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Google urged to drop images

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THE head of Australia's nuclear energy agency has called on the owners of an internet satellite program to censor images of the country's only nuclear reactor.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation executive director Ian Smith said he would ask internet search engine Google to remove the Lucas Heights reactor from its Google Earth program. The online program combines satellite images with aerial photographs and maps to let users zoom in on almost any building in the world.

While Google Earth "censors" the White House with blocks of colour over the roof and the nearby Treasury Department and Executive Office buildings, anyone with a computer and web connection can use the free program to see aerial shots of sensitive Australian sites such as the Lucas Heights reactor, the secret US spy base at Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs, and Parliament House in Canberra.

The satellite image of the Lucas Heights facility, on a 70ha site 40km southwest of Sydney's CBD, clearly shows the layout of the buildings and carpark.

"We're going to ask Google to take it off," Dr Smith told The Australian.

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