The Guardian 2 February, 2005

Nauru targeted as nuke dump site

Science Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that the Federal Government is still looking for storage facilities for nuclear waste, even after the recent announcement that the US will accept spent nuclear fuel from Lucas Heights until 2016. The Minister said last week that he was still researching "appropriate" onshore sites and examining an offshore facility. He has not denied rumours that the cash-strapped Pacific island nation of Nauru will also be targeted to become a dump for Australia's nuclear waste.

The Howard Government has already bullied and bribed Nauru into being used as a dumping ground for imprisoned asylum seekers from Australia.

"We're currently examining an offshore facility", Nelson said. "We're also going to make sure we look at an offshore facility in a remote location because, if for some unexpected reason, the offshore location we choose is not suitable for storage then it's very important we already have developed concurrently a proposal for a secure onshore site."

Nelson is still incensed that a campaign by the people of South Australia overturned the Federal Government decision to locate a waste repository near Woomera. He has accused the states and territories of "crippling parochialism and federalism" over the issue of the location for the national dump.

He referred to the Boxing Day tsunami when describing potential problems for offshore sites. This would seem to rule out most of Australia's major external territories as they are low lying and prone to seismic activity. Heard and Macquarie Islands are World Heritage listed.

Nauru also poses other diff-iculties as a possible nuclear dump site. Its government is a signatory to the Waigani Convention, which prohibits the islands of the Pacific being used as dumping grounds.

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