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Sue Tulloch’s scathing criticism of the federal nuclear waste dump process and shambolic Barndioota Consultative Committee

Sue Tulloch A submission to Senate Standing Committees on Economics  – The appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility (NRWMF) at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia, noting the Government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community. (Submission No. 32)

Terms of reference:

b)   how  the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a        part in the process, in particular:

ii)    how  ‘broad community support’ has been or will be determined for each process          advancement stage.

  •  Untenable site nomination process
  • The legitimacy of the Governments’ Orima Survey 
  •  Lack of transparency from the Minister and DIIS Policy Officer
  • Shambolic role of the Bardioota Consultative Committee 
  • whether  wider (Eyre Peninsular of state‐wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how is this occurring or should be occurring


I am Sue Tulloch, a resident of Quorn, a town within the Flinders Ranges Council district which includes  the site, Barndioota nominated for a NRWMF, a section of the Wallerberdina Pastoral Lease in the northern Flinders Ranges near Hawker. Having with my partner, run the Copley Bakery (northern Flinders Ranges) for 20 years, I know why Australian and overseas visitors want to experience the Flinders Ranges. They perceive the area as having unique wilderness qualities. What would happen if we inserted a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility into this mindset?

Untenable site nomination process

  • The  site was nominated by one individual, Grant Chapman, previously a Federal Government Senator, particularly interested in Australia’s search for a national nuclear waste site for over 20 years, these facts were not publicised.
  • Nobody either next door to the Barndioota site boundary, or in the surrounding  areas were notified at the time.
  • Mr Chapman does not live on this property. He does not live in the designated area, whereas locals who live within the designated area ( Flinders Ranges Council district) have been suddenly lumped with the responsibility  of deciding yes or no to ‘hosting’ the establishment of a NRWMF, the long and short term consequences, impacting all Australians.
  • If this site nomination process (Stage 1) is proven to be untenable, so would the ensuring community consultation process, and the ‘Community Sentiment Survey’.

The legitimacy  of the Governments’ Orima Survey to access broad community consent to proceed to Stage 2.   

The following observations were made after two days of personally studying the governments’  ‘Community Sentiment Survey – Report of Findings’, published by Orima Research in April 2016.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to determine community sentiment for continuing to the next phase of a public consultation process, ( phase 2 technical assessment ) for the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) at six nominated sites. I focused on the nominated site of Barndioota and generally found the whole results conflicting and ambiguous from a layman’s point of view.

That the survey contains too many errors and unsubstantiated generalisations to be considered a formal, interpretive report, being  inappropriate for public scrutiny, considering the questionable methodology and data obtained via the pilot and main general population surveys, especially as the future of the whole site selection process apparently seems to depend on it!  (ref 1)

Lack of transparency from the Minister and the Policy Officer

  • I have been frustrated by the general absence of clear answers to my very specific questions sent to Minister Canavan (ref 2,3) and the Policy Officer,      (ref 5, 6)
  • I had a battle (representing myself, no other group), to see the Minister when he visited Hawker (Fri 2/6/17), having followed all protocol including forwarding my questions well beforehand and communicating with the Ministers’ diary secretary, I was asked by the Policy Officer if I had permission to attend.
  • At the meeting, Minister Canavan did answer my question (ref 3 Q 2) saying, the government had no plans for future disposal of the Intermediate Level Waste proposed for the NRWMF.
  • Replies to my correspondence (ref 4, 6) were received, but disappointingly generic in nature.
  • At a meeting with the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) on June 3 2017,  my questions, despite of the Ministers’ assertion, (ref 4  4th para)   were not addressed.

Shambolic role of the Barndioota Consultative Committee (BCC)

The BCC was established (Nov 2016) by the (DIIS) for ‘ensuring the community is fully engaged and is able to provide input on key aspects of the project throughout its’ next phase’ (NRWMF BCC Guidelines p.1 1.1 2nd para)   However my experience as a public observer at the Dec 2017 BCC meeting, was anything  but  inclusive.

The discussion involved a presentation by consultant about the possibility of excluding Quorn in the next vote to go to Stage 2

  1. Public observers (myself and another) not especially invited as speakers by the DIIS, were very obviously not welcomed. After being told the whole days’ business could not proceed if we stayed,( an invidious position to be put in), we were individually, forcibly escorted out by the DIIS representative      (ref 7) What a farcical example of ‘ensuring the community is fully engaged!

ƒ The BCC ‘is not a decision‐making body and performs an advisory role only’, (BCC Guidelines p1 1.2), however ‘meetings may be open to the public at the discretion of the Committee….’ (BCC Guidelines p7 1.4.4 last para) Is this a decision making role?

ƒ The BCC  is overwhelmingly dominated by  ‘stakeholders’ wanting the NRWMF to go ahead, including the DIIS representatives. It therefore, appears to be a biased, controlled forum that does not practically encourage broad public consultation, being instead a marketing exercise to manufacture community consent.

ƒ The Deputy Convener of the BCC needs to be: ‘independent of the Department’ and to ‘act impartially with respect to any individual or representative in the community’ (BCC Guidelines pp3,4). His role as Chairperson at the Hawker BCC meeting with Minister Canavan (Fri 2/6/17), was blatantly in favor of the NRWMF going ahead, emphasising the considerable financial benefits for Hawker if the ‘project’ went ahead.

ƒ The Deputy Convener effectively evicted me from the Dec 2017 BCC meeting, (ref 7 para 2) contravening most of the ‘selection criteria for the Deputy Convener’, (BCC Guidelines p4) including;

ƒ An ability to facilitate and manage stakeholder committees in an independent manner   ƒ Experience in community relations, facilitation, mediation or public advocacy: ƒ An ability to represent the concerns of a variety of interest groups and an understanding of local issues.

ƒ A willingness to share information with the local community

Meeting  minutes (notes) are ‘drafted by the Department at the end of each Committee meeting, in collaboration with the Independent and Deputy Convener’ (BCC Guidelines p6). These notes are often, only, ‘publicly available on the Department’s website’  a week before the next bimonthly meeting if at all.(ref 7 para 3) A  further example of the inappropriate, disingenuous role the BCC plays in the site selection process for a NRWMF.

e) whether wider (Eyre Peninsula or state‐wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring.

Definitely, in a democracy such as Australia, wider community views regarding an issue with state and national relevance should be mandatory! Particularly in South Australia in light of the Citizens Jury voting no, to the proposal of deposing overseas high level radioactive waste in South Australia. (SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report May 2016). Albeit a separate issue to the NRWMF, it demonstrated the overall negative public attitude towards State and Federal Government radioactive waste proposals.

Most South Australians and Australians are unaware of the NRWMF proposal, believing that since the 2015‐2016  SA Royal Commission, any nuclear waste issues have been ‘done and dusted’. This has proved very handy for the Federal Government, effectively isolating the targeted community groups around Hawker and Kimba, fighting against having  a NRWMF imposed on them.


Another resident of Quorn, in correspondence to Mr Bruce Wilson (DIIS advisor to the Minister), sums up my opinion about the appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a NRWMF at Hawker and Kimba, in SA, noting that the Government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community. ‘The search for a site to dispose of Australian generated LLW and ILW has .… so far, been unsuccessful….. If it is a National problem the answer needs to be found in a nationally collaborative way, with bi‐partisan support, and not palmed off onto remote, vulnerable communities, whose cohesion is split and disrupted by ideology, money and unsubstantiated raised  expectations.’ re jobs, tourism opportunities and long term environmental stability.

I appreciate this valuable opportunity to voice my opinions at a Federal Government level and thank Senator Rex Patrick for the chance.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

We must not leave nuclear waste decisions up to poorly informed Kimba residents

These people seem to have no grasp at all of the concerns of people worldwide about the effects of nuclear pollution on the environment and on future generations.

It is as if they have no understanding whatsoever of the risks to South Australia’s precious groundwater, to South Australia’s agricultural reputation, nor of the risks of transport accidents, terrorism, and the longterm situation of stranded radioactive trash.

Just consider these inane comments:

“the majority, we’re just so excited about the possibilities.  

“it’s a way of ensuring a future for his young children.”

“I think it’s far safer than my own farming industry”

Decision looms for SA town of Kimba divided over nuclear waste  The town of Kimba is struggling for economic growth. Some see nuclear waste as the industry that could help it prosper. Rhiannon Elston, 13 May 18 

The small community of Kimba sits roughly halfway across the national highway stretching between South Australia’s east and west coasts.  Wheat is the main crop grown here, but mayor Dean Johnson

says it’s marginal farming land. “We’re very reliant on rainfall in our area,” he tells SBS News.

The town’s uncertain future is the reason some residents have thrown their support behind a plan to store the nation’s nuclear waste. Local small business owner and farmer Michelle Raynr and her husband have offered to sell a small parcel of their land to the government for a future radioactive waste facility.

“You kind of just dread to think what the town will be like in another five, ten years if it doesn’t happen,” she says.

It would be a permanent facility for Australia’s low-level nuclear waste, and a temporary site for intermediate level disposal.

Ms Raynr says not everyone has been supportive of her decision.  “It’s been a little bit disappointing, people’s reactions,” she says.“But the majority, we’re just so excited about the possibilities.”

Andrew Baldock is one who agrees. His parents have also offered to sell a piece of their land. He says it’s a way of ensuring a future for his young children.

“I’d really like to see something like this to help underpin the community, and perhaps, put us ahead of the other struggling towns in the region,” Mr Baldcock says.

“To me, it’s a lot less scary than the chemicals and the petrol, diesel and everything else that comes through our road here. I think it’s far safer than my own farming industry, to be honest.”

Radioactive waste is currently held across 100 different facilities. The federal government says it wants a central facility, housed in a community willing to support it.

Peter Woolford, Chairman of an anti-radioactive waste group in Kimba, wants the concerns of those who don’t support the project, to be heard.

“They’ve continually said they’re not going to impose it on a community, that it has to have broad community support, but I don’t think they have that in Kimba at all.”

The location for a national facility has been narrowed down to three sites, all in South Australia. Two are in Kimba, and the other is near Hawker, in the Flinders Ranges. The federal government says any facility would be constructed and managed under a strict regulatory framework.

Kimba local Graham Tiller believes any radioactive waste should be stored on existing government land.“There’s just no guarantees that land values won’t depreciate, or that grain won’t be devalued,” he says.

Tina Wakelin, another resident, says she agrees the site must go somewhere, but questions why it has to be in Kimba. “We must not be depicted as trying to stop nuclear medicine, that’s not the aim at all,” she says.“But a little town like ours should not feel responsible for all of Australia.”

Last month, the Resources Minister announced $4 million dollars in community funding grants for both Hawker and Kimba.

Mayor Dean Johnson says dozens of groups benefited from the cash injection.

“There’s the pony club… tennis courts, playgrounds, all sorts of things.”

Graham Tiller’s wife, Janet Tiller, says the money is not worth the impact of such a project.  “No amount of money’s worth the health and livelihoods and friendships that have been lost in the town,” she says.

A postal ballot will be held on August 20 to measure community support.

The final decision as to where the waste site will go rests with the Resources Minister, who is expected to make his choice by the end of the year.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Kimba community being conned by false propaganda about nuclear medicine

Geraldine Gillen Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 14 May 18 It is not just Kimba that needs to be consulted. I live at Whyalla, just up the road. At the very least all of Eyre Peninsula needs to be consulted, better still all South Australia. It will effect and affect us all. Especially the reputation of any agritculture or aquaculture. Unbelieveable that there are some people in Kimba who think this will “save” their town. I believe if it goes ahead, it will be the demise of the town.

Roni Skipworth Gov thinks that people can be bought – they did with the Shire of Kimba as it is a dying town like many rural towns n those who want this to happen decided $$$$ is what they need to boost it.
When the Mayor decided that the vote should only be for Kimba residents three quarters of the Shire didn’t want it, as everyone I have spoken to is against it. Somehow the Mayor and Ramsay had found a loophole and they ran with it. People are getting blinded by being healed by Nuclear Medicine saying it’s OK to av this dump but don’t realise that the Nuclear Waste is completely different than Nuclear Medicine.
Yes the gov is trying to cover up the negatives and saying it is harmless but it’s not as it was why then a worker last year when he got contaminated by a work accident is still not well. When the governments put out No Bullying ads why don’t they take action as at the moment that is what they are doing BULLYING US INTO SAYING YES FOR MANY NEGATIVE IDEAS THEY WANT TO DO ALL AROUND AUSTRALIA.
Brendan Harrington the tax payer as insurance companies hate nuclear, – USA has plenty about it on google and the tax payer pays not the nuclear corporation. I say  NO Nuclear dump and people  should research and see Medical isotopes have a half life of 3 days, This is not about medical isotopes.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment