Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.

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

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