Australian news, and some related international items

Holly-Kate Whittenbury finds the Nuclear Royal Commission UNETHICAL

What is also extremely unethical is how the Commission has twisted the words of experts in favour of the dump; an example of this would be its claims, in tentative finding 78, p. 16, that the proposed areas are seismically suitable.

Scarce poisoned chaliceSubmission response to ‘Tentative Findings’ – Holly-Kate Whittenbury

“……The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Tentative Findings Report contains many generously overstated ambitions, almost no analysis of the environmental, tourism or agricultural consequences with its focus on narrowly supported economic benefits. The media has claimed that there is ‘scientific consensus’ on supporting a waste facility for South Australia, despite there being many scientific professionals disagreeing with it.

Advocates for the facility have stated that as a state which supposedly ‘benefits’ from uranium mining in its far north, shipping the extracted products out to other countries, that we have a responsibility to deal with the waste created from such products. I disagree; it is questionable whether South Australia actually has benefited from mining as much as we are led to believe, with 83% of all mining profits going to overseas companies according to the Australian Institute’s paper #7, ‘Mining the Truth’ (Richardson, D. Denniss, R. 2011, p. 17).

This is a topic that we recently explored at University during our Environment: A Human Perspective course; it is what is known as ‘Privatizing profits, socializing losses’. According to Professor Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University and a member of the Royal Commission’s

Expert Advisory Committee, the royalties from Roxby Downs uranium mining, for example, only contributes $4 each year for each South Australian. Professor Ian Lowe also describes the prospect of nuclear power and processing as economically unfeasible and describes the storage of waste as being;

“…based on generous assumptions about the willingness of those countries to pay for the removal of their waste. Independent analysis by The Australia Institute questions those assumptions and concludes the operation would probably not be profitable. The Commission also notes “there are no operating models for the commercial transfer of used fuel for disposal. Any proposal to store and dispose of used fuel in South Australia would require agreements between customer countries and both the federal and state governments”. (Green J. p. 4)…….

The NFCRC’s report fails to consider the cost, both economic and environmental, of managing a nuclear waste facility over the lifespan of the waste itself; it calculates the profits during the time in which it would be receiving waste, for roughly 89 years, yet ignores the fact that this would need to be managed over the course of 300,000 years. …..

The report then acknowledges it is not possible to know the geological and climatic conditions or the social and political stability of the distant future, I guess meaning the majority of the time that the depot will be functioning. But never mind the future, just the next 10 years could see the grounds of the Flinders Ranges proposed site [for the federal nuclear waste dump] being flooded, according to the traditional Adnyamathanha people, who manage the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area next to Barnidoota, one of the six proposed sites for nuclear waste (Dulaney, M. Feb, 2016………

Concerns about environmental and safety affects of the waste depot are not the result of over-emotional, irrational fears. There are many examples of tragic human error, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the U.S. state of New Mexico being one; the public was reassured there would only be one accident every 200,000 years of its operation, however in the first 15 years, an incident occurred exposing twenty three workers to unsafe levels of radiation……..

The polls in favour of the dump have been seriously affected by irresponsible and deceptive media spin and therefore should not be taken seriously in determining the acceptance of the dump; the issue regarding which type of fuel the depot will take, for example, has caused confusion. Many who are attending the meetings in surrounding affected communities are stating they are being told it will be low level waste only, when the report clearly states that the profits expressed so strongly are actually determined on expected high level nuclear radioactive waste from international power stations and other uses, as stated on page 16, tentative finding number 73 through to 95, in addition to intermediate and low level waste. (NFCRC, 2016)

Even if the waste depot did only receive low level, medical waste, the facility would not be economically viable; medical waste, as described by physician Louise Emmett, only needs to be stored for such a short time that it would hardly make it to the waste facility for dumping, before it breaks down;

“In the vast majority of nuclear medicine practices the storage issue is not particularly current in terms of what we keep is short half life, up to sort of eight days half life, so it would be difficult to take that long distances for storage.” (Baillie, R. 2012)

This quote was taken from a 2012 interview with ABC reporter Rebecca Bailie and described the deceptive and secretive attempts to store nuclear waste on Muckaty cattle station in the Northern Territory and describes the government and nuclear proponents’ spin on the storage of dangerous waste using medical uses as an excuse as a method of breaking down strong public resistance. Clearly, the supporters of the waste dump in 2016 are using the same deceptive techniques. Radiologist Doctor Peter Karamoskos has also pointed out the deception this time round in 2016;

It is at best misleading and at worst a lie to claim that a large-scale nuclear waste repository such as what is being proposed would be solely justified to handle the minuscule amounts of nuclear medicine waste generated in Australia.” (Parnell, M. 2015)……..

What is also extremely unethical is how the Commission has twisted the words of experts in favour of the dump; an example of this would be its claims, in tentative finding 78, p. 16, that the proposed areas are seismically suitable. Its own report cites experts confirming that seismic hot spots and ‘earthquake weak points’ run along the mountain ridges from the Mount Lofty Ranges and Flinders Ranges, affecting at least one of the proposed sites, according to transcripts with Dr. A.

Barnicoat, M. Wehner and Prof. G. Heinson……..  deliberately downplaying thefact that the areas are still significantly affected by shifting earth. There is no way to guarantee the safety of the stored waste for 300,000 years, especially considering the ever changing geology and nature of our planet……

I also believe the process used to select these sites is highly-flawed and undemocratic. I do not believe that the serious matter of handling Australia’s national nuclear waste should be put down to a commercial, profit -driven process where local land-owners are offered bonanza land prices to sell land for the facility while surrounding community members are left to respond. This is not the science based, rational process behoving a matter of such significant national concern……..


May 6, 2016 - Posted by | significant submissions to 6 May

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