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Australia's nuclear plans put New Zealand in peril

22 November 2006

Australia's nuclear plans put New Zealand in peril

If Australia follows through on plans to build 25 nuclear plants on its east coast, New Zealand would be squarely in the path of fallout from any nuclear accident, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Ms Fitzsimons was commenting on proposals contained in a report by a task force appointed by Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"With the prevailing winds blowing from the west, New Zealand would become the early warning system - the canary in the coalmine - for an Australian-made disaster.

In the event of an Australian Chernobyl, we could be the equivalent of Sweden, in that the first that the world heard of the Chernobyl accident was when radiation was picked up on monitors in Sweden," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"The risk to health and to the economic livelihood of New Zealanders would be real, and the impact from an accident would be long lasting. Lamb from some parts of Wales is still too high in radioactivity to be exported.

"There is also the problem that there is still no long-term solution to the disposal of nuclear waste. It has to be monitored indefinitely. No community ever wants to be near a nuclear waste dump, so they are always imposed on the poorest communities."

" If he follows these plans, John Howard would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Instead, he needs to control the unsustainability of Australia's coal industry, and develop renewables and energy efficiency, " Ms Fitzsimons says.

"After refusing to ratify Kyoto and by allowing Australia's greenhouse emissions to increase even faster than New Zealand's in recent years, Mr Howard must not be allowed to use climate change as an excuse for a nuclear industry that would endanger his own people, and the rest of the Pacific."

ENDS


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