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Christine Wakelin – very sceptical of National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce’s methods and plans

I do not think that one of two small rural communities should feel that if they do not accept the radioactive waste, these [medical] applications will be forced to stop, as they have been told by Departmental Officials.

Christine Mary Wakelin- Submission to Senate Inquiry on selection process for nuclear waste dump siting

My name is Christine Wakelin and together with my husband, I am a longstanding landowner in the Kimba District. I was a Registered Nurse for over fifty years, much of which I was employed at our local hospital. I had, in this position supervised the administration of IV Chemotherapy and taken simple XRays. A close family member had treatment with Nuclear Medicine for the control of Neuro Endocrine Tumours.

The matters I would like to submit to the Senate Economics References Committee on the appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at Kimba and Hawker are as follows:

  • The  compensation to landowners for “volunteering”one hundred acres of land at four times the normal value makes the more remote rural areas of Australia more likely to be selected as the amount of land required, without significant buildings and improvements, is more easily found there than in more closely settled areas and prices at the selected rural sites will be significantly less.
  • Cropping land such as offered at Kimba, is, in total, only approximately 4% of Australia’s land mass. Eyre Peninsula, which Kimba is part of, is an important grain, meat and wool exporter.
  • To Volunteer, as defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary is doing something willingly without being paid for it. Being paid four times the value of the land does not meet this definition!
  • The definition of “Broad community support” has been a very vexatious matter, varying from a two thirds district support to the majority of immediate neighbours supporting the sites. This has caused much anxiety within our community. It has been said that those against the selection of sites in the are only a “small vocal minority” but even with the incentive of the community benefit $2 million, 43% of people voted not to go onto stage two of the selection process.
  • It is unclear how “broad community community support” will be defined when the selection process moves to the next stage, with Minister Canavan saying that there is no defined level of voter support from a further ballot. This has given further cause for concern from those apposed to the selection of a site in the Kimba Area.
  • The selection of the two original sites in Kimba, following a suggestion by the local Federal member of a site on his farm, which was then withdrawn, caused significant apprehension and distress. There was immense relief when these two sites were rejected by the Federal Government, just prior to the 2016 Federal Election. The nomination of a further two sites soon after this time, has seen distress renewed and added scepticism of the whole process!
  • Since the beginning of the two selection process, there have been many visits from Departmental Officers, several glossy information sheets and visits to ANSTO at Lucas Heights by many local residents, with all but two paid for by the Australian taxpayers. In addition are the ongoing costs of a Community Liaison Office and staff member. These are all to promote the siting of the NRWMF at either Kimba or Hawker. Those apposed to the sites in their area have received no financial support. This contrasts to the recent same sex marriage debate which saw funding allocated to both sides.
  • The incentive of community benefits program and the $2 million /year that is offered, did, I believe, influence people to vote to go onto stage two of the selection process. Remarks such as “we may as well go onto stage two and get the money” were heard as a justification for voting to go further in the process. “We have to do something” was another reason for voting yes. It was ironical that Kimba had just been recognised as South Australia’s “most sustainable town”!
  • The Community Benefits Program is designed, we are told, to overcome any community inconvenience. However no amount of money can compensate for the mental health wellbeing of the community which has been the affect on some community members, both those for and against the NRWMF proposals. I am closely linked only with the Kimba community but I understand the Hawker community has also had these concerns.
  • The selection of the members of the Consultative Group must also come under scrutiny, with an apparent imbalance between those known to be for and against the site proposals. Who made the decision on the membership of the group and on what criteria?
  • The Kimba District is part of Eyre Peninsula, a rich Grain, meat and fibre producing area. Much of our produce is exported, with benefits being passed on to the wider Australian community. Anything which has potential to affect our valuable industries must be given due consideration. Many on Eyre Peninsula say that their opinions should be considered also.
  • We are told that the siting of a NRWMF Facility in our region “should not” affect our markets. This is very different from “will not” and remains a pivotal concern for many people.
  • I am supportive and somewhat familiar with the use of Nuclear Medicine for the treatment and diagnosis of a variety of conditions. However I do not think that one of two small rural communities should feel that if they do not accept the radioactive waste, these applications will be forced to stop, as they have been told by Departmental Officials. Surely there is a wider community responsibility.
  • Does the 2012 Legislation for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste have the power to overrule South Australian Legislation which currently does not allow the building of the NRWMF in South Australia or the transport of other than our own waste, in the state?
  • Does this above legislation have the power to overrule the wishes of Aboriginal peoples of an area?

April 27, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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