The first shipment of nuclear waste returning from overseas reprocessing is due to arrive in Port Kembla (Wollongong) in the first week of December.
The Maritime Union of Australia (Illawarra Branch), South Coast Labour Council and Beyond Nuclear Initiative are organising a community gathering to witness the shipment being unloaded and transported to Lucas Heights for extended interim storage.
The BBC Shanghai is scheduled to arrive Friday 9:00am but may not berth then. We will hold the community gathering at Saturday 1pm and expect the waste transport from the Port to Lucas Heights to begin just before midnight that evening.
The radioactive material was produced at the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor in Sutherland Shire and sent overseas for reprocessing, whereby uranium and plutonium are extracted. The returning waste is classified long-lived intermediate level waste and must be isolated from people and the environment for thousands of years.
Radioactive waste is a risk to workers who are handling the materials and people living along the proposed transport routes. However, while the nuclear reactor is still operating, extended interim storage at Lucas Heights is considered by many as the ‘least-worst’ option. It is a secure federal facility with the concentration of Australia’s nuclear expertise.
The federal government’s plan to transport this waste in five years to one of six shortlisted sites is irresponsible and unnecessary. Communities at all of the proposed locations oppose the plan and once this waste is back at Lucas Heights, it should stay there where it will be front of mind, rather than out of sight in a regional or remote area.
Radioactive waste is an intractable problem and the first principle of management must be minimisation- stop producing it.
A Royal Commission in South Australia is currently examining the possibility of importing international high-level waste, but we will not allow this shipment to be the start of increased transports or an expansion to the nuclear industry in Australia.
Join us at Port Kembla to say: Don’t nuclear waste Australia.