Australian news, and some related international items

Flinders Aboriginal elders strong in their fight against nuclear waste dumping on their sacred lands

heartland-2Dumped-on Elders down but not despairing, Eureka Street Michele Madigan |  02 May 2016 “……..Outlining the numerous times that the Traditional Owners had asked the State Minister for the Environment and the Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg to visit the site, she [Enice Marsh, Adnymathanha Elder/Traditional Owner for the Flinders Ranges area of SA.] could only conclude, ‘But all this has come to no avail — it’s all been totally ignored.’

On Friday Frydenberg managed to have it both ways, in what seems to be a now fashionable way to go about such announcements. ‘There is no final decision.’ And yet, there is only one site remaining from what was a ‘self selection’ offer by the original 28 property owners and the shortlisted six.

Frydenberg described the selection process to date as ‘rigorous’. However, as the follow up process will now include ‘technological, safety and environmental assessment’, an obvious question remains about just how ‘rigorous’ it could really have been.

In a repeat of the one of the Kimba owners’ comments some months back, Chapman seems to be quite ill-informed regarding what will actually be deposited on the property, quoting the usual presenting argument used in the former SA campaign of 1998-2004: that the dump will be for medical low-level waste from various hospitals and universities around the country.

No mention as usual that there is no need for this to be stored long term in the first place. No mention of the intermediate level radioactive spent fuel rods which arrived back from France in December, and are presently housed at Lucas Heights. One wonders when such news will be broken to the property owners and the Hawker community.

In contrast, the Adnyamathanha neighbours and other Traditional Owners are completely aware of this and decry the flawed, seemingly unscientific process where one person can offer their land with absolutely no consultation to the neighbours.

Their own Indigenous Protected Area expert research and eyewitness knowledge cites that as well as being a site replete with ‘countless thousands of Aboriginal artifacts and registered cultural heritage sites’, ‘There are frequent yarta ngurra-ngurrandha (earthquakes and tremors). We see the ground move and the hills move; we feel the land move. At least half a dozen times each year.

‘It is flood land. The water comes from the hills and floods the plains, including the proposed dump site. Sometimes there are massive floods, the last one on 20 January 2006.’

In stark contrast to the previous national dump campaign of 1998-2004 which was opposed by the state government, it seems that this time no member of the SA government has come to the defence of the extraordinary Flinders Ranges, a focal point for the tourism industry of South Australia. Wilpena is a famous tourist site of great beauty and heritage, popular with both national and international tourists.

Indeed the SA community next Friday will hear the royal commission’s final recommendation to import high-level radioactive waste into our seemingly politically disposable state — disposable, now, even to our own politicians…….

despair is a temptation but there is also ‘the distressing matter of indifference. Indifference can be lethal.’ And what pain it gives to those like Enice Marsh who care.

But still there is resilience, and still there is hope. Not only are the Adnyamathanha determined to fight on, the five other communities that are now off the shortlist have pledged their solidarity in a continuing fight against ‘this flawed process’.

Who knows the power of such leadership to break the bonds of our own indifference and despair.

May 4, 2016 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia

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