Failure of informed consent? Government information on nuclear waste is misleading and omits important facts.

 MAPW President, Dr Margaret Beavis made the following statement today regarding the misinformation being distributed by the government implying that because of nuclear medicine there is a need for a National Radioactive Waste Repository. 

Failure of informed consent?

                        Government information on nuclear waste is misleading and omits important facts.

Monday 22 February 2016 – MELBOURNE:  Nuclear medicine has been highlighted as a key reason to have a nuclear waste repository. MAPW President, Dr Margaret Beavis observes that ‘The Commonwealth government fact sheet: Information for communities- Key questions answered is a gross misrepresentation and reads more like a puff-piece for the nuclear industry. The recently released brochure states “One in two Australians – everyone who has ever had a broken bone, heart scan or cancer diagnosis – will need nuclear medicine at some point in their lifetime. “

“This is very clearly misleading in all three areas” said Dr Beavis .  “X Rays for a broken bone rarely require nuclear medicine, the vast majority of heart scans are done by ultrasound, and most cancers are treated by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, none of which use radioisotopes. Even the assertion the half the population needs nuclear medicine is not credible.”

In addition ANSTOi continues to insist that using reactors to produce radioisotopes is the only option. In January 2015 Canada – the world leader in radioisotope commerce - had a successful pilot project for commercial cyclotron production. Current regulatory testing and expansion will likely make Canada self-sufficient through cyclotron generation in 3-5 years. “Cyclotrons are a more reliable, safer and cheaper source of radioisotopes than nuclear reactors, and produce no long term waste, but ANSTOi has not mentioned this” said Dr Beavis

Nor is mention made of ANSTO’s plans to increase reactor production (from previously 1%) to supply 25-30% of world markets, vastly increasing Australia’s waste from the generation of medical radioisotopes for international sales. “We already have more waste than we know what to do with” said Dr Beavis “We need community debate before massively increasing radioactive waste production.”

Earlier this month it was reported that ANSTOi would stop making radioisotopes next year if a waste repository site was not found. Subsequently in Senate Estimates hearings it emerged this was sourced from a previous document and was not the case. These alarming claims have yet to be widely rebuffed by ANSTOi, despite requests to do so.

Finally, the telephone information hotline for communities has been very poor. “Comments such as suggesting televisions and microwaves are radioactive when used are clearly wrong.” said Dr Beavis.

If the government is sincere about informed consent it needs to do much better than this.