Nuclear fuel secretly shipped from Sydney
By Jim Green
SYDNEY — On November 25, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation trucked 308 spent fuel rods from its Lucas Heights reactor plant to Port Botany. The fuel rods are being shipped to Europe for reprocessing by the French nuclear agency Cogema.
Cogema's plant at The Hague is the single biggest emitter of artificial radioactivity on earth, discharging 2 million litres of radioactive water daily into the English Channel.
The public became aware of the impending shipment from Lucas Heights only on the afternoon of November 25. Fourteen people were arrested at hastily organised protests at the Lucas Heights plant and at Port Botany. No charges were laid.
As recently as November 18, the Greens, part of the French coalition government, called for the ANSTO-Cogema contracts to be scrapped.
Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown said, "The French Greens are protesting the breach of promise involved by the French government taking this dangerous cargo from Australia, contrary to election promises. It highlights the deceit involved in the nuclear industry."
Wastes from the reprocessing at The Hague are due to be returned to Australia and sent to a store for long-lived intermediate-level wastes in South Australia. But there is no store for these wastes anywhere in Australia.
SA Premier John Olsen said in state parliament on November 19 that SA would not accept these wastes, a position supported by the state ALP, the Democrats and 86% of South Australians, according to a recent survey by Insight Research Australia.
Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said, "The people of Sydney don't need truckloads of radioactive waste moving around. The people of France don't need further radioactive contamination. The people of South Australia don't need a dump. Short-term politicians are making bad decisions that will result in long-term problems."