In the very early hours of Sunday, July 29, the federal government carried out a highly secretive transport of spent nuclear fuel. Helicopters and hundreds of police accompanied trucks from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s reactor at Lucas Heights to Port Kembla in Wollongong. The spent fuel was loaded onto the BBC Austria, owned by Briese Schiffahrt, a shipping line condemned across the world for dangerous and illegal practices. The cargo is heading for the La Hague facility in France to be reprocessed, with a contractual agreement for waste generated from this process to be sent back to Australia. Any transportation of nuclear materials carries risks, but Briese has a particularly terrible safety record, including leaking oil from vessels, losing cargo overboard and failing to follow basic navigation rules. In 2015, French nuclear giant Areva (now Orano) chartered the controversial Briese ship BBC Shanghai to bring reprocessed spent fuel waste back to Australia. This was despite the ship having recently been detained in Australia and Spain, and banned from carrying government cargo in the United States, for failing safety inspections.
Green Left 15th Aug 2018 read more »