Radioactive Roadworks

edit 30/4/12

So, the ground was tested and it turned out not be radioactive waste, but a naturally occurring poisonous gas

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/soil-not-radiation-made-workers-ill-20120419-1xa31.html

ANSTO has claimed that the barrels containing the radioactive waste were not compromised by the crash, and were safely shipped out of Brisbane. However, a doctor who treated two police officers at the scene claims otherwise, and is convinced that they suffered from radiation poisoning.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/buried-fury-at-betrayal-bubbles-to-the-surface/story-e6freuzi-1226333766448

Whatever the story, the risk of accident for trucks carrying radioactive waste on long hauls is not something we should take lightly. A decade ago, the Howard Government calculated a 23% chance that a truck transporting waste between Lucas Heights and the formerly proposed waste dump site at Woomera, SA, would crash each year.

The haul to Muckaty will be much longer, and on roads that are notoriously dangerous.

*******************

Early this morning, road workers on the mid-north coast of NSW were sent to hospital vomiting, after uncovering radioactive material, buried at an unmarked site on the side of the road after a truck crash in 1980. It seems that the State Government was aware that the waste lurked somewhere in the area, but didn’t think twice about sending workers in blind.

Read full news story here

This event stands as a stark reminder of the dangers that the nuclear chain continues to pose to human health, and the risks that governments and the nuclear industry are willing to take with the lives of workers, communities and our environment.

Today’s events also come in the wake of the safe passage of the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill through both houses of Federal Parliament last month, locking in a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, 120 km north of Tennant Creek in the NT. Waste will be trucked over 3000 km from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney, to Muckaty in the NT.

Natalie Wasley from Beyond Nuclear Initiative says

“Resources Minister Ferguson is pursuing plans to transport radioactive spent fuel thousands of kilometers to a remote site in the Northern Territory, which has fewer trained emergency responders, less equipment and response capability than NSW. This incident should be a wake up call to the Prime Minister and Resources Minister to immediately drop the Muckaty plan.”

Despite the staggering risks to human health and the environment, and despite the express dissent of Traditional Owners at Muckaty, who are contesting the nomination of their sacred country right now in the Federal Court, the Government is still intent on moving this dangerous waste from voter-dense Southern Sydney, to somewhere a little more out of sight, out of mind. Sound familiar?

The Irony is that the transport of this waste puts those living in Sutherland, Liverpool and Campbelltown (the greater Sydney councils through which the probable transport route will pass) at much greater risk than if the waste were simply to stay at Lucas Heights. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has admitted that there are already 1-2 incidents with transport of radioactive materials to and from the Lucas Heights reactor each year. They have also admitted that they have the capacity to store the waste indefinitely. Clearly, the rationale for moving the waste to Muckaty is political quick fix, and has very little to do with the safe, long term storage of waste.

More than 30 years on, the result of one truck crash is still echoing forward, a threat to unsuspecting and unprepared workers. The waste marked for transport to Muckaty will remain radioactive for much longer.

Traditional Owners at Muckaty have been running a strong campaign against the waste dump for almost 7 years now, since the site was first nominated. Organisations and activists around the country have joined the fight, and now it’s time to stand up as a movement with the communities and workers at risk all along the transport route.

Sign the petition against transport of radioactive waste to Muckaty here

Radioactive Roadworks

edit 30/4/12

So, the ground was tested and it turned out not be radioactive waste, but a naturally occurring poisonous gas

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/soil-not-radiation-made-workers-ill-20120419-1xa31.html

ANSTO has claimed that the barrels containing the radioactive waste were not compromised by the crash, and were safely shipped out of Brisbane. However, a doctor who treated two police officers at the scene claims otherwise, and is convinced that they suffered from radiation poisoning.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/buried-fury-at-betrayal-bubbles-to-the-surface/story-e6freuzi-1226333766448

Whatever the story, the risk of accident for trucks carrying radioactive waste on long hauls is not something we should take lightly. A decade ago, the Howard Government calculated a 23% chance that a truck transporting waste between Lucas Heights and the formerly proposed waste dump site at Woomera, SA, would crash each year.

The haul to Muckaty will be much longer, and on roads that are notoriously dangerous.

*******************

Early this morning, road workers on the mid-north coast of NSW were sent to hospital vomiting, after uncovering radioactive material, buried at an unmarked site on the side of the road after a truck crash in 1980. It seems that the State Government was aware that the waste lurked somewhere in the area, but didn’t think twice about sending workers in blind.

Read full news story here

This event stands as a stark reminder of the dangers that the nuclear chain continues to pose to human health, and the risks that governments and the nuclear industry are willing to take with the lives of workers, communities and our environment.

Today’s events also come in the wake of the safe passage of the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill through both houses of Federal Parliament last month, locking in a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, 120 km north of Tennant Creek in the NT. Waste will be trucked over 3000 km from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney, to Muckaty in the NT.

Natalie Wasley from Beyond Nuclear Initiative says

“Resources Minister Ferguson is pursuing plans to transport radioactive spent fuel thousands of kilometers to a remote site in the Northern Territory, which has fewer trained emergency responders, less equipment and response capability than NSW. This incident should be a wake up call to the Prime Minister and Resources Minister to immediately drop the Muckaty plan.”

Despite the staggering risks to human health and the environment, and despite the express dissent of Traditional Owners at Muckaty, who are contesting the nomination of their sacred country right now in the Federal Court, the Government is still intent on moving this dangerous waste from voter-dense Southern Sydney, to somewhere a little more out of sight, out of mind. Sound familiar?

The Irony is that the transport of this waste puts those living in Sutherland, Liverpool and Campbelltown (the greater Sydney councils through which the probable transport route will pass) at much greater risk than if the waste were simply to stay at Lucas Heights. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has admitted that there are already 1-2 incidents with transport of radioactive materials to and from the Lucas Heights reactor each year. They have also admitted that they have the capacity to store the waste indefinitely. Clearly, the rationale for moving the waste to Muckaty is political quick fix, and has very little to do with the safe, long term storage of waste.

More than 30 years on, the result of one truck crash is still echoing forward, a threat to unsuspecting and unprepared workers. The waste marked for transport to Muckaty will remain radioactive for much longer.

Traditional Owners at Muckaty have been running a strong campaign against the waste dump for almost 7 years now, since the site was first nominated. Organisations and activists around the country have joined the fight, and now it’s time to stand up as a movement with the communities and workers at risk all along the transport route.

Sign the petition against transport of radioactive waste to Muckaty here

Go beyond the hour: extinguish yourself?

As humanity traverses the precipice of ecological collapse, edging further into a century which promises everything but the survival of our species, climate change, peak resources and biodiversity loss present themselves as the seemingly insurmountable tasks of a civilisation in crisis. Faced with these challenges, those who preside over the existing order scramble to protect it. Everywhere, we are encouraged to channel environmental concern into a long and hard consideration of consumer choice. Packages in supermarket aisles scream blue murder at their cheap, child labour companions: “Shop ethically. Go fairtrade and organic.” Apparently, guilt is not the point. Conscious consumers should feel good about purchasing the products that speak to who they are. The commodity is a broad church, so why not join it in the marriage of profit and environmental justice? But the feel-good identities on sale are draped in a wedding veil which never quite conceals their two-faced nature. Unfortunately for the eco-capitalists, some of us won’t remain silent and forever hold our peace.

Enter the environmental non-government organisations. “Don’t shop, turn off the lights and live simply.” Their alternative – encapsulated by the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour – seems more authentic, especially to anyone who appreciates the urgency of social-ecological change. No one appears to be profiteering, and world leaders from the UN to the Vatican give us a generous pat on the head for our good work. After all, what could be wrong with a small, if tokenistic attempt to draw attention to issues that consistently lose out to sport and hollywood in the media? Sadly, anyone whose political vision is not clouded by asceticism can see that the path we are treading lightly upon leads, literally, to a dead end. To walk on it is to conceive of ourselves as irredeemable units of greed and environmental destruction. Going beyond the hour can therefore mean little more than consuming less. Less food. Less water. Eventually, one presumes, less oxygen. This is not a joke. If Ban Ki Moon and the Pope are serious about our responsibility and power as (non)consumers to prevent ecological collapse, shouldn’t they be calling on us to evacuate the market, the biosphere and existence itself? Perhaps unluckily, they won’t. Doing so might reveal the inadequacy of the choice between commodity (a), commodity (b) or even no commodity at all as a response to the devastation of ecosystems on a global scale. It could even point us in the direction of political activities far less favourable to Earth Hour’s corporate supporters, such as CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. And the WWF wouldn’t want to damage its delicate relationship with philanthropists.

All this is not to deny the beauty of people’s attempts to prevent the premature extinction of our species. We should all feel good about contributing, even in small ways, to a better world. But it’s important to be clear that the change humanity needs most cannot be delivered by the market or its boycott. Go beyond Earth Hour and the ideology which urges us never to seek transformative change. Leave the lights on and instead call a meeting of critical thinkers to discuss strategies for undermining the imperative of endless economic growth, in which politicians and bureaucratic environmental NGOs are utterly complicit. Reject, rather than embrace responsibility for the ecological crimes perpetrated by economic elites. You are not a mining magnate, chemical producer, industrial farmer, or factory owner. You should, however, have control over whether or not their attendant economic activities impact on the lives of anyone in your social and ecological community. Take it.

Go beyond the hour: extinguish yourself?

As humanity traverses the precipice of ecological collapse, edging further into a century which promises everything but the survival of our species, climate change, peak resources and biodiversity loss present themselves as the seemingly insurmountable tasks of a civilisation in crisis. Faced with these challenges, those who preside over the existing order scramble to protect it. Everywhere, we are encouraged to channel environmental concern into a long and hard consideration of consumer choice. Packages in supermarket aisles scream blue murder at their cheap, child labour companions: “Shop ethically. Go fairtrade and organic.” Apparently, guilt is not the point. Conscious consumers should feel good about purchasing the products that speak to who they are. The commodity is a broad church, so why not join it in the marriage of profit and environmental justice? But the feel-good identities on sale are draped in a wedding veil which never quite conceals their two-faced nature. Unfortunately for the eco-capitalists, some of us won’t remain silent and forever hold our peace.

Enter the environmental non-government organisations. “Don’t shop, turn off the lights and live simply.” Their alternative – encapsulated by the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour – seems more authentic, especially to anyone who appreciates the urgency of social-ecological change. No one appears to be profiteering, and world leaders from the UN to the Vatican give us a generous pat on the head for our good work. After all, what could be wrong with a small, if tokenistic attempt to draw attention to issues that consistently lose out to sport and hollywood in the media? Sadly, anyone whose political vision is not clouded by asceticism can see that the path we are treading lightly upon leads, literally, to a dead end. To walk on it is to conceive of ourselves as irredeemable units of greed and environmental destruction. Going beyond the hour can therefore mean little more than consuming less. Less food. Less water. Eventually, one presumes, less oxygen. This is not a joke. If Ban Ki Moon and the Pope are serious about our responsibility and power as (non)consumers to prevent ecological collapse, shouldn’t they be calling on us to evacuate the market, the biosphere and existence itself? Perhaps unluckily, they won’t. Doing so might reveal the inadequacy of the choice between commodity (a), commodity (b) or even no commodity at all as a response to the devastation of ecosystems on a global scale. It could even point us in the direction of political activities far less favourable to Earth Hour’s corporate supporters, such as CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. And the WWF wouldn’t want to damage its delicate relationship with philanthropists.

All this is not to deny the beauty of people’s attempts to prevent the premature extinction of our species. We should all feel good about contributing, even in small ways, to a better world. But it’s important to be clear that the change humanity needs most cannot be delivered by the market or its boycott. Go beyond Earth Hour and the ideology which urges us never to seek transformative change. Leave the lights on and instead call a meeting of critical thinkers to discuss strategies for undermining the imperative of endless economic growth, in which politicians and bureaucratic environmental NGOs are utterly complicit. Reject, rather than embrace responsibility for the ecological crimes perpetrated by economic elites. You are not a mining magnate, chemical producer, industrial farmer, or factory owner. You should, however, have control over whether or not their attendant economic activities impact on the lives of anyone in your social and ecological community. Take it.