Nuclear Ban: environmental laws

There is a Senate Inquiry into a Bill to remove the nuclear ban from our environmental laws open to 16 Jan 2023. Find out more here.

Australia banned nuclear power in 1999. There is an ongoing push from a few liberal and national Members of Parliament to remove the prohibition. There is consensus that large scale nuclear power has no place in Australia, we do not have time to waste on nuclear.

Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 section 140A  No approval for certain nuclear installations The Minister must not approve an action consisting of or involving the construction or operation of any of the following nuclear installations: (a)  a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; (b)  a nuclear power plant; (c)  an enrichment plant; (d)  a reprocessing facility.

EPBC Act 1999 section 22  What is a nuclear action? (1)  In this Act: nuclear action means any of the following: (a)  establishing or significantly modifying a nuclear installation; (b) transporting spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste products arising from reprocessing; (c)  establishing or significantly modifying a facility for storing radioactive waste products arising from reprocessing; (d)  mining or milling uranium ore; (e)  establishing or significantly modifying a large‑scale disposal facility for radioactive waste; (f)  de‑commissioning or rehabilitating any facility or area in which an activity described in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) has been undertaken;

Why we should keep the nuclear power ban in our environmental laws:

Nuclear power is dangerous, expensive, unpopular, has unsolvable waste issues and intractable weapons proliferation and security risks. The ban reflects these unacceptable risks. Download more information to help with your submission here. See more in our Myth Busting section.

Nuclear power is a distraction we cannot afford: Removing the ban would encourage nuclear power companies to try to develop nuclear power projects in Australia. This would be fiercely opposed. It would be a distraction from combatting fossil fuels. It would divert funds from the much needed development of renewable energy options.

The ban reflects public sentiment: There have been numerous debates, inquiries, investigations into nuclear power over the years. They have all identified that nuclear power is too expensive and does not have public support. This is clear through the support for the joint statement opposing nuclear power in 2019  from organisations representing millions of Australians.               

nuclear power fact sheet

Why we should keep the uranium trigger in our environmental laws:

Removing the ‘uranium trigger’ would reduce the oversight and conditions applied to dangerous uranium mines. Uranium is different. It takes clean water and leaves behind long lasting radioactive mine wastes that needs to be isolated from the environment for no less that 10,000 years (Atomic Energy Act 1953). Uranium mines in Australia continue to disproportionately impact First Nations communities. Uranium mining poses an unacceptable health risk to workers. There is no example of a successfully rehabilitated uranium mine in Australia. Former mines continue to pose unacceptable environmental and public safety risks. Uranium mines require the highest possible level of scrutiny, currently this is done through the EPBC Act 1999 and this should be retained. See more in the flyer below.

uranium fact sheet

Follow of the EPBC Act Review 2020

The EPBC Review Committee released the draft report in July 2020. The final report is due in October 2020. Follow the EPBC Review process, read submissions at the review website.