INDEPENDENT NEWS

We Already Have Facts on Nuke Powered Ships

Published: Tue 29 Oct 2002 12:47 AM
We Already Have Facts on Nuke Powered Ships
The call for an inquiry into New Zealand's banning of nuclear propelled ships is unnecessary because we have already had one, ACT New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Defence Spokesman Ken Shirley said today.
"A Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion chaired by High Court judge Rt Hon Edward Somers and comprising professors Bergquist, Elms and Poletti was appointed by the Prime Minister on 23 December 1991. Public submissions were invited and heard during 1992 with the Committee's 269 page report being published in December 1992.
"This report by experts reviewed all known technical, safety and environmental considerations relevant to visits by nuclear powered vessels.
"The findings and conclusions of this report expose New Zealand's Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act of 1987 to be nothing but empty political rhetoric when it comes to the banning of nuclear propelled vessels.
"The issue is no longer about nuclear weapons and we must amend this legislation and drop the ban on visits by nuclear propelled vessels.
"This ban is the remaining obstacle to our reengagement within the ANZUS alliance which in turn will place us on equal footing with Australia for any free trade agreement with the United States. Regrettably the Bolger government lacked political courage to remove the senseless parts of the legislation enacted by the Fourth Labour Government.
"The report clearly states that it is physically impossible for a controlled nuclear reactor, whether a land based power plant or a naval propulsion unit, to act as a nuclear bomb.
"Risks of radiation leakage to the environment were carefully assessed by the Somers Report. Perhaps the most striking revelation, contained on page 69, is the fact that outpatient treatment for hyper-thyroidism in Auckland Hospital releases more radiation to the environment every day than does the entire US nuclear fleet and support facilities in a year.
"It really is time for New Zealanders to pull our heads out of the sand and take a reality check. The Labour Party must abandon its mindless rhetoric on this issue while the National Party must stop trying to play both sides to middle and state what its policy is. ACT is the only party with a clear unequivocal policy in support of permitting nuclear propelled ships, and recognising the distance our current policy places .

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