Ipswich at risk from nuclear waste

THE FIGHT is well and truly on to stop hundreds of trucks a year loaded with radioactive nuclear waste from moving through Ipswich towards a national repository near Inglewood.

A site at Oman Ama is one of six slated by the Federal Government to store nuclear waste which has been slammed as "an environmental disaster waiting to happen" by Cr Paul Tully, who is also the national secretary of the Australian Nuclear Free Zones Secretariat.

Cr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was "putting major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying dangerous radioactive waste across the region".

Cr Tully, who called the plan "total lunacy", said Ipswich did not want such dangerous material transiting through the city.

"It will be a national repository which means that radioactive waste from North Queensland as well as southern states of Australia will come into south Queensland," he said.

"Anything coming up the Pacific Highway will go through Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba and anything coming from North Queensland would as well.

"So it does hold concerns that hundreds of trucks a year could be coming through our area.

"A lot of it would come up through central NSW of course if they do select this site, which is one of six in Australia that has been nominated for further investigation.

"But if a truck, semi-trailer or B-double laden with this material had an accident and caught fire or rolled into a creek or river bed, then that is an issue. Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba residents will be concerned at this act of madness by the federal government."

The devastation caused by the aftermath of the atomic bombs let off by the British in the 1950s at places like Maralinga in South Australia highlight the reason for caution when it comes to nuclear material.

"Those areas are highly contaminated and will be for another 40,000 years," he said.

"Which is why it would make more sense to put this material in a desert area which is already contaminated rather than in south-east Queensland.

"When you read the local newspaper reports residents are concerned about the effect on the water table.

"If it went to one of those areas that are already contaminated where no-one is living, then obviously you are going through sparser country to get there.

"Somewhere in South Australia, while not ideal, is probably the best location.

Cr Tully said "disasters such as Chernobyl and the French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific in 1995 were a worldwide warning of the dangers of the nuclear industry and storage of hazardous waste".

There were plans in 1989 for a radioactive waste dump at Redbank which Cr Tully said had been "thwarted after major environmental concerns were raised".

Cr Tully was arrested during a series of protests at the Redbank site which ultimately resulted in the new Goss Labor government abandoning the project.

Cr Tully beat a trespassing charge brought by the police in the Ipswich Magistrates Court in his fight to stop the dump.

"A couple of hundred people were arrested in the leadup to the 1989 election," he said.

"We fought this issue then and we are ready to fight again to stop radioactive waste being transported across Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba."

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