License given for new reactor

November 17, 1993

Kerry Smith, Sydney

On July 14, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) announced that Lucas Heights would be given an operating licence for its new reactor.

The decision will allow the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to proceed with the new OPAL research reactor at the nuclear plant in southern Sydney. ANSTO made front-page news in June for covering up a series of accidents at the plant.

Friends of the Earth's Dr Jim Green criticised ARPANSA for putting nuclear and political interests ahead of its statutory obligation to protect people from the harmful effects of radiation. "The government persists with the lie that the reactor is required for medical isotope production, although ANSTO has never provided evidence that supply is disrupted during the lengthy, routine maintenance closures of the existing HIFAR reactor."

ARPANSA chief John Loy said in August 2000 that he would need to be "very much assured" that a radioactive waste store would be built before issuing a reactor operating licence. But, as Green said, "The Howard government has made very little progress on waste storage and none on final disposal".

Having abandoned its 2004 plan to impose a nuclear dump on South Australia, the Howard government is in the early stages of an even more heavy-handed attempt to impose the nuclear waste on the Northern Territory. Green said that "ARPANSA intends to breach its own promises regarding waste management".

From Green Left Weekly, July 19, 2006.
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