Update on the Narangba Irradiation Plant
History of Steritech &
When Steritechıs Managing Director Mr. George West first
came to Brisbane in 1985, he was proclaiming the benefits to
Queensland of his companyıs proposal to build a food irradiation
plant at Rocklea. Local opposition mobilised and sent
Steritech packing. Mr. Westıs plans were also ousted
from Auckland in 1987 because the containment pond storing the
highly radioactive cobalt-60 rods would penetrate below the level
of the water table. However, the nuclear industry is
persistent and Mr. West is back in town. He has persuaded
the Caboolture Shire Council to approve the siting of
Steritechıs irradiation plant at Narangba.
Although Steritech have a long history of involvement with food
irradiation, they are being sneaky this time, insisting that the
Narangba plant is not for food irradiation, although all
evidence indicates otherwise. In July this year, State
Health Ministers voted to relax the national standards on food
irradiation. Mr. West wrote a lengthy submission in support
of food irradiation to their inquiry.
The public has continuously been excluded from the
decision-making process. The Council had been negotiating
with Steritech since January 1999, yet the public was not
informed until July. Approval was granted on 31st August,
despite submissions against the proposal outnumbering those in
favour by 28 to 7. The Council also refused to hold a
public meeting to discuss the matter, despite receiving many
requests to do so. Despite all attempts to sneak this
proposal through, public awareness of is growing, along with a
grass roots campaign to oppose the plant. Narangba
residents arranged their own public meeting which was attended by
165 outraged locals.
Planning & Environment Court Appeal
An appeal has been lodged with the Planning and Environment
Court and we are looking for experts willing to help with the
case We are concerned that no procedure is planned
for clean-up in the eventuality of a leak from the containment
pond into the surrounding environment, with the potential to
cause a major ecological disaster. Ozone generated in the
containment water is extremely toxic to aquatic life.
Furthermore, there is a risk of radioactive contamination
should the Co-60 sources corrode, releasing water soluble
radioactive ions. Seismology reports show that the area is
prone to seismic activity.
Conflict of Interests in Beattieıs ³Smart State²
We have to ask why such a dangerous and backward project is
even being considered in Queensland. To find answers, we
must go to the Qld State Government who has been behind this
project since the beginning. Representatives from the State
Development Board and Qld Health were present at Steritechıs
first presentation to Council and made it clear that they
supported the proposal. The project fits in with Beattieıs
latest vision for a ³Smart State² which treads the tired old
path of technology sophistication and high-techı business
in the elusive search for ³innovative industry².
Innovations that require the rezoning of land to
accommodate hazardous, offensive and noxiousı industry.
There is a clear conflict of interests within the department of
Qld Health. Steritech must next obtain a license from Qld
Radiation Health to possess, use and transport the radioactive
sources. QRH legislation seems to be aimed more at
facilitating further expansion of the nuclear industry and
products, rather than protecting public health from radioactive
exposure. Furthermore, one of the submissions in support of
Steritech came from the Qld Bone Bank, another department within
Howardıs Nuclear Future ?
The Narangba irradiation plant cannot be viewed in isolation,
it is an offshoot of the broader nuclear industry which is on the
brink of expansion into Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
The Federal Government is actively engaged in encouraging
our industrializing neighbours to adopt nuclear technology.
More and more nuclear products and processes are planned
for release to consumers. This is the context of the Howard
governmentıs approvals for more uranium mines, a new nuclear
reactor, and new radioactive waste storage facilities.
Rally at Caboolture Showgrounds
The Narangba Working Group
is planning a rally on 15th January at the Caboolture
showgrounds. Dr Helen
Caldicott and Dick Smith are invited to speak. 500 to 1000
people are expected to attend and demonstrate their support for
ecologically sustainable industry.
Write letters to:
v Premier Peter Beattie
v State Development Board.
v Minister for Health, Mrs. Wendy Edmonds
Discuss the issue with your friends
Donate $$ to the campaign to help cover printing
Come to the Rally, 2 pm, 15th Jan @ Centenary Lakes
For more info contact:
Friends of the Earth Brisbane,
PO Box 5702, West End, Q4101,
Tel: 07 3846 5793, Fax: 07 3846 4791, Email:
This page is
The Rivermouth Action Group Inc
as a community