Australian news, and some related international items

MNEMOSYNE GILES’ powerful submission exposes the deceit in the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility plan

MNEMOSYNE GILES (citizen of South Australia) to Senate Inquiry on Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia (Submission 51)

 I submit that the process of selecting a site for a NRWMF has been fundamentally flawed by the fact that it has not been properly or publicly debated whether a NRWM F is an appropriate response to the problem of Australia,s radioactive waste. It is therefore premature to be selecting a site. The inappropriate campaigns of ANSTO and ARPANSA to find a site as soon as possible,(within one year it is suggested) , are part of the misguided nature of their task

 I therefore recommend that this Senate Inquiry lead on to a full independent Judicial inquiry into Australia,s radioactive nuclear waste and whether we should keep producing it. I recommend a moratorium on uranium mining should be held while a decision on what to do with the waste is made.

World wide there is no solution to the long lived ILW (Intermediate Level Waste), and this must be acknowledged and emphasised at all levels of discussion and public consultation. Instead of this the NRWMF site selection process has given the illusion that a National site would be a “safe”solution allowing the industry to continue.

  1. CORRUPTION The Act 2012 that allows nominated private land to become nuclear radioactive dump sites, allowing State prohibition laws to be over-ridden, needs to be examined in connection with the possible corrupt volunteering of land, ………. I recommend an independent inquiry into how and why the National Dump process was initiated,and what interests,(including defence,may have been involved).

 An inquiry should ask :why is nuclear radioactive waste at present not better secured at sites such as Woomera where it currently is held? :how”safe” is any storage of ILW? :would one National site be “safer” than more smaller sites,considering that a National site provides a more definite military target and involves the hazards of transport.

2) COLLUSION   It needs to be explained how it came to be that the two campaigns for an International dump in S.A. And a National dump were run in parallel during the year of the NFCRC (Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission).

 I submit that there was communication and co-operation between State and Federal Govts.or other bodies to keep the two separate. The effect of the concurrent campaigns was to confuse the public : if it was designed to confuse , it succeeded :after the S.A. “Citizen,sJury” rejection of the International dump, most South Australians believed the threat of a “Dump” for S.A. was over.

 Now many South , Australians believe that this proposed National dump must be quite different, a smaller proposal,necessary for low level medical waste only. I perceive because I have talked to hundreds of people, handing out information leaflets to passers by on the streets of Adelaide, over the last two years. I submit that the separating of the National and International dump proposals has been and is a deceitful strategy. Well known and influential Richard Yeeles submitted to the NFCRC that a National dump was a good strategy to lead eventually to an International dump. So this strategy is well known to government and industry leaders. But the distinct possibility of a National dump leading to an International dump is never admitted to the public, (especially not to people at Kimba or the Flinders Ranges). This is collusion at a high level to deceive the public. If it is the blind leading the blind it is not good enough when so much is at stake.


I also submit that the presentation of medical waste as the main purpose of a National dump is deceitful. Other submissions I am sure will give details of the small proportion of waste which is medical, and the fact that nuclear reactors are not necessary for producing isotopes for medical treatment Nuclear contamination has caused innumerable cancers and will continue to do so. People in contaminated districts can not forget this, but further away people wonder where their cancer comes from.

 4) CONFUSION OVER LEVELS OF WASTE In the early stages of the ARPANSA National dump campaign people were led to believe that it was for LLW only. Even politicians seemed to need to have it explained repeatedly that ILW was to be “co-located”.An inquiry should look at bringing Australian definitions of HLW and ILW into conformity with international definitions.


 Why is the definition of this only now being questioned? For an honest straight forward process it should have been defined at the outset. Leaving it vague has caused uncertainty, confusion, and ultimately angst and division in previously harmonious districts..Whoever decided that small remote townships should be targeted to become willing hosts for the most toxic waste ever produced, and to make a decision which would affect all of us and future generations for thousands of years? South Australian land and people have already suffered contempt and abuse from nuclear /military actions and we will not accept disenfranchisement now. Both State and Federal Govts. (lab and Lib), ape the Finnish with a mantra of “not imposing” on any unwilling community. But this is disingenuous. Finland is a nuclear nation reliant upon nuclear power, so a small local community can have some sense that it is acting in the public interest in hosting a dump. Most Australians do not want Australia to be further implicated in the nuclear fuel cycle:this is probably why we are not being asked about this dump, or given the relevant information. This is not democracy. Finland also has very different geology, with plenty of water and has an absolute veto on the transport of nuclear material across its borders (which we do not have).

This is not a local issue but a National and a State one.


Small communities are easier targets for bribery and this has been shameless, and benefit to the local community is the most often cited reason for local acceptance. Public money has also been used to fund paid staff to have a constant pro- dump presence in town,and a “local project office” in Kimba. This use of funds means that the pro-dump people in town are supported and can be seen as pillars of the community, positive in attitude, while those against lack funds and support except from volunteers. The current ICAN tour of remote nuclear sites and the target dump sites of Kimba and the Flinders Ranges , is in response to this isolation. ARPANSA has not and does not intend to appear in Adelaide to explain what they are presenting to Kimba and the Flinders communities. I recommend that they should complete an  inventory of what is intended before people can be expected to consider the proposal


This is the most serious defect of the ARPANSA campaign. Target communities of Kimba and the Flinders Ranges are being asked to make a decision on a project that is not described or defined. Attached is an appendix of questions asked of ARPANSA . After a year most of these questions are still not answered satisfactorily .They are basic questions about the waste and the need for an


All the local people who accept the dump proposal think that it is “safe”,although they do not know what it actually would or could be.(none of us do , it is an open ended process it seems). This is a result of ARPANSAs campaign to create a “perception “of “safety”, an example of which was their hosting of a French pro-nuclear delegation from the Aube. The mayor and others told locals at Kimba and the Flinders ranges how they felt comfortable living and producing near a nuclear waste store, and how tourists flocked to see it. No mention was made of France,s terrible problem with ist waste. When asked about the tritium that leaked(irreversibly) into the water system it was explained that this was only because the facility originally did not have a roof. So contamination and accidents belong to the past, and are not expected in the thousands of years of future storage.


“In its pursuit of a “willing community”within a year, ARPANSA is manufacturing consent in the same way as the S.A. NFCRC tried to do with its accompanying Road Show”, and the Citizens Jury. The techniques are quite usual nowdays but I submit they are inappropriate for major decision making. They include: -No genuine public meetings ie. No independent chair -Casual style consultation instead, with individuals usually addressed in ones or twos – -low attendance at ARPANSA consultations is normal, similar to roadshow”attendances -questions from the floor usually relegated to private discussion after the meeting.

In conclusion I submit that the site selection process shows pro-nuclear bias and avoids democratic scrutiny. Therefore an inquiry by the Senate into the process should not only condemn the process,but ask for a judicial inquiry into its inception and the basic assumptions it makes about Australia,s further nuclear involvement

. Mnemosyne Giles 2/4/2018


Further questions to ANSTO, ARPANSA & the DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION and SCIENCE (DIIS) from ENuFF (Everybody for a Nuclear Free Future SA)

It is a little over a year (Feb. 2017) since ENuFF requested answers to around 20 questions to the above three agencies seeking information about Australia’s radioactive waste. ENuFF received a reply in April 2017, signed off by Community Officer for the Radioactive Waste Management Team.

We wish to thank ANSTO, ARPANSA and the DIIS for their reply – not all of which was satisfactory- and to now ask further questions. Some of the questions (below) relate to the inadequacy of the answers and other questions are additional.

on behalf of ENuFF, is also engaged in a number of communications with representatives of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) Taskforce and ARPANSA in which he has high-lighted numerous flaws in the consultation process for the DIIS proposed facility.

From the outset of the current process, ENuFF has asserted that the question of what to do with the nation’s radioactive waste is an issue of all Australians, not only for those in the intended locality of the selected sites for a facility.

Question from Feb. 2017: The shipment of nuclear waste returned to Australia following reprocessing in France (late2015) was categorised by the French authorities as high-level waste (HLW). The SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission states Pg. 95 that reprocessed waste is highlevel. But ANSTO classifies this highly hazardous material intermediate-level waste (ILW). Why do Australian agencies responsible for nuclear waste mislead the public about radiation levels?

Additional questions relating to classification of waste: Is the level of 2 kilowatts (KW) of heat per cubic meter (m3) generated by radioactive waste required for it to be classified as HLW a level determined by the IAEA or by ARPANSA?

What was the amount of heat generated by the Lucas Height’s HIFAR reactor’s spent fuel prior to its transportation to France for reprocessing? (ANDRA reports that on arrival, the Australian spent fuel is placed in pools for further cooling, prior to reprocessing.)

In a document written by Fiends of the Earth Melbourne, titled and Nuclear Waste Dumping in SA (1994-2004) he refers to ANSTO acknowledging that Lucas Height’s spent fuel waste meets heat and radioactive criteria for classification as HLW. Green also says that the NSW EPA does likewise. ( Is this information correct?

Currently ILW is said to be stored at Lucas Heights in “special bins” and then place underground in shielded pits. How would highly hazardous ILW be ‘temporarily stored’ at the proposed NRWMF?

Comment: The waste intended to go to a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) is ‘legacy’ waste from the past 60 years. The development of research reactors at Lucas Heights occurred at the height of the Cold War and for the purpose of assisting the British to develop nuclear weapons, not medical isotopes. The failure of the DIIS and responsible agencies to explain why this ‘legacy’ waste was produced is to distort history and to wrongfully claim that production at Lucas Heights has been only for ‘beneficial purposes’ and, in particular, medical isotopes.

Additional question: Is it the case that the HIFAR and MOATA reactors used highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel, and that the current OPAL reactor uses low-enriched uranium (LEU)? How does spent fuel from reactors using HEU differ from reactors using LEU?

From what source(s) is the enriched uranium fuel for the OPAL reactor purchased and fuel rods assembled? And where was the highly enriched uranium fuel for the previous reactors sourced?

Question from Feb 2017: Would ANSTO explain how the radioisotopes in spent fuel from its research reactors (past & present) differ from that of nuclear power reactors?

The answer provided refers to heat generation only, and ignores the question of radioisotopes. Therefore, has the French authority provided a comprehensive inventory of fission products in the returned HIFAR reprocessed waste? If so, is this information publicly available? If not, why not?

Could ANSTO provide a measurement in Bequerals of the radioactivity of the returned waste?

The French agency AREVA reported that, “The liquor arising from HIFAR used fuel dissolution will be blended down with liquors from dissolution of commercial power reactor used fuel.” Does this not mean there would be no difference in the radioisotopes in the reprocessed spent fuel from either power or research reactors?

Question from Feb. 2017: Reprocessing of spent fuel cannot remove all fissile material: plutonium and uranium. Why then does information provided by ANSTO state that there is no fissile material remaining in the returned reprocessed waste? And, when will the agency correct this information?

A French representative from that country’s waste management authority ANDRA, in answer to our question (Pt. Augusta Feb. 2017) said that reprocessing removes up to 98% of fissile material. Does ANSTO still maintain that all fissile material is removed?

Question from 2017: Where is it intended to dispose of the remainder of Australia’s (radioactive) waste not currently held at Lucas Heights?

The answer provided states,” The plan is to move the waste specified to the NRWMF.”

Additional question: Where is it “specified”?

 Both General Manager of the NRWMT and Manager of Site Selection are on the record as saying that decisions about the type of waste to be stored at the facility are yet to be made. Could you clarify this further?

Comment: We understand that when the licence application for the proposed facility is made an inventory of the waste is required by ARPANSA. But for any reasonable and fair assessment by the public, an inventory is required NOW

Where did the 30m3 of ILW, including plutonium, temporarily stored at Woomera for the past 22- years originate? Is there any waste from Maralinga or Monte Bello stored at Woomera?

What radioactive waste from mineral sands processing, and what classification, is planned to end up in a NRWMF? Is current waste from mineral sands operations included in estimates of future radioactive waste?

We, therefore, request a full inventory of the radioisotopes classified by you as either ILW and LLW intended to be buried or ‘temporarily’ stored at a NRWMF, the current location of that waste and the source of the waste. The significant volume of waste which will arise from the full decommissioning of the HIFAR reactor also needs to be made public, as we assume that this too would end up at the facility.

Questions re the OPAL reactor: Why did ARPANSA approve the licence for this reactor 2007-2057, despite no long-term, deep-geological disposal plan, site or structure being in place for the reprocessed spent fuel from this reactor?

Is there a possibility that in the future OPAL generated spent fuel might not be transported overseas for reprocessing?

What percentage of the OPAL production of radioisotopes is for which sectors e.g. medical, engineering, defence, aerospace? And, as previously asked what radioisotopes are being produced by the OPAL reactor for research and/or other purposes? (We note that the French agency ANDRA provides a full waste inventory for the whole country every three years. Why then the lack of transparency in Australia?)

What is ANSTO’S current Australian Nuclear Medicine programme? What percentage increase in medical isotopes is planned, and is the expansion already occurring?

Has a business model for the expanded medical isotopes been conducted and, if so, is it publicly available?

 Would ANSTO provide a list of the fission and/or other radioactive isotopes in use in medical and civilian scans and X-rays such as in law courts, dentist surgeons, airports etc. and/or as tracers. Which of these products is produced by the OPAL reactor and/or other facilities at Lucas Heights. For example, which of the following radioisotopes are produced at Lucas Heights?

Cobalt 60; Cobalt 57; Xenon 133; Iodine 125,123,131,111; Gadolium 67, 153; Fluorine 18; Selenium 75; Krypton 81m .

Concluding comment: ENuFF considers that the communities at the possible NRWMF site at either Kimba or Hawker have been subjected to gross misrepresentation about the nature of a proposed NRWMF. The over-emphasis on medical derived waste, and the paucity of information about the totality and location of both LLW and ILW, cannot result in a valid public assessment of what a radioactive dump would necessitate.

 While the communities at Kimba and Hawker are being provided with seriously inadequate information, the remaining population of South Australia is completely in the dark about what is again being imposed upon this state. This is in spite of repeated rejection of similar proposals and the SA Prohibition of Radioactive Waste legislation.

We, therefore, request, in the near future, a detailed inventory of all radioactive waste being held in various locations around the nation and the classification of such waste, and an inventory of the waste intended for transportation to a NRWMF along what routes

. Written by on behalf of ENuFF. March 2018

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

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