The Federal Government dodged providing a satisfactory response to questions about transport safety risks for NSW residents and the environment arising from the trucking of nuclear waste from Lucas Heights to the proposed nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory, during Senate debate today on legislation to establish the site, says Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon.
“Possible routes for the waste, identified in a 2009 report commissioned by the government, include sending it by road through Western or Northern NSW, or trucking it to Cronulla then sending it by rail to the Northern Territory,” Senator Rhiannon said.
"Once again Minister Martin Ferguson and his office have failed to adequately brief Minister Evans.
“The Minister in the Senate admitted that he is not across the detail of how transport routes will be determined or consulted upon. He brushed off concerns by arguing that a strong regulatory framework will be in place.
"The government's Muckaty nuclear dump plan has serious implications for NSW.
"The Government's response to my questions suggests that consultation on the transport of high level nuclear waste through suburban and regional NSW will be an exercise in managing perception rather than dealing with safety.
“Downplaying risks involved with the nuclear industry, as occurred after the Fukushima nuclear accident, is a common practice in government.
“The reality is that accidents, spills and leaks do occur in the nuclear industry and the government is duping the public by attempting to minimise the risks.
“The Greens support keeping spent fuel, which is highly radioactive, at Lucas Heights.
“This is in line with international best practice and allows waste to be kept in secure containers that can be inspected.
“Accidents involving freight trucks on NSW roads are common. A 2004 NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the transport of nuclear waste found transport increases risks, including of terrorist intervention.
“I look forward to receiving a Government briefing on the transport routes across NSW and how they will be determined,” Senator Rhiannon said.
The Greens will move an amendment to the bill to create an Independent Commission on the Long Term Safe Storage, Transport and Management of Australia's Radioactive Waste.