Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Julie Bishop's nuclear waste dump in earthquake zone

July 18, 2007 - The Northern Territory site recently nominated for a national nuclear waste facility by the Federal government is near one of the nation's earthquake hotspots. Muckaty Station is about 120km north of Tennant Creek - one of the most seismologically active areas in Australia...

There have been 239 earthquakes in that area in the past decade and 1298 earthquakes since 1988. Tennant Creek had a 6.3 quake in 1988, according to Geoscience Australia, which tore up the town.

Anti-nuclear waste dump campaigners have long condemned the nomination of Muckaty Station as a site.

The Environment Centre NT says it's "political expediency rather than proper scientific evaluation in terms of siting a waste dump," she said. Seismologists say the frequent quakes are due to a fault line running through the area. "The quakes are frequent, due to a weak fault-line running through the area," Geoscience Australia said. Two small quakes have hit the Tennant Creek area in the past three weeks.

The proposed nuclear waste dump site has been opposed by environmentalists, the NT Government and traditional owners. Despite overwhelming community opposition, the Federal Government seems determined to let nothing stand in its way to procure a site in the Northern Territory to dump its radioactive waste.

ASEN* say that despite giving an "absolute categorical assurance" that the NT would not be targeted for a Commonwealth dump, in June 2005 the Howard government announced that three defence sites in the NT would be assessed for suitability. All sites have people living within 10 kilometres. None of the sites were short listed when the Federal Government undertook a scientific study to find a site.

At a media conference in June 2005, then Science Minister Brendan Nelson expressed the reasoning behind targeting the NT, asking "why on earth can't people in the middle of nowhere have low level and intermediate level waste?"

The Northern Land Council has offered overt support for the NT dump proposal. Yet, according to ASEN* many Elders have spoken out to strongly oppose a dump on their own country, and have travelled to NT parliament and interstate to voice their concerns.

The NLC also supported Science Minister Julie Bishop’s recent amendments to the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, which further restrict opportunities for public input into site selection for the dump. The changes to the legislation mean that a nomination of a site by a Land Council will no longer require:

+ consultation with the traditional owners
+ that the nomination be understood by the traditional owners
+ that the traditional owners have consented as a group
+ that any community that may be affected has been consulted and had adequate opportunity to express its views

The proposed changes also remove the right of any group to appeal site nomination on the grounds of procedural fairness.

The risk of transporting radioactive waste is also major concern for communities living along potential routes.


Recently, Dr Helen Caldicott, an anti-nuclear activist of more than 20 years, said she feared Prime Minister John Howard would turn Australia into the dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste. She said the takeover of Aboriginal land titles, part of the government's assault on Indigenous communities, is a ruse to clear the way for the dumping of waste in remote areas.

"The land grab from the Aborigines is actually about uranium and nuclear waste," Dr Caldicott said. "It is obvious - you don't take land away from people just because their children are being sexually abused." Dr Caldicott said Australia should reject nuclear power, ban uranium mining and concentrate on developing renewable energies such as wind, solar and hot rocks.

She said the health consequences of uranium mining, nuclear power and nuclear power plants were serious and would induce epidemics of disease, malignancy and deformity that would be experienced for generations.

"Australia is in great danger of becoming a major nuclear nation now," she said. "I think it is very, very, very dangerous medically. I am worried that people making decisions do not understand medicine or genetics. They (the government) are being pushed by the economy and wealthy corporations, like Western Mining and BHP Billiton, who seem to have no regard for the health and well-being of this generation and all future generations."


*Terrorising the Territory with Toxic Trash - ASEN, jan07.

Herald Sun
Terrorising the Territory with Toxic Trash - ASEN
Geoscience Australia
National Indigenous Times: NT takeover ploy for nuclear waste dump
Wikinews - Opposing_a_nuclear_waste_dump_in_the_Northern_Territory
Australian government paves way for nuclear waste dump in Northern Territory

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