Australian news, and some related international items

ANSTO says not involved in 1981 truck’s toxic spill. Inquiry to be held

Nuclear agency distances itself from toxic scare ABC News,  April 18, 2012  Australia’s peak nuclear agency says toxic material that has halted upgrade work of the Pacific Highway in New South Wales did not originate at its Lucas Heights facility……  a statement from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), says a review of records shows its predecessor, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), was not concerned with any aspect of the truck accident….

It went on to say that a report from April 1981 stated that “the sources were not the property of the AAEC nor were they being consigned to or from the AAEC”. “They were the property of a geophysical company and do not appear to have suffered any harm.” ANSTO says it has received advice from the Environmental Protection Agency that there is no indication of radioactive drums or canisters being located at the site……A federal parliamentary report into
hazardous materials in 1982 included details of the crash which Mr Higgins says is being checked in light of the sick workers…..

Minister calls for highway inquiry April 19, 2012  NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay says an independent inquiry will investigate how five road workers came to be exposed to potentially toxic material buried on the state’s mid-north coast.

Experts wearing radiation protection suits from Australia’s nuclear
agency will arrive at the site near Laurieton, south of Port
Macquarie, on Thursday.

They will work with officials from NSW government agencies already at
the scene trying to verify the nature of the substance. Three weeks
ago, five workers suffered nausea and vomiting after digging up a
strange, clay-like substance that turned orange when exposed to air.

They were taken to a doctor and have since recovered.

Mr Gay on Thursday said the project to upgrade that stretch of the
Pacific Highway had been put on hold.

“Deadlines on the highway frankly come as a second place in this
situation,” he told ABC radio.

“Work will stop and work will not recommence until we are sure that
site is okay.”

A truck carrying radioactive isotopes from Sydney to Brisbane crashed
at the site in 1980.

An environmental impact statement for the upgrade of the Pacific
Highway stated there had been some uncertainty about where the waste
was buried.

Mr Gay said he wanted a full inquiry into how the road workers were
allowed to work in the area.

“I need an independent inquiry to go through the fill process to find
out what happened in the planning, certifying and even back to the
1980 accident,” he said.

An investigation on Wednesday revealed no signs of radioactive
material, while ANSTO has dismissed suggestions the radioactive waste
carried by the truck was connected to the Lucas Heights nuclear
facility, in Sydney’s south.

An exclusion zone will be maintained around the area while
investigations are ongoing.
In a statement on Thursday, a Roads and Maritime Services spokesman
said there were no threats to the travelling public and personnel were
on site to ensure it was kept secure.

April 19, 2012 - Posted by | New South Wales, safety

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