By Pip Hinman
SYDNEY — Friends of the Earth has warned the federal government against disbanding the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency, arguing that it would make environmental impact assessments of uranium and other projects under Commonwealth jurisdiction impossible.
In a letter to environment minister Senator Robert Hill and energy and resources minister Warwick Parer, FOE uranium campaigner John Hallam said that disbanding the Office of the Supervising Scientist, currently part of the EPA, would be "a disaster for environmental protection and monitoring and make nonsense of your government's statements that uranium mining would proceed only under the most stringent possible environmental safeguards and monitoring".
FOE has been campaigning for some years for the OSS to take more responsibility for uranium mining nationwide as well as for the creation and enforcement of all national nuclear regulation.
The EPA is the only Commonwealth body responsible for national and international nuclear standards and codes within Australia under the Environment Protection — Nuclear Codes legislation passed by the previous Coalition government.
For a paltry saving of $20 million, thorough environmental assessments would be impossible, said Hallam. FOE is urging the government, not only to retain the EPA, but to expand and improve its functioning.