Radioactive by-products of Australian uranium spew out from Fukushima

“Radioactive by-products of Australian uranium have been spewing into the atmosphere from Fukushima” reported Natalie Lowrey of FoE Australia  at the recent FoE Asia Pacific meeting in Seoul, Korea.

“BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto export uranium from Australia to TEPCO’s Fukushima nuclear power plant from the Olympic Dam and Ranger mines in Australia, respectively. Heathgate Resources, operator of the Beverley uranium mine in South Australia, has probably also supplied TEPCO.

“Approximately 70% of uranium used in nuclear reactors are sourced from the homelands of Indigenous minorities worldwide, this is no different in Australia. Aboriginal communities in Australia have publicly announced their sadness at the uranium that has be taken from their lands without their consent and resulted in the nuclear disaster in Japan. These Aboriginal communities know too well that the nuclear industry has lead to sickness, divided communities and contaminated land.

“On 6th April in a letter to Ban Ki Moon the Secretary General of the UN, Yvonne Margarula of the Mirrar people, Traditional Owners of the land that the Ranger uranium mine is located on in Australia, expressed solidarity with the people of Japan and much sorrow that uranium from the land of the Mirrar was used in the Fukushima plant.

“Yvonne like many people around the world believe that the Fukushima disaster is a dire warning of the risks posed by the nuclear industry. Production and exports from Australian uranium mines have averaged 9600 tonnes of uranium oxide (8140 tU) per year since 2004.

“Australia exports uranium to both Korea and Japan. As a major uranium supplier, Australia could have played a role in breaking the vicious cycle of nuclear safety breaches, data falsification and cover-ups in Japan over the past decade by making uranium exports conditional on improved management of nuclear plants and tighter regulation.

“But the mining companies and state/territory governments did nothing. And they continue to do nothing.

“The Fukushima disaster has not changed the situation for uranium mining in Australia, but it has had some effect. Public opposition to uranium mining has strengthened in Australia. A recent poll found 50% opposition to uranium exports compared to 44% support.

“This heightened opposition has had flow-on effects such as the Western Australia Labor Party’s reaffirmation of its no-uranium-mining policy at its state conference last week. Uranium is the first link in the toxic nuclear fuel chain, and is the primary source of radioactive materials used in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. Uranium mining adversely affects Indigenous peoples, our global environment and health, and when enriched for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, threatens our security and survival.

“The nuclear-free world envisioned by Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific will require an end to uranium mining. The nuclear option does not make sense on any level: economically, environmentally, politically or socially. It is too costly, too dangerous, too slow and has too small an impact on global warming.

“We MUST turn off the toxic tap with an end to uranium mining. We MUST challenge the green washing of governments and the nuclear industry that nuclear power is a solution to climate change. We MUST bring an end to the deadly and toxic nuclear cycle that results in poisoned lands, sickness and the potential for nuclear weapon proliferation.

“Friends of the Earth Australia joins our colleagues in South Korea, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Japan, and all our brothers and sisters in the Asia Pacific region to build a nuclear free Asia Pacific and create a clean energy future for the next generations.”

Natalie Lowrey Friends of the Earth Australia Thursday 30 June 2011 Seoul, Korea