FA 139

23 December 1999


Cape Leeuwin Nuclear Test Monitoring Station

I have today welcomed the signing of a contract valued in excess of $10 million to establish at Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia a station to 'listen' for nuclear test explosions.

The Cape Leeuwin station is part of an international monitoring network set up under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to detect any explosive nuclear tests. When completed, the network will have 337 facilities around the world, including 21 in Australia (the third largest number of such facilities for any country, after the USA and Russia).

The continued development of the International Monitoring System (IMS) is a symbol of the international community's strong support for the CTBT which, when it enters into force, will ban for all time all explosive nuclear tests. The CTBT is an important component of the global non-nuclear proliferation and disarmament regime. The Treaty's monitoring network will ensure no country will be able to conduct an explosive nuclear test without almost certain detection. Australia has signed and ratified the CTBT.

The Cape Leeuwin station will be an undersea array of hydrophones designed to detect the sounds generated by explosions, and in particular by any nuclear explosion, that may be carried out at or below the ocean surface. It will be one of eleven hydroacoustic monitoring stations in the IMS.

Data from the CTBT's monitoring system will also contribute to scientific and humanitarian activities, including earthquake monitoring. Data from the Cape Leeuwin station may also contribute to the monitoring of global warming through a CSIRO project to accurately measure the speed of sound in the Indian Ocean - and there by ocean temperature.

Establishment and operating costs for the Cape Leeuwin station, as for most other IMS facilities, are funded from the contributions of all countries that have signed the CTBT. Ownership, however, will rest with Australia as the host country.

I also welcome the significant Australian involvement in the consortium, which will construct the station. The contract to establish the station is negotiated and administered by the provisional CTBT organisation in Vienna, and has been concluded with the US firm Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), with Nautronix of Perth, Western Australia as their major sub-contractor.

The Federal Government is working closely with the Government of Western Australia to ensure that the installation of the station at Cape Leeuwin meets all environmental and other land management requirements.


Media Enquiries:

Departmental - Matt Francis (02) 6261 1555

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