The Guardian 29 June, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Is nuclear really safe, clean & cheap?

During the recent debate in the pages of Australian papers about energy sources, I notice that proponents of the nuclear option argue how clean, safe and cheap nuclear energy is.

A recent report in the British newspaper, The Guardian Weekly, tells of a leak at the Sellafield (formerly Windscale) nuclear plant and is very revealing. It has caused the plant to be closed for several months and could have costs as high as 300 million pounds sterling.

Last month, it was revealed that 83 cubic metres of nitric acid had leaked from a broken pipe into the internal parts of the plant. This acid contained 22 tonnes of dissolved uranium and plutonium from irradiated fuel from the reactor.

The contaminated acid will have to be pumped out of the plant into storage tanks. Robots will have to be used to repair the damaged pipe-work because the area is so radioactive that any workers who entered it would die.

Then there is the question about where the waste will be stored.

This is the plant whose release of radioactive waste into the Irish Sea is believed to be responsible for higher cancer rates in towns on the east coast of Ireland.

Sellafield was supposed to be making 2.5 billion pounds over five years to help fund the clean up of past wastes. Instead, it is costing millions more.

The nuclear industry has not solved the waste storage problem. It is highly irresponsible for this generation to leave massive amounts of long term, and lethal nuclear waste around for future generations to deal with.

Nuclear energy — no thank you!

We do not need any more Chernobyls and Three Mile Island accidents and we certainly do not want any more nuclear weapons.

Let us encourage our leaders to establish wind, tidal and solar energy industries for a safer, healthier, cleaner and cheaper future.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Forestville, SA

Shorter working week success

Heard on the radio today that the French had published some statistics relating to the results of the 35-hour working week. When it was first proposed the opponents claimed that it would be a disaster.

Not according to the stats. Evidently, the labour productivity has risen and more people are employed. There is a particular group of people who are extremely pleased with it — mothers with children under 12.

What a contrast to what Howard and Co are pushing for! What I can’t get my head around is the fact that enough people had voted for the bastards and given them a total power to wreck everything the working people had been fighting for.

S Smith
Lakemba, NSW

Further on airport corruption

Further on corruption at Sydney airport ("Crime and corruption at privatised airport", The Guardian June 8). In October 2002 Australian Protective Services (APS) officer Garry Lee-Rogers, who trained security personnel at the airport, was found dead in his home.

Last month an autopsy — which was almost three years in the making — was unable to determine the cause of his death.

But according to his family and Whistleblowers Australia he was murdered for uncovering corruption at the airport by APS officers. In e-mails to friends he predicted he would be killed because of what he had allegedly discovered and said his death would be covered up as suicide.

He also left a note saying if he was found dead it would not be by his own hand.

One e-mail said he had received an anonymous phone call warning that "I have tripped over evidence of drug importation through Sydney airport involving the old Commonwealth Police network".

He alleged the caller had gone on to name two APS officers who were responsible for security at airports and Commonwealth buildings until 2002 until the APS was incorporated into the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Lee-Rogers’s career collapsed when he warned his superiors about security problems with the APS, including racketeering, the promotion of badly trained officers and misappropriation of government funding. He spoke to Whistleblowers Australia saying "I am expecting an accident at any time". He was suspended from his job.

Evidence at his inquest revealed an APS audit had found that 47 revolvers, two rifles, six shotguns and 18 batons had disappeared along with computers and cameras. The week before he said he had been bashed by AFP officers, and that one of them had put the barrel of a gun into his mouth.

In January of 2002, he reported had reported corruption and maladministration to his superiors. When no action was taken he threatened to take the matter to the Attorney-General’s Department. In April that year he was arrested and charged with what he said were bogus offences.

Police drove past his home pointing guns in his direction and he discovered that, without his knowledge, he had been subscribed to 400 internet pornography sites. After complaining to the Ombudsman, a trial date of November 2002 was set.

"I am in fear of my life", he said, "and know I will die ‘accidentally’ of ‘my own hand’ within the next few months." Whistleblowers Australia had predicted that whatever the coroner found it wouldn’t implicate the AFP.

Marcus Browning
Sydney, NSW

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