By Jim Green
Western Australian energy minister Colin Barnett told the WA parliament on April 20 that there may be as many as 11 uranium mines in the state within five years.
Barnett also raised the possibility that WA could become a site for nuclear waste disposal. He said any country that is a "significant uranium producer has some moral and international responsibility" for nuclear waste disposal.
Commenting on Pangea Resources' proposal for an international dump in WA or South Australia, Australian Democrats' Senator Lyn Allison said Barnett's comments "vindicate concerns that the more Australia exports uranium, the greater the pressure for us to store the world's nuclear waste."
Revelations that the proposed dump could be sited within the Cosmo Newbury Aboriginal Reserve spell "another nightmare for indigenous people", Allison said. "Pangea's proposal was a complete surprise to the traditional owners of the region and their representatives at the Ngaanyatjarra Land Council. The Ngaanyatjarra people are totally opposed to this proposal", she said.
In the Senate on April 22, a motion from Greens senator Bob Brown congratulating the Coalition for its opposition to the Pangea proposal was unanimously passed.
Allison said the government "should put its money where its mouth is and legislate to prohibit the importation of foreign nuclear waste". The federal government declined to legislate to prohibit nuclear waste importation last year, during the passage of legislation relating to commonwealth nuclear activities.