Wasted opportunity: Minister gets it wrong on radioactive dump

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s intention to locate a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory continues the Howard Government’s approach to nuclear waste and is inconsistent with Labor promises and policy, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

Minister Ferguson today ruled out three of the four sites on his shortlist, leaving Muckaty, 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, as the only one he would pursue.

“By putting Muckaty in the frame and advancing a process based on secrecy Minister Ferguson has wasted an opportunity to fulfil federal Labor’s clear 2007 election promise,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Anything less than full repeal of the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act and a site selection process that is open, transparent and consultative would be inconsistent with Labor’s 2007 election pledges and would continue the Howard Government approach to nuclear waste and Indigenous communities.

“Attempts to dump nuclear waste at Muckaty will be fiercely contested.

“Every state and territory in Australia has laws preventing the establishment of a nuclear waste dump so moves to open up a ‘national voluntary site nomination process’, where marginalised communities bid to host a nuclear dump, are not only ethically questionable but face serious legislative barriers.

“The carrot, stick and secrecy approach is no way to manage radioactive waste.

“It is time for a fresh start and an open and responsible process from the Federal Government,” he said.

ACF is urging the Federal Government to fulfil its promise to establish a “consensual process of site selection” based on “agreed scientific grounds for determining suitability” and “community consultation and support”.