In an address to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, Bob Hawke said Australia’s remote areas should be used as a nuclear dumping ground for the rest of the world.
The former Labor prime minister elaborated on his statement while speaking to members of the Australian Press Club, at an event marking their 50th anniversary. Former Liberal prime minister John Howard also spoke at the event.
“In doing good for the rest of the world we would be doing good for ourselves,” Hawke said, adding that his government received reports in the early 90s that Australia had the safest remote areas in the world for the storage of radioactive waste and that a nuclear waste disposal industry would flourish in Australia, bringing in billions of dollars or revenue from overseas.
“We would get an enormous stable flow of income which could be used for the benefit of the world and our own benefit,” he said.
Currently approximately 80% of the waste produced at Lucas Heights, Australia’s only nuclear reactor, comes from the production of nuclear medicine items like containers, gloves, plastic and equipment.
Friends of the Earth (Australia) stated that, “Any used fuel is currently stored in permanent storage facilities in France, the UK and the US but will be returned to Australia in 2015 as intermediate-level waste.
It is argued that Australia has a responsibility to accept waste arising from the processing of uranium exports. However the larger share of the responsibility lies with the countries that make use of Australian uranium,” their statement says.
“Moreover while uranium mining companies arguably ought to take some responsibility for the waste arising from their exports, it is not clear that that responsibility lies with Australia as a whole,” they say, adding that uranium is being mined on Aboriginal land without their consent and that the waste will again be dumped on Aboriginal land.