NT to become radioactive dump site

The Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has announced that the Government is supporting the Coalition’s plan to set up Australia’s first radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory. The planned dump site is Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek.

Muckaty Station is an Aboriginal-owned cattle property held by an Aboriginal Land Trust. A petition opposing the dump was signed by 57 traditional owners of the land trust and sent to Martin Ferguson.

The Federal Government will give the Northern Territory State Government $10 million to be used for education, health and infrastructure in return for the Northern Territory hosting the radioactive dump site. In agreeing to the demand for $10 million the Federal Government has ensured the passage of the legislation through the Senate.

Currently France and Scotland are holding spent fuel rods from the Lucas Heights reactor for Australia, but the rods are due back in 2014. This means that Australia needs a facility to house the waste before then.

The Howard Government created the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, which forced the Northern Territory to accept a radioactive waste dump site at Muckaty Station. The Labor Party at the time promised to overturn the law if it won the next election, and in 2010 kept that promise. But rather than getting rid of the law Labor replaced it with a new law, which still leaves the Northern Territory Government powerless to stop a radioactive dump site being built.

The original agreement with the Howard Government was that the traditional land owners would receive $12 million. Now the Northern Territory Government will receive $10 million if the facility goes ahead.

Read David Wroe’s article on last night’s announcement that the legislation allowing the radioactive dump facility will pass through the senate.

Read the transcripts from Melinda James’s 2010 radio interview when the Howard Government’s law was overturned for more in-depth background on the issue.  

Do you agree with what Rachel has to say on the issue? Read her blog and have your say on whether a radioactive dump site is an act of national maturity or madness.

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