Australian news, and some related international items

Pro nuclear enthusiasm in Ben Heard’s submission to the Senate

Yes, Ben Heard is on the job, with this slick submission, in which he:

  • enthuses over the Kimba region nuclear waste dump plan, while touting his own supposed environmental credentials  as executive director of Bright New World, his membership of as a member of the Independent Assessment Panel  – but all the same he stresses that he’s  “an everyday Australian”. (not a mention that he works as a consultant  for nuclear company Terrestrial Energy, and trips around the globe promoting nuclear power.)
  • contends that nuclear waste is nothing special, really no different in safety needs from other kinds of industrial wastes.
  • dismisses the idea that a nuclear waste dump in this agricultural reason would have any negative effects on the agricultural economics or reputation of the region.
  • puts a long and unwieldy case for confining broad community support to just the immediate local community.
  • reminds firmly  that no stakeholder group has power of veto and  goes on to waffle worthy statements about Aboriginal heritage etc.
  • says that The District Council of Kimba is an appropriate definition of community in relation to these site nominations, and that citizens in wider areas do not need to be informed.
  • State and National citizens do not need to take part in these decisions, which are best left to Parliament.
  • minimises the importance of radioactive trash dumping- not much more important than household garbage collection.
  • Glosses over the more toxic radioactive waste that will be included. Ignores the fact that with  the planned “temporary” dump there is no prospect of a permanent dump being in place. Ignores the effect on the communities through which the radioactive trash will be transported

Extracts from Heard’s submission 

Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Economics – appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility at Kimba and  Hawker in South Australia

. ……My overall view is that the current site selection process represents among some of the best practice in the world for such a challenge, and it should be supported and continued.

I am now the executive director of Bright New World, an environmental NGO that seeks greater harmony between human development and the conservation, protection and restoration of our natural world. In relation to Australia’s nuclear medical and research sector, Bright New World is strongly supportive of its continued operation and preferably expansion. … nuclear technologies and techniques are demonstrably valuable for improving human well-being

I am pleased to offer the committee my perspectives in response to the Terms of Reference. Ben Heard (Ph.D., MCESM) Executive Director – Bright New World

Speaking as a member of the Independent Assessment Panel and an everyday Australian, the proposed multiple on the land value seems unremarkable. The acquisition would be consequential and beneficial for all Australians, as it will enable Australia to move much closer to international best practice in the management of radioactive wastes from the domestic research and medical sectors. We must expect compensation at above market value, given that consideration of nuclear-related matters in Australia invariably attracts scrutiny and alarm beyond scientifically robust assessment of hazards. The precaution applied to low and intermediate radioactive wastes is exceptional (not only in Australia) compared to many other waste streams and industrial activity. Relevant examples include our sanguine attitude toward transport, use, and management of wastes from agricultural chemicals[5-7], including ammonium nitrate fertiliser[8] and hydrocarbon fuel[9, 10]. So long as we take an exceptional approach with radioactive waste, there can be no valid criticism of above-market values for land acquisition

……There is no compelling evidence globally that such a facility would have negative reputational or economic impacts to the region (though this concept is much-touted). It is therefore reasonable to weight the sentiment of stakeholders with either (i) greater proximity to the site itself, or (ii) responsibilities for regional oversight and representation such as:

  • The nominating landowner
  • The immediate neighbouring landowners
  • Stakeholders in the closest settlement to the facility
  • Stakeholders in closer proximity to the main transport corridors
  • Local government authorities
  • Representative economic or industry groups in the local region……

If stakeholders of close proximity to the site and those with responsibilities of oversight (i) have beenadequately consulted and consider themselves to be well-informed, and (ii) offer either their consentor active support, then the Department might also make a robust case for ‘broad community support’.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has indicated from the outset that it is seekingbroad community support, while asserting no individual or single stakeholder group has power of veto……….

In this region, Banggarla people are traditional owners, and National Resources Eyre Peninsula has anestablished Aboriginal Advisory Committee[18]. These ought provide appropriate points of contact and consultation with those who can speak on behalf of traditional owners.

The District Council of Kimba is an appropriate definition of community in relation to these site nominations. ……. Direct consideration of Eyre Peninsula or state-wide community views in this decision is contradictory to the premise on which this process was based from the outset, being (i) freely volunteered sites from a process open to all Australians, by those with the legal right to offer the site, to be followed by (ii) a process of community consultation and engagement.

The District Council of Kimba has been offered resources ………Nor can we expect citizens in those larger catchments to take an equivalent level of interest in becoming informed. Whole-of-state (or whole-of-nation?) decisions are the job of our elected representatives in parliament. This voluntary, consent-based, local community process was established to move away from that top-down model.

any other related matters. The Australian community at large benefits from Australia’s nuclear research and medical sectors every day. Our nation-wide preparedness to consume these benefits can be reasonably inferred to represent a broad level of consent, indeed an actual expectation, that the associated waste will be managed according to international best practice. Nearly every Australian household puts a garbage bin at the kerbside once a week, in the expectation of a well-managed service to meet our need…….

A worthy aspiration is the active support and enthusiasm of a community that will embrace and enhance this project. We cannot achieve these outcomes by stripping local  communities of their agency. more

March 21, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

1 Comment »

  1. Well he is a spindoctor……


    Comment by spicejac | April 14, 2018 | Reply

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