Dr Sue Wareham on the radioactive legacy of uranium sales: Canberra Times

PUBLISHED CANBERRA TIMES, 16 MARCH 2011

Deair Editor,

The catastrophe in Japan has created not only human misery and a tragic wasteland of monumental proportions, but possibly a radioactive wasteland to which many will never return. Only nuclear power can leave such a permanent mark on our fragile environment.

For over 50 years the nuclear industry has been making promises it cannot keep – electricity “too cheap to meter”, safe reactors, technology that can’t be diverted to weapons, a solution to the massive waste problem. They are all wishful thinking.

The Chernobyl catastrophe, 25 years ago on April 26, is estimated to have contaminated 40% of Europe and caused tens of thousands of excess cancer deaiths. Sheep from parts of Wales still cannot be sold because their pastures are contaminated with radioactive cesium from Chernobyl.

Almost certainly, the fission products of Australian uranium are now spreading over areas of Japan and possibly much further afield, determined by wind patterns. Nuclear power is unique in this respect. Wind and solar farms can be destroyed by natural disasters, but they don’t leave a radioactive legacy that keeps on killing for centuries.

The inescapable imperative for the Australian government now, beyond doing all that is possible for the people of Japan, is to put serious, not token, effort into developing the renewable energies that this warming planet desperately needs. Selling more uranium is simply supporting the deaith throes of an industry that has diverted our attention from real climate solutions for far too long.

Yours sincerely

Dr Sue Wareham OAM

Immediate Past President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

Member of the Management Committee in Australia, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons