Australian news, and some related international items

Leanne Lienert not necessarily opposed to nuclear waste dump, but very critical of the process

There are far too many discrepancies in the information, consultation process and long term impacts to have such a facility based at Kimba (or Hawker). 

the consultation process has been an insult to the intelligence of rural people

Leanne Lienert Submission to Senate, re  National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in South Australia Submission  (Submission No. 50)   I wish to offer my thoughts to the process currently occurring within two regional areas of South Australia with an emphasis on the Kimba area. From the outset I wish to say that I am not opposed entirely to such a facility being built within South Australia – but I am extremely concerned about the process of consultation, the logisitics and location of such a site and the long term effects on vibrant farming/rural communities.

Financial Compensation  interestingly the offer of substantial money to individuals to offer up their land plus the supposed ongoing dollars is the driving force locally for the facility to be placed at Kimba. Kimba farming district, as all farms across the world, are being farmed by fewer people as technology and modern machinery changes farming practices. It also often means that individual farmers are buying up more and more land for their own needs as smaller farmers can’t compete. Interestingly those buying up land are also the ones now edging to gain financially from this current waste facility proposal. I read one article where a farmer who has offered his farm considers it will drought proof the Kimba District to have the $2 million dollars – This amount of money divided between those affected by a drought would be chicken feed where the costs each year to produce a crop is significant. This community is not poor – it is creative and community minded with little unemployment. Nowadays many young people gain a trade to supplement the farms where they live and work – and as happens across the world others gravitate to the cities

While this money is a huge enticement, logically, the big picture cost of transporting radioactive waste from all over Australia to a small rural community doesn’t seem to be discussed in the consultation! If this waste is as safe as promised why is there a need to move it such long distances when it could presumably be located closer to the source with smaller facilities within each state or shared states?

“Broad community support” –how has it played out currently and will continue into the future I spent my childhood up until early adult years in this vibrant rural community where community participation, comradery, innovation and support has always been paramount. I still have a brother and his family on the farm plus my mother. I specifically know people who have been affected on both sides by this whole process and it is beyond me with the ongoing extent of the consultation that this disconnection and destruction of the community fabric has not been the deciding factor in saying this location is inappropriate on so many levels – socially, emotionally and mentally. It is sad that locally and politically at a Federal level that the lure of money (greed) has risen to hold such a high position in exchange for a totally altered community ethos!

This process has divided the community to such an extent that (people I know well)

  • – sporting teams have been affected because people will not play with those of differing opinion.
  • –  people have moved out of Kimba because they no longer feel comfortable in long term friendship groups who are now split by differing opinions
  • – people do not patronise business who are known to have opposite views to each other e.g. supermarkets, coffee shop, cafe – a distrust of information given to support the facility
  • – queries that there is too much wider information that has not been disclosed or has been misleading e.g. the locations were deliberately local farm names or Hundred names to disguise it not being at Kimba – such as Pinkawillinie, enticements to visit Lucas Heights in an attempt to ‘prove’ and market how safe it is while choosing to locate it so far away in a rural community, and also emotionally tagging people who are against it insinuating that they will have xrays or nuclear medicine treatments and are therefore hypocrites to not support it.
  • – voting for the facility only included those in the Kimba District
  • – interestingly a farmer who borders a proposed property and who is opposed to the waste facility idea is in the next council area and he didn’t get a say – I consider this an injustice. Even to the extent that he was told that it wasn’t ‘adjacent’ because it was across the other side of a dirt road – I wonder if the same person on a city block would think this was fair if a facility was built on a vacant block over the road from them!!
  • – A person I know very well owns a sheep stud – he has chosen not to disclose his own opinion of the facility for a real fear that those with an opposite view will not by rams from his stud.
  • – The need to remain neutral has caused some tensions between a son and mother (who is opposed to the facility) for fear he will be linked publicly to her views and it will reflect on his business and therefore affect those who patronise him.
  • – The notion that many jobs will be created also doesn’t ring true
  • – with a world of fly-in, fly-out employment it doesn’t seem logical that many jobs would be permanently located at Kimba. – I have heard locals say it will attract tourists!!
  • – what would they see? How big will this facility actually be?
  • – What is the impact to transport this type of waste such long distances through populated areas all across Australia to some tiny area on Eyre Peninsular?
  • – again if it is so safe why haven’t areas much closer to the source of radioactive waste been considered? It doesn’t seem to make logical sense?

Broad Community Support 

  • – what does this mean? Initially it was promised that any opposition to such a facility would mean it wouldn’t go ahead. The goal posts changed dramatically in a short space of time so that a vote with a slim majority of 2-3% meant the second round of consultation went ahead and if this continues it’s possible that as few as 300 people will make the decision for all of South Australia to have such a facility here. Is it a fair process if there is not a majority of at least 70:30 to allow this facility to go ahead especially in a decision that has an ongoing impact for many generations to come in terms of governance, changing definitions of “medium’ levels of waste, possible mishaps etc. Community Benefits Program
  • – If community benefits programs were to eventuate I am wondering how this would happen constructively in a community divided by the process – will the damage created continue to foster antagonism in gaining support for initiatives?
  • – Who would manage the money within the community and how would allocation of funds be decided? Would it be at a local level or would it become a political football?
  • – How would such a small community have a voice in changing political processes into the future?
  • – Would ‘medium level’ waste alter as the years go on? How would this be guaranteed and trusted?

Eyre Peninsular and state wide considerations   

– The wider implications of a radioactive waste facility being located within a vibrant grain growing area and its impact on a clean and green agricultural area cannot be dismissed.

This issue is not just for this productive region but all of the Eyre Peninsular and South Australia as a whole therefore the consultation needs to be widened and include both the region and the state in any final considerations. – I feel that the whole economic impact area needs some dialogue and debate because once this process begins it cannot be reversed. – In a country where the greatest population and food growing areas are positioned relatively close to the coast it doesn’t seem logical to locate such a facility in an area known for its quality and quantity of agricultural produce – there is a massive land mass that could be utilised instead of impacting on a small vibrant farming district.

Other related matters

I wonder why (and would like to see the reasons ‘why not’) places such as Leigh Creek (already exposed areas that could be covered within the open cut mine areas to the degree needed), Roxby Downs (already radioactive, with large areas that could house such a facility with easy access via rail or road), Woomera (where the government already utilises vast areas of land and with ready access) or even the Defence Force land at El Alamein near Port Augusta (where the area extends all the way to Iron Knob) – because once again it is promoted as being extremely safe.

In conclusion, after following the progress of the consultation in the Kimba district over the last two years, I feel that there are far too many discrepancies in the information, consultation process and long term impacts to have such a facility based at Kimba (or Hawker).

I also feel that the consultation process has been an insult to the intelligence of rural people. That it was considered (especially in the earlier parts of the consultation), this was one small, insignificant community who could be bluffed/lured into such a facility with money and would really have no idea about radioactive waste and probably wouldn’t care!

If South Australia decides to take on the responsibility of a radioactive waste facility then I hope that this enquiry can honour the true spirit that makes a rural community flourish and not set up processes that will continue to drive wedges between its people in the name of money. Please find a place that does not interrupt genuine people who lives are entwined with the land – whether that be our Aboriginal people, farmers or country towns.


June 1, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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