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New nuclear reactor no cause for celebration

The opening of a new unsafe and unnecessary nuclear reactor in the growth corridor of Australia’s largest city was no reason to celebrate, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

Prime Minister John Howard and the chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Ziggy Switkowski, will this morning cut the ribbon on the new ‘OPAL’ nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in suburban Sydney.

“A brand new radioactive waste producing terrorist target is the last thing greater Sydney needs right now,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“The Federal Government has failed to provide Sydneysiders with any credible rationale for imposing this nuclear reactor.

“The radioactive waste it produces – which the Federal Government hopes to dump in the Northern Territory, against the wishes of the NT community and Parliament – will be a threat to people and the environment for thousands of years.

“And it is not needed in order for Australia to remain supplied with medical isotopes.

“Unfortunately, the imposing of reactors and waste dumps is entirely consistent for a Prime Minister who hand picks a pro-nuclear taskforce to examine the viability of domestic nuclear power, then – before the Government has even formally responded to this report – appoints its chief author, Dr Switkowski, to lead its implementation.

“While Mr Howard and Dr Switkowski are celebrating today, those facing the threats of imposed reactors and radioactive waste dumps will be keeping the champagne firmly corked.”