The Guardian January 31, 2001

Lucas Heights Nuclear fuel rod protest

by Andrew Lund

Around 200 protesters gathered at the Lucas Height nuclear reactor on 
Monday January 22, to protest against the unannounced transportation of 
spent nuclear fuel rods from Lucas Heights up the Princes Highway and along 
General Holmes drive beside the shores of Botany Bay  a route known as 
the "Nuclear Highway"  to the Port Botany shipping terminal.

From there the 149 spent fuel rods will be shipped to France for re-
processing. In France, the plutonium will be extracted from the rods and 
shipped back to Australia by 2012 under an Australian/French co-operative 
nuclear agreement, known as the "Curie for Curie Deal".

Protesters were peaceful and well organised, blocking the trucks carrying 
the fuel rods, while letting staff through to go home.

I sat with other protesters in the middle of the road for three hours 
linking arms, blocking the major road leading up to the reactor, while 
others blocked a smaller entrance elsewhere.

They chanted, "the workers united will never be defeated", "export Howard, 
not uranium", and sung in an impromtu people's choir, "We Shall Not Be 

People from the organisers of the protest, SPANNR (Sydney People Against a 
New Nuclear Reactor), Greenpeace, National Union of Students and the CFMEU 
spoke on the nuclear issues at Lucas Heights and the profit-hungry 
international nuclear industry.

Capitalism, and greed over human need, was identified over and over again 
by different speakers as the major enemy of we, the protesters and the 

I went to the protest expecting a broad left and generally progressive 
crowd, but I was surprised by the extent of the anger of the crowd against 
the anti-people, anti-worker nature of the capitalist government and the 
capitalist police, who enforce state power at events such as this.

After confirmation arrived that ANSTO had amazingly sneaked the nuclear 
rods out the back way via a rough and unsafe dirt road, the SPANNR speaker 
announced to the protesters that the rods hadn't been transported with the 
approval of the protesters or the 75 percent of Sydney-siders who oppose a 
reactor in Sydney.

A decision was then made to continue the protest on to the Port Botany 
shipping terminal.

Around 60 people travelled to the docks in cars and vans arranged by 
SPANNR. There we met with the Port Botany Residents Movement.

An informal people's meeting was called, future strategy discussed, 
information given out and ties strengthened between different groups.

Around 50 police in about 10 police vehicles were present, as well as 
Channels 10 and 9, and reporters from the Daily Telegraph.

The protest received good media coverage the following day.

I urge all Guardian readers in Sydney to become part of this 
people's movement, which is becoming an anti-capitalist event.

Many SPANNR groups are being set up all over Sydney, with more soon on the 

To find out more about SPANNR, and/or joining a local SPANNR group near 
you, visit their website at or write to PO Box 1061, Sydney, 
2001 for an information pack.

You can join a SPANNR e-mailed newsletter by sending an e-mail saying 
"subscribe" to

If you want to come along with others, you can e-mail me at:

or phone 9522 2748 for more information.

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