FOE condemns ANSTO amendment

Issue 

FOE condemns ANSTO amendment

SYDNEY — Friends of the Earth has written an urgent request to the federal government to repeal the ANSTO Amendment Act. The recent act exempts the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation from state and local environment protection laws.

Environmentalists, residents and the Sutherland Shire, which covers the area near ANSTO's nuclear development and repository site at Lucas Heights, have all campaigned against the amendment.

In a letter to federal science and technology minister Ross Free, FOE anti-uranium campaigner John Hallam argues that "it is of crucial importance that the operations of ANSTO be subject to the most stringent public scrutiny, and that they be subject to outside regulation from bodies as independent of ANSTO as possible. The state Environmental Protection Authority is such a body."

A major problem with the amendment, says Hallam, is that it leaves the door open for waste to be stored at ANSTO indefinitely.

While the government says that Lucas Heights will not be a permanent dump site, Hallam argues that "waste could remain there in corroding drums covered by a tarpaulin for the next 50-100 years".

"It goes without saying that in all these matters, the opinions of local residents and the Sutherland Shire Council should be decisive", says Hallam. "If ANSTO is unable to function within the limits acceptable to the local community, then perhaps ANSTO should cease functioning altogether."

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