In a statement tabled in the Senate last night, the Turnbull government has confirmed it will seek to proceed with selling Uranium to Ukraine despite significant safety and security concerns raised by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
“Australia, the nation that fuelled Fukushima should not sell uranium to the country that gave us Chernobyl,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation's Dave Sweeney.
In February a JSCOT investigation found that existing safeguards were ‘not sufficient’ and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear off the radar in Ukraine.
The government has ignored JSCOT’s recommended pre-conditions around risk assessment and recovery of nuclear materials and is looking to advance the deal despite the risks of war, civil unrest and nuclear insecurity in the eastern European country, which is involved in hostilities with Russia.
“The treaties committee’s report found ‘Australian nuclear material should never be placed in a situation where there is a risk that regulatory control of the material will be lost’, yet this is exactly what could happen under the deeply inadequate checks and balances that apply to exported Australian uranium," said Mr Sweeney.
“JSCOT recommended the Australian government undertake a detailed and proper risk assessment and develop an effective contingency plan for the removal of ‘at risk’ Australian nuclear material prior to any sales deal.
“Unreasonably and irresponsibly the government response fails to credibly address this. Australia should be very cautious about providing nuclear fuel to an already tense geo-political situation in eastern Europe.
“Ukraine’s nuclear sector is plagued by serious and unresolved safety, security and governance issues.
“Two-thirds of Ukraine’s aging fleet of 15 nuclear reactors will be past its design lifetime use-by date in just four years.
“This is an insecure and unsafe industrial sector in a highly uncertain part of the world. Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima and this deeply inadequate response shows the government has learnt little and cares less”.
For comment and context: Dave Sweeney, 0418 317 812