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Aussies Want Nuclear Reactor Images Stricken From Google Earth

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-08-08

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From News.com.au, aerial images of Australia's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor on Google Earth soon may no longer be available if the head Oz' nuclear agency has his way. Head Aussie nuke honcho, Ian Smith announced he would be asking Google to remove or censor those images.

Dr. Smith, executive director of Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organization believes that the imagery could provide information and aid to terrorist or other organizations wishing to attack the facility.

"The question comes down to, if you put it on the Internet, does it go to Pakistan or Afghanistan and make it easy for them?" asked Dr. Smith.
Just 25 miles southwest of Sidney, the satellite imagery shows very clearly the layout of the facility's buildings and parking areas.

"We're going to ask Google to take it off," Dr Smith said. "It doesn't stop somebody who's determined to get the information getting it, but having it on the Internet just makes it so much more readily available. We don't want to provide any easy assistance to anyone who wants to interfere with the site."

Dr. Smith didn't quite seem to catch the irony of announcing the nuclear site's vulnerabilities in the following statements, however.

"There's a small area near the middle of the site which is quite secure, but the bulk of our site isn't all that secure," he said. "We don't have the guarding or the hardware to stop someone from getting in to the site if they really wanted to."

Someone may have kicked Smith in the shin after that one.

The paper reports the deportation of Frenchman Willie Brigitte in 2003 after an alleged bombing attempt at the Lucas Heights reactor.

Google Earth already blocks certain views, such as aerial shots of the White House and office buildings nearby. News.com reports in addition to the reactor photos there are also images of the Parliament House in Canberra as well as the "secret" US spy base at Pine Gap.

A Google spokeswoman said the images were too old to reveal any recently sensitive information.

"The same information is available to anyone who flies over or drives by a piece of property," she said.

Chuck Herring of DigitalGlobe, the company that provided the aerial photos of the Lucas Heights facility said the company was under no obligation to censor its images.

"Although we are very sensitive to the concerns voiced, we are not required to seek permission to image areas around the world," spokesman Chuck Herring said.

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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