Australia’s nuclear submarine arrangement with the United States and Britain has been singled out by conservationists as a threat to the nation’s environmental security.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the details of the deal on Tuesday along with his counterparts US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Under the $368 billion deal, part of the AUKUS security deal, Australia will command a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines within the next three decades.
But the Australian Conservation Foundation said the government had been silent on how the nuclear material that feeds submarines would eventually be disposed of.
The foundation’s nuclear analyst, Dave Sweeney, said Australia did not have the experience and expertise to manage high-level radioactive waste.
“AUKUS presents by far the biggest threat yet of Australia becoming a dumping ground for the world’s worst nuclear waste,” he said.
Sweeney said the defense proposal had been developed without public consultation or debate.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said dealing with nuclear waste from submarines when the first ships are decommissioned will be “a very significant thing”, although it won’t happen for 30 years.
“We’ll have to build a facility to do this, obviously it’s going to have to be somewhere that’s away from the towns,” he told Seven’s. Sunrise Wednesday program.
Marles said the underwater debris would be disposed of on defense grounds and Australia had time to ensure the process was done correctly.
The submarine project is expected to create at least 20,000 jobs in the next 30 years.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said he believed Port Kembla, south of Sydney, should be used as an east coast base for submarines.
But the local chamber of commerce and labor council said Port Kembla deserved better than what Perrottet had offered.
“We have been working very hard over the years to diversify our port to provide real job opportunities for our people and we are almost there, on the cusp of a $40 billion investment in renewable energy,” said the Secretary of the Labor Council. of the South Coast, Arthur Rorris. .
“Out of nowhere comes the idea that they build a nuclear parking lot, not a shipbuilding base, but a parking lot, here and put a massive nuclear target on our backs.”
Port Kembla Chamber of Commerce President Greg Rodgers said the community wanted the renewable energy jobs they had been promised.
“We are looking for renewable jobs, energy neutral industries, green industries,” he said.