Radioactive waste: playing short term politics with a long term problem

The federal government has decided to prioritise short term politics over long term consensus building when it comes Australia's radioactive waste.

In a political numbers exercise last week the government's new radioactive waste laws passed the House of Representatives, however they failed to win broad support and did not rely on evidence or demonstrate responsibility.

Labor joined with Greens, Centre Alliance and independents to vote against the contested push to move Australia's radioactive waste from ANSTO's secure Lucas Heights facility in southern Sydney to a far less resourced site near Kimba in regional South Australia.

Concerns raised during the debate included the unnecessary double handling of problematic and long-lived Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), the continuing opposition of the region's Barngarla Traditional Owners, the lack of a rationale for a new set of waste laws and the government's continued reluctance to de-couple consideration of the different waste streams to allow genuine consideration of alternative management options.

The government plan is deeply deficient. Let's remember, this waste lasts a lot longer than any politician's promise.

In the interests of all Australians we urgently a new and credible approach to radioactive waste management.

Dave Sweeney

Australian Conservation Foundation