Australian news, and some related international items

Janette Thomas – on the biased “community consultation”on Barndioota nuclear dump plan, seismic and flooding dangers

Janette Thomas Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into the selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia (Submission No 36)

My name is Janette Thomas, resident of Quorn since 2003. My submission is written to explain the adverse effects of The Federal Government Nuclear Waste Dump siting selection process on my local community, my family and myself. I am deeply concerned that a nuclear waste facility is being considered for a site near Hawker on the Hookina flood plain.

Terms of Reference:

a) The financial compensation offered to applicants for the acquisition of land under the Nominations of Land Guidelines:

The Barndioota shortlisting site was publicly announced in November 2015. It was also mentioned in the November 2015 Community Newsletter of the Flinders Ranges Council by our Mayor in his “Mayors Message” stating “The first Council knew of this was calls seeking information from media outlets”.

Attachment 1 – FRC Community Newsletter, November 2015

In December 2015, The Department of Innovation, Industry and Science (DIIS) held information “drop-in” sessions in both Hawker and Quorn. It is not known how many residents availed themselves of this opportunity to learn more, however it is stated in the Mayor’s Message that “only a few residents visited them to find out more about the proposal”. I did take the opportunity to go and see what was being displayed, and spoke to the DIIS representatives. I voiced my concerns strongly, however it did not appear that there were any notes taken – just an attempt by the representatives to rebut any of the issues that I raised.

Attachment 2 – FRC Community Newsletter, December 2015

A presentation by the DIIS was held at the Quorn Town Hall on 15.2.16. The information given to the meeting was all positive and “talked up” the benefits to the community. For example:

  1. The $10 million dollars the host community would receive if the nuclear waste facility was to be sited in the area.
  2. 2. The 15 FTE jobs that would be available to operate the facility.
  3. 3. The annual $2M Community Benefit Package that would be available for local approved applications during the site selection process.
  4. 4. The tourist opportunities – it was suggested that tourists would come to the area to visit the facility.
  5. 5. Once the site is chosen the landowner is to receive 3 times the current value for the 100 hectares required.
  6. 6. The “temporary” storage of the Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) was barely mentioned, if at all, until question time when the panel was repeatedly asked about how it would be stored and for how long.

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

A phone “survey” was undertaken by Orima over the period late February to early March 2016 to gauge the local community support to proceed to Stage 2, ie does the community want the various surveys to be undertaken to evaluate the area as suitable or not, for the storage of nuclear waste.

I answered a telephone call and was asked for the male occupant of the house between certain ages. My partner was over the age requested, and I was not eligible to do the survey, and so our household was not invited to participate. I heard of similar experiences later. I would like to have had the opportunity to make a statement at that time. How is it that a small number of phone calls about such a serious issue of “hosting” a national nuclear waste dump, can then be manipulated to gauge community support to proceed forward to the next stage. It has been suggested that the people who had no opinion were counted as being “in favour”.

Many people had not heard of the short listing of Barndioota, and had not had a chance to think about what they were saying yes, no, or don’t know to. There was publicity given through newsletters and DIIS mailouts, advising that there would be officers visiting from Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) on a regular basis, who could provide more information and answer any queries, however this all occurred after the decision was announced to proceed to stage 2. I did attend one of their visits voicing my concerns. Their answers were very biased – that there was nothing to be concerned about – refer below: ( f – any other related matters – A).

f) any other related matters

A. The people attending the town meeting 15.2.16 were given the opportunity to ask questions. Many were concerned about the Barndioota site location for many reasons. Some being:

  1. The Flinders Ranges is renown as being a very seismic active locality. Refer to attachment 3 – Independent Geological Report.
  2. 2. Barndioota is situated on a flood plain, notorious for extreme periodic flood events and massive historic mud flows. Refer to attachment 3 –
  3. Independent Geological Report. 3. Question time revealed that there would also be Intermediate level nuclear waste (ILW) stored “temporarily”. When queried how long is temporary – the reply was vague – different figures were quoted. 20, 30 – possibly up to 100 years. If this is the case, I see no reason to move the ILW from its current storage site until a suitable, safe, permanent site is established. Refer to attachment   4 –Quorn Mercury, (Community Meeting pp1-2)

B. The Barndioota site shortlisted, was part of a private leasehold property, and the landholder had not considered or consulted the neighbours or local community before making his application. He had full knowledge of the search for the nuclear waste site having served on three Senate Select Committees related to this industry: Dangers of Radioactive Waste, 23/3/95 to 24/04/96 (Chair from 30/03/95); Uranium Mining and Milling, 08/05/96 to 15/05/97 (Chair from 23/05/96); and Lucas Heights Reactor, 17/08/00 to 24/05/01, but the local community didn’t. This has been a major flaw in the process of a possible nuclear waste dump facility for many reasons.

  1. Neighbours and community should have been given the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of storing nuclear waste in their area as a matter of respect, similar to the building application process of local government.
  2. 2. To date there has been millions of dollars spent in “world best practice” obtaining a suitable site for the nuclear waste facility. For example:

a. The Orima Survey undertaken to proceed to the next stage.

b. Staff travel and accommodation costs for the many visits over the last 2 ½ years during the process period.

  1. Travel and accommodation costs for the numerous groups who have been taken to the Lucas Heights facility.
  2. d. The travel and accommodation costs of the French group who were asked to give account of the facility in their home country.

e. The $2million Community Benefits Programme made available for application as an incentive during the process to the next stage. Currently there is a second $2million application process underway for the Barndioota site. These processes are currently being replicated in Kimba and will be available for all other sites that proceed to the same stage.

f. The appointment of a full-time Liaison Officer (who appears to be in favour of the facility and not impartial).

g. There are various committees, with members receiving payment to cover their costs of time and travel.

h. There have recently been major costly site surveys undertaken

This will be the process for each of the shortlisted sites therefore multiplying the costly exercises manyfold.

  1. My partner and I moved to live in the town of Quorn in 2003, and knew it as a small quiet community where we could settle and retire. The “process” of the possible “hosting” of a nuclear dump was something we had not considered when we made our decision to move.

We are now going into the third year of the process. Because we are concerned about the proposed location for reasons previously stated, we have been devoting many hours of the day to the issue. This has been a burden in many ways as we have other community and personal responsibilities that also require time and commitment.

Added to the cost to us in time, there have been ongoing personal financial costs. We have had numerous trips to Adelaide to advise politicians of our concerns, and many visits to the proposed nuclear waste site. The DIIS has endless resources at hand, both monetary and staffing, and for a few concerned residents the task is mammoth – “A David and Goliath” exercise.

My personal situation is that I have a chronic blood disorder and consequently my energy levels are challenged. As I believe this site selection process is not “world’s best practice” and needs to be challenged, this has put an unfair burden on my health.

There are some community members who think the “hosting” of a nuclear waste facility is not a problem, (they [The Government] know what they are doing and would not make a mistake). This has led to a lot of community division, and in some cases irreparable.

The Community has not been given the opportunity to have a full and open discussion on the matter where both sides can put their case with an impartial adjudicator officiating.

My recommendation is that a bipartisan committee be set up to undertake a safe, suitable site selection for Australia’s low and intermediate level nuclear waste. The committee should include appropriate people with geology, hydrology and native title knowledge.

Janette Thomas Quorn Resident 2 April 2018

ATTACHMENTS: Attachment 1 – FRC Community Newsletter, November 2015 Attachment 2 – FRC Community Newsletter, December 2015 Attachment 3 – Independent Geological Report. Attachment 4 – Quorn Mercury, (Community Meeting pp1-2)

May 18, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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