Farrell government did not seek or receive a mandate to advance uranium mining at the last election. Fukushima will take decades to clean up and waste from uranium mining must be isolated for tens of thousands of years. With the opportunity to develop renewable energy projects across NSW, it is time for O’Farrell to put his atomic ambitions on the back burner.”

Noda added “To commemorate Fukushima people across Australia have taken action at uranium related sites and government buildings. We received a photo from Fukushima community members reminding us that Australian uranium is contaminating their land, air and water. The Fukushima banner asks us to leave uranium in the ground and we will work to honour this request.”

[Events to mark the Fukushima disaster will be held at:
Darwin, March 11, 6pm at Nightcliff Jetty
Sydney, March 11, 5pm at Martin Place, Sydney CBD.
Melbourne, March 11, 5pm at the GPO on Bourke St, Melbourne CBD.]

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