Australian news, and some related international items

Medical Association for Prevention of War – an urgent need for an independent inquiry into the production and management of Australia’s nuclear waste.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) Sue Wareham OAM MBBS Dr Margaret Beavis MBBS FRACGP MPH President Secretary Submission to Inquiry into the Selection Process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia

The appropriateness and thoroughness of the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia, noting the Government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community.

We will address the key issue of “Broad community support”, as we believe the information provided to communities has been misleading. It is not possible to have genuine community consent and a truly “willing community” based on inaccurate and incomplete information.

We will also raise concerns regarding “related matters”, addressing plans to massively increasing the future production of nuclear waste in Australia. There has been very poor process, information and community consultation about this issue also, and it will significantly impact on the community selected for the NRWMF due to markedly increased levels of long lived intermediate level waste being produced for the next 40 years.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) works for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of armed conflict. We promote peace through research, advocacy, peace education and partnerships. Our professional not-forprofit organisation has branches across Australia, and works globally through the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Nuclear waste is toxic material that can last for millennia, and despite billions of dollars of research over many decades there are still no safe long term solutions. As an organisation we support the creation of a Federal facility, but the current process is unacceptably flawed.

In summary our concerns are:


1) The NRWMF process as it stands is very divisive. Repeated, highly damaging processes imposed on previously cohesive communities are causing significant harms.

  1. Considerable amounts of persistently misleading information have been and continue to be presented to communities. Incorrect and incomplete information does not result in genuine consent or community support.
  2. In particular, despite many statements to the contrary, there is clear failure to observe international best practice standards for long lived intermediate level waste (ILW) management. There is no disposal plan whatsoever for ILW, which needs to be isolated from the ground water and the environment for 10,000-100,000 years, leaving the problem with many future generations of the affected community.
  1. The expansion will create 40 years of significantly increased production of ILW.
  2.  There is a lack of demonstrable “Net benefit” for the Australian community. The proposed expansion of medical isotope production needs genuine cost/benefit analysis to make sure this is not a heavily subsidised product being sold into the global market at the expense of the Australian community both now and in the future. Independent NEA/OECD economic modelling finds only 10-15% cost recovery of isotope manufacture when there is genuine inclusion of all costs.
  3. ANSTO has a narrative of global shortages, yet given falling demand and increasing global supply there is no shortage of Mo99 . The NEA/OECD predict a significant oversupply.
  4. 4) Again, there is no plan whatsoever for disposal of the additional long lived ILW generated. The current NRWMF process is just “kicking a highly radioactive can down the road”.

    Both processes are unacceptably flawed.

    MAPW urges

     Recognition that currently the information provided to communities is riddled with so much misinformation it calls into question the underlying validity of any community consent process.

     A halt to the current NRWMF process until such time as world’s best practice is followed. There is sufficient capacity at the Lucas Heights facility, once regulatory approvals are met, to store LLW and ILW well into the next decade.

    Cessation of expansion of nuclear medicine for export, and a phase out of exports, until there is demonstrated, publicly available, clear analysis of cost/benefit and plans for appropriate disposal of the substantial amount of ILW this process will generate.

     Transparent evaluation of “net benefit” to the Australian community. This as a whole must underpin the process, and be based on cradle to grave impacts of production.

    In closing, it is clear there is an urgent need for an independent inquiry into the production and management of Australia’s nuclear waste.

    Dr Beavis would be happy to appear before the committee if that would assist the inquiry. She is a GP with strong interest in public health issues, and teaches at the University of Melbourne in the areas of medicine, global health and nuclear waste.

June 13, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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