Aussie nuclear waste doesn't belong here: court

8th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 8 (AFP) - France's top appeals court has ruled that a state firm's storage of spent nuclear fuel from Australia in the town of La Hague is illegal, in a decision which environmentalists claimed as a major victory.

PARIS, Dec 8 (AFP) - France's top appeals court has ruled that a state firm's storage of spent nuclear fuel from Australia in the town of La Hague is illegal, in a decision which environmentalists claimed as a major victory.

The Cour de Cassation on Wednesday upheld an April ruling by the Caen court of appeal that Cogema's treatment plant was illegally storing Australian nuclear waste that had not been given the necessary authorization for treatment.

The Caen court recognized that the stored substances were indeed radioactive nuclear waste, which Cogema denied, and that they had been stored for four years "in conditions unjustified in regard to the applicable legislation."

Sydney-based Greenpeace nuclear campaigner James Courtney said there was a chance the waste, from Australia's only nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights on the outskirts of Sydney, would have to be sent back to its country of origin.

"If our government breaks laws and cuts corners with the nuclear waste from one research reactor, how can the public trust their grand ambitions for a full-blown nuclear power industry for Australia?" he said in a statement.

"This ruling demonstrates that the Australian government's reckless plans for nuclear expansion include no credible solution to deal with the insolvable problem of nuclear waste."

Cogema and the Lucas Heights operator, ANSTO, said there was no chance of the waste being returned to Australia because the French regulator in May granted permission to begin reprocessing it.

ANSTO said reprocessing began in June and would be completed "within the next few weeks".

Cogema said the treated material would then be sent back to Australia.

ANSTO said the nuclear waste in France was the last from the existing Lucas Heights reactor, which will soon be decommissioned after almost 50 years.

Shipments of waste from a new reactor on the same site are not scheduled to begin until 2024, by which time ANSTO said Cogema would have approvals to receive, store and reprocess the material.

"Possession of these authorisations will mean that the court's decision today will have no practical effect," ANSTO said in a statement.

The location of a nuclear reactor so close to Australia's largest city has long been a source of controversy and residents in the area have campaigned against the existing reactor's replacement.

Police documents released last month revealed that members of a suspected militant cell in Sydney were stopped because they were acting suspiciously near the rector last year, sparking fears it could have been a potential bombing target.

The French court's decision coincided with the Australian Senate's approval to locate a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory, overriding objections from the provincial government and local Aborigines.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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