Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


GLW: Bush And Howard Plan Australian Nuclear Dump

Howard Pushes For Uranium Enrichment

Doug Lorimer
Green Left Weekly

On June 6, PM John Howard announced the appointment of former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski, who is also a board member of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), to head a six-member task force to “review” Australia’s uranium mining industry and the possibility of building nuclear power plants in Australia.

Australia’s current involvement in the nuclear industry is limited to the mining and export of “yellowcake” (powderised uranium ore) and the operation of a small research reactor at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney. However, Australia has 40% of the world’s known low-cost recoverable uranium reserves.

While promising that the task force would carry out an “objective, scientific and comprehensive” review, Howard argued that the establishment of nuclear power plants would be good for Australia’s economy. “Energy prices and energy security are key considerations for future economic growth in a lower [carbon dioxide] emissions future”, he said.

The review will begin this month, with a draft report planned for public consultation by November and the final report due by the end of the year.

The corporate media has focused on Howard’s remarks since returning from Washington on May 19 about nuclear power being the solution to climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power stations. The government is most keen on massively expanding exports of Australian uranium, and adding value by turning the yellowcake into nuclear fuel rods. To do this, however, would require building a uranium enrichment plant.

“It doesn’t seem to me to make a lot of sense to favour the export of uranium without looking at enrichment”, Howard told ABC TV’s June 3 Insiders program. “There is significant potential for Australia to increase and add value to our uranium extraction and exports”, he repeated on June 6. He also noted that recent developments in global energy markets have renewed international interest in nuclear power as a technology that “can help meet growing demand for electricity without the fuel and environmental costs associated with oil and gas”.

Australian Greens energy and climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said that everything about Howard’s announcement “points to enrichment of uranium as the prime minister’s real agenda ... During his recent visit to the United States, Prime Minister Howard had talks in Washington with President [George] Bush about the president’s desire to set up new nuclear fuel supply centres around the world with a view to having these supply centres enrich uranium and lease it with an agreement to take back the spent fuel rods.”

The Bush administration is pushing a massive expansion of the nuclear power industry as the “best” solution to global warming. Last year, Bush won from the US Congress a host of “incentives” for the nuclear power industry, including tax breaks and insurance against regulatory and legal delays in constructing new plants. On May 22, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that 16 US corporations had expressed interest in building 25 nuclear reactors in the US.

Bush has also proposed that Australia and Canada — the world’s major uranium exporting countries — join with the US to form a marketing cartel, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). They would enrich the uranium, then “rent” their nuclear fuel rods out to user countries and take back the waste.

According to the June 6 Australian Financial Review, before and during his visit to Washington, Howard was briefed by US officials about the role they expect Australia to play in the GNEP. This would involve “mining and enriching uranium at Olympic Dam in South Australia, exporting it to India and China via the Adelaide-Darwin rail line and re-importing the waste the same way for storage at the former nuclear test site at Maralinga ... The GNEP could create immediate profits for any private firm building an enrichment plant at or near the Olympic Dam uranium mine.”

The Olympic Dam mine, owned and operated by BHP Billiton, holds the world’s largest known uranium ore deposit, with about 66% of Australia’s proven reserves. Under the Bush plan, Maralinga would become the world’s principal site for dumping used nuclear fuel rods.

From Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2006.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page -

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news