Abbott wrong on Muckaty nuclear waste site

Media Release Beyond Nuclear Initiative

July 3, 2012

Abbott wrong on nuclear waste: NT campaign has strong national support.

National environment group Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) has rejected comments made in Darwin by Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that a nuclear waste facility should be built at Muckaty in the Northern Territory ‘in the national interest.’

Under the leadership of John Howard, former Science Minister Brendan Nelson announced in 2005 that a national radioactive dump would be built in the Northern Territory. BNI coordinator Natalie Wasley said it has always been obvious that the NT proposal is based on politics and not science.

“A senior departmental official admitted to a Senate Inquiry that the push for a remote dump site is political. When scientific and environmental criteria informed a site selection process in the 1990s, Muckaty was not even considered for further investigation. This plan has always put the radioactive cart before the horse”.

Ms Wasley continued, “Mr Abbott is also wrong to dismiss concern about the Muckaty dump as ‘local’. The Australian Council of Trade Unions and Australian Conservation Foundation, the peak trade union and environment bodies in the country, as well as a number of unions, health and human rights organisations have clearly stated opposition to the Muckaty proposal”.

“Territory and national concerns reach beyond the environmental risks of transporting and storing radioactive waste in remote areas to include the social aspects of the flawed process that led to Muckaty being nominated.”

“Traditional Owners have launched a federal court challenge against the site nomination and are being represented by a major law firm- Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Practice- and prominent barristers Ron Merkel and Julian Burnside”.

“Mr Abbott may try to dismiss this campaign as a ‘local’ concern but both the federal government and Mr Abbott’s party know that any attempts to advance the NT dump plan will be met with fierce national resistance,” Ms Wasley concluded.

The ACTU passed a motion at its national congress in May stating the Council:

Stands in solidarity with Traditional Owners and communities resisting Federal government plans for a radioactive waste dump and commits to supporting trade unions refusing to cooperate with implementation of the policy.