Resistance Grows to Australian Waste Dump

CANBERRA -- The nuclear industry's plans for dumping used reactor fuel rods in Australia are being attacked by environmentalists and governments across the country. A group of giant European companies under the pseudonym "Pangea" has targeted the Outback for a deep underground site where it intends to bury waste fuel rods shipped from any nuclear reactor in the world. (See Spring '99 Pathfinder.) A recent Pangea report claims, "China, North Korea and Russia would probably be persuaded" to dump in Australia. But public opinion and a string of legislative actions that would halt the project have attacked Pangea's plans. The West Australia (WA) Parliament's Lower House resolved against the dump, and the Upper House will soon likewise. Green politicians in WA are fighting to toughen the bill since it now leaves open the chance that waste could be sent across WA en route to a South Australia dumpsite. A recent poll found 85% of Australians favor a nationwide legislative ban, because current customs regulations are too weak to permanently prevent importation of the deadly wastes.

*Bob Burton, Environment News Service, Oct. 28, 1999.