State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg.
State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg. Brenda Strong

Tully is wrong on nuclear waste issue, says Springborg

OPPOSITION Leader Lawrence Springborg has weighed into the nuclear waste debate and taken Cr Paul Tully to task for overstating the risks involved in transporting what Mr Springborg said was low level medical material which could also be stored safely.

A site at Oman Ama, in Mr Springborg's electorate, is one of six slated by the Federal Government to store the waste, a move which was slammed as "an environmental disaster waiting to happen" by Cr Tully, who is also the national secretary of the Australian Nuclear Free Zones Secretariat.

Cr Tully said in today's QT  the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was putting major cities across southeast Queensland under threat by the proposal, which he said could see hundreds of trucks a year carrying dangerous radioactive waste across the region.

Mr Springborg rang the QT today and said he was "intrigued at reading Cr Tully's statements" on the matter.

"He is very good at exploiting these things," he said. "I have got an open mind on this… but civic leaders, whether they be opposition leaders or councillors, need to be responsible with information.

"What he said is completely wrong.

"This material is stored in the basement of hospitals, and there is a radioactive waste storage facility that has been safely operating at Esk for 20 years under the auspices of the state government.

"This low level stuff can be stored safely.

"He talked about hundreds of trucks, but I just wish he was at the briefing I was at earlier this week.

"We are talking about one container, possibly two, a year of low level material.

"This stuff is generally gloves and wipes. It is medical waste that is stored safely until it breaks down."

Mr Springborg said "five hundred thousand doses of this is made each year for the treatment of hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders, if not Australians".

"It saves lives and we have a broader responsibility to have a responsible debate and discussion about what we should do about storage of this material in a safe way," he said.

"Some of this material is probably stored in the basement of the Ipswich Hospital."

Cr Tully said disasters such as Chernobyl and the French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific in 1995 were a worldwide warning of the dangers of the nuclear industry and storage of hazardous waste.

But Mr Springborg said the comparison was not applicable in this instance.

"It is not that material. We are not talking about nuclear reactors or anything like that," Mr Springborg said. "We are talking about low level material which is produced for treating people, and a small amount every three or four years of intermediate material, which is a tiny proportion."

The QT asked Mr Springborg was asked whether he was opposed to the proposed site at Oman Ama.

"That can only be resolved after a responsible discussion and all the facts are put on the table," he said. "If Cr Tully is opposed to it, that is fine. But don't talk about Chernobyl when this material is stored in the Champagne region of France.

"They have had facilities in The Lakes area of England and stored it for 60 years and there hasn't been an incident.

"That is not to say there can't be.

"But I am open minded about this discussion, and we need to have a discussion in Australia on this."

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