MAC: Mines and Communities

Australian uranium industry's poor record demands inquiry

Published by MAC on 2013-04-28
Source: Statement (2013-04-26)

The report released by the Australian Conservation Foundation can be downloaded at http://www.acfonline.org.au/sites/default/files/resources/ACF_uranium_economics_Yellowcake_Fever.pdf

High risk, low return: uranium industry's poor record demands inquiry

Australian Conservation Foundation Media Release

26 April 2013

Australia's uranium industry is a minor contributor to employment and the economy, a major source of domestic and international risks and is overdue for an independent inquiry into its effects on the environment, health, safety and security, according to a report released today on the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The report, Yellowcake Fever: exposing the uranium industry's economic myths, released by the Australian Conservation Foundation, shows uranium accounted for only 0.29 per cent of national export revenue and less than 0.015 per cent of Australian jobs in the decade to 2011.

In the last financial year, revenue from uranium was four times lower than Australia's 20th biggest export earner, eight times lower than Australia's 10th biggest export earner and 103 times lower than the biggest earner, iron ore.

"While Australia's uranium sector remains an economic minnow, it is a leviathan when it comes to the damage it does to communities and the environment and the risks it spreads," said the Australian Conservation Foundation's Dave Sweeney.

"It is time for an independent and credible cost-benefit analysis of this sector and for decisions to be based on evidence, not self-interested industry enthusiasm."

The most recent independent assessment of the Australian uranium industry - a Senate Inquiry in October 2003 - found the sector characterised by underperformance and non-compliance, an absence of reliable data to measure contamination or its impact on the environment and an operational culture focussed on short term considerations.

"In the decade since that Senate Inquiry, leaks, incidents and accidents have continued to dog uranium mines, Australia has sold uranium to more nuclear weapon states and Australian uranium has fuelled the continuing Fukushima tragedy," said Dave Sweeney.

"The Australian Uranium Association's push to reduce independent scrutiny of uranium projects shows why this sector does not enjoy community confidence or a social license.

"We call on the federal government to establish an evidence-based inquiry into the operations and impacts of this industry, particularly in the shadow of Fukushima."

Contact: Dave Sweeney, 0408 317 812

Dave Sweeney
Nuclear Free Campaigner
Australian Conservation Foundation
Floor 1, 60 Leicester St, CARLTON VIC 3053, Australia
Ph +61 3 9345 1130 Mob +61 408 317 812 Fax +61 3 9345 1166
www.acfonline.org.au

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