nuclear free 25 April 2017

The bigger picture: Why your voice on nuclear matters

People speaking out this year are part of decades of community effort uniting people for a nuclear-free future.

Plans to ship, store and bury much of the world’s radioactive waste in South Australia have gone quiet lately. Tens of thousands of people have told SA Premier Jay Weatherhill it’s a bad idea, and many others urged Bill Shorten to keep Federal Labor’s policy opposing international dumping strong. 

Thanks so much to all of you for speaking out. 

And welcome to many thousands of new people joining the Australian Conservation Foundation community through this campaign. The public response means it is harder for risky new nuclear plans to get up, but the threat remains.

I just wanted to take a moment to share how your active support of our nuclear free campaign fits in the bigger picture.

Our work is part of decades of community effort uniting people for a nuclear-free future.

Uranium mining and radioactive waste pollute air, soil and water. Radiation can damage the genetic and reproductive systems of plants, animals and people. All of Australia’s operating uranium mines have a history of leaks, spills and accidents – and none have been properly rehabilitated.

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"The promises never last, but the problems always do.” Senior Mirarr Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula, downstream from the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park. Photo: Glenn Campbell

This is part of the bigger story of pollution and extinction which threatens life on Earth.

We are living with the impacts of bad decisions, discredited ideas and short-term thinking – with very long term consequences.

A small handful of companies profit from pollution and leave the mess for other people, in other places, for other generations.

We can make different choices.

We’ve achieved a lot together already.

Because people like you spoke out, plans for domestic nuclear power have been put on ice.
Because people like you acted, we’ve got anti-uranium mining policies and laws along the eastern seaboard. And we are urging the new WA Labor government to adopt this protection in the West.

And because people like you stood with the Indigenous leaders, as one remote Aboriginal community after another was targeted for uranium mines and radioactive waste dumps, they were not alone.

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Community members block a bridge between Tennant Creek and the proposed Muckaty nuclearwaste site. Photo: Angela Wylie

We stood with the Elders and communities who united and won:

  • The community at Muckaty who successfully stopped a radioactive waste dump on their country near Tennant Creek.
  • Jeffrey Lee, the Koongarra Traditional owner who said no to uranium mining and won World Heritage protection for the area of Kakadu threatened by mining plans.
  • The Mirarr who halted plans for a new uranium mine at Jabiluka in Kakadu

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Photo: David Hancock

And we continue to stand beside those who face nuclear challenges:

  • Communities in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges and Eyre Peninsula regions who are now under active consideration as a national radioactive waste site.
  • The Martu of WA’s Western Desert where Canadian company Cameco want to dig the Kintyre uranium mine.
  • Other Aboriginal peoples facing uranium mining or exploration threats or those seeking to have damaged lands restored.

Decisions made by the Australian government on nuclear issues can influence the world. Around one-third of the world’s uranium reserves are found in Australia. We can make the choice to literally stop fuelling and facilitating this risky, radioactive and under-performing sector and to never allow our nation to become a forgotten dumping ground for forever wastes.

Just like with coal, the nuclear era is over and the age of clean, renewable energy is here.

The sun is the only nuclear reactor that planet Earth needs and polling shows that a clear majority of Australians prefer clean energy. Burning dirty fuels like uranium, coal, oil, and gas belongs to the old world. Sun, wind and waves are the new world. We love a sun-powered country.

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We can act to keep the web of life intact. Imagine a world where we power our lives with clean energy – and wildlife, rivers, people, forests and oceans thrive.

This is the world we can see. This is the world we are creating.

Thanks for your part in making the change.

Dave

Dave Sweeney

Nuclear free campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation.