13/08/2008 - 10:52

Libs called to name uranium export ports

13/08/2008 - 10:52

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The state government has called on the Liberal Party to name which ports uranium would be exported through if its wins the election.

The state government has called on the Liberal Party to name which ports uranium would be exported through if its wins the election.

Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan today called on Liberal leader Colin Barnett to nominate which ports would ship the commodity.

"The Liberals have to identify which communities they intend to expose to radiation," Ms MacTiernan said.

"Geraldton and other Mid-West towns could be vulnerable to uranium ore being transported from deposits such as Yeelirie .

"Alternative ports could be Esperance, or even Fremantle, via Kalgoorlie.

"Broome, Wyndham Dampier or Port Hedland could be targeted for exports from deposits such as Kintyre in the Pilbara and Oobagooma in the Kimberley.

"Colin Barnett has aggressively supported the export of uranium and says there could be as many as 11 uranium mines in WA."

This morning Mr Barnett was promoting uranium mining as a key plank in his party's election campaign, saying the state should begin exporting within five to six years.

Mr Barnett today said the opposition would go to the September 6 election with a policy to export uranium to countries that were members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Australian Uranium Association has identified eight major uranium deposits in WA, but Mr Barnett said he did not know which deposit would be appropriate to develop or where the ore would be shipped from.

Mr Barnett asked why WA should not join South Australia and the Northern Territory in exporting uranium.

"There are significant uranium deposits in WA. I would hope that we would see a mine developed," he told reporters.

"It's probably at least five years away, and it would be exported out of a port.

"Which mine gets developed? I don't know that."

He said WA could mine the ore without having any responsibility for the waste from the nuclear process.

"The countries that do use nuclear power have the responsibility for storing safely the waste from the nuclear power generation process," Mr Barnett said.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies said Mr Barnett and Premier Alan Carpenter, along with Ms MacTiernan, should be congratulated for their views on uranium mining.

AMEC chief executive Justin Walawski said Mr Carpenter had acted responsibly in rejecting calls to legislate a ban and "ensuring energy options are available for our children".

He said Mr Barnett should be congratulated for committing the Liberals to their long-standing support of uranium mining and export.

And, he said, the transport issues raised by Ms MacTiernan were "pertinent".

"(People) need to know that with more than 20 million packages of radioactive materials being transported every year, there has never been a recorded accident in which a container has been breached or leaked," Dr Walawski said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the risks far outweighed any claims for an expansion of uranium mining and the nuclear industry.

"Uranium is a unique mineral unlike any other and, when mined, poses specific and profound risks," said ACF nuclear spokeswoman Adele Pedder.

"Uranium mining in Australia carries serious, continuing and unresolved problems and fails to meet key environmental sustainability criteria."

In other campaign moves today, premier Alan Carpenter joined Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to announce a $147.5 million state-funded extension of Perth's northern railway line.

Mr Rudd praised Mr Carpenter as a "practical bloke" ready to make the "hard decisions".

The opposition announced long-term plans for a special guardianship scheme, modelled on a system operating in the UK, as an alternative to the fostering and adoption system for WA children.

Shadow Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney said guardianships would provide permanence for WA children, while providing carers with flexibility and removing much of the red tape involved in foster care.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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