Jan 25, 2005

Labor slams Nauru nuclear dump

LABOR SLAMS NAURU NUCLEAR DUMP

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Bob Sercombe MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE PACIFIC ISLANDS

Anthony Albanese MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE

25 January 2005

Labor is deeply concerned by reports in today’s media that the Howard Government has not ruled out using the Pacific island state of Nauru as a dumping ground for radioactive waste from Sydney’s Lucas Heights reactor.

After using Nauru as a key part of its infamous “Pacific Solution” for asylum-seekers, the Howard Government now wants to exploit the island as a dumping ground for Australia’s radioactive waste.

“Nauru’s recent history of political and economic instability would not give any Australian much confidence that the level of security such a sensitive facility requires can be assured. Add to that the geological concerns of former chief defence scientist, Richard Brabin-Smith, and it is mind-boggling that Nauru is still under consideration by the Howard Government,” said Anthony Albanese, Labor Environment spokesperson.

Furthermore, the proposal to locate a nuclear dump on Nauru would breach the Waigani Convention signed by Australia in 1995 and which came into force in 2001.

The Convention is an important initiative which seeks to ban the exporting of hazardous and radioactive waste to all Forum island nations and ensure any trans-boundary movements of such waste is conducted in an environmental sound matter.

“At a time when Australia is seeking to actively reengage with the nations of the South Pacific, this proposal is sending out all the wrong signals.

“The Australian Government is supposed to be committed to developing and maintaining partnerships in the South Pacific through effective regional cooperation. The Waigani Convention is an important part of this and must be respected,” said Bob Sercombe, Labor’s spokesperson on the Pacific Islands.