Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Leon Ashton lays bare Australian govt hypocrisy, double-talk, lies , in its process for selecting nuclear waste dump site

I am not against having a LLW facility in Australia. I am against the way in which DIIS have gone about finding a quick fix for something that will affect all South Australians for centuries to come.  It should not be up to a small council area to overrule our Prohibition Act 2000, if we are to vote for something of such national importance. I would have thought that after having had something like 35 attempts over some 25 years to find a suitable location, that DIIS would have been able to involve public consultation a lot more honestly
 
It is a fine line between informing a community and bribing a community. And to what end ,? I strongly suggest that before any community has to endure what Hawker, Quorn and Kimba twice now is going thru, that a much higher percentage of community support be obtained. IE 80 -85% and this would include all traditional custodians and neighbours.
My problem is a complete lack of trust with DIIS in the way in which they have treated ordinary people from Quorn, Hawker and Kimba (both the first and the second time around). The proven “flawed” survey results, the terrible anguish that has been placed on the traditional custodians of this land, the countless unpaid hours of research to try to establish the actual volumes of legacy low-level waste at hospitals around the country compared to the volumes of intermediate level waste to be “temporarily “ stored at the chosen site.
Leon Ashton Submission to STANDING COMMITTEE ON ECONOMICS
SENATE ENQUIRY SUBMISSION FOR THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR A NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT FACILITY IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. (Submission No. 79)
My name is Leon Ashton I live at Quorn with my wife on a small 12 acre holding we bought in 2009, intending to have a peaceful life in between doing contract work on the Nullarbor Plain and up to Alice Springs.
In December 2015 I first received knowledge that Wallerberdina Station had been put up for consideration for a nuclear waste dump to be built there.
I attended an information gathering meeting in the Quorn council chambers and was told by the people who came over from Canberra that this would be a low level only facility. This was also told to the people at Hawker. See attachment A. extract by political reporter Jane Norman, and was shown photos of similar facilities, both in France and in England, however, they said these two facilities housed an amount of intermediate level waste (ILW) as well as low level waste (LLW).
The next meeting was in the Quorn Town Hall in February 2016. It was then announced, because a member of the public raised the question, that there could possibly be a small amount of ILW stored there, but only on a temporary basis. It wasn’t until much later, when the LLW and more dangerous ILW temporarily stored at Woomera, started leaching out into the surrounding area, that DIIS employees said this will all be, once safely packaged up (29 million dollars’ worth) sent to the new waste facility. Our low-level facility is fast becoming a temporary intermediate waste facility.
MR GRANT CHAPMAN
I also struggle with the fact that an ex-Senator from South Australia, Mr Grant Chapman, also ex deputy chairman of the Board of Directors at Lucas Heights and co-owner of Wallerberdina Station, could put up his property as a protentional nuclear waste dump site, with no consultation whatsoever with anyone in the surrounding area. He was also quoted as saying, in a newspaper, that it is okay also if they want to put a high-level waste dump there as well. (See Attachment B  – on original) To this day he has not appeared anywhere in a public meeting to explain his actions to his neighbours or the traditional custodians. He has never lived on this property. He is the absent landlord. Is this in keeping with “world’s best practice”? In the many meetings I had with DIIS staff at Quorn in 2016, I was told yes, this part of the process could have been done much better and they would do it differently now Kimba has nominated two more potential sites. This is the second time Kimba has been divided as a community. The process that is being carried out competing one community against another in a bid to “host the facility” is causing irreparable damage to the people who are both for the dump and against it.

THE NEED TO DETERMINE BROAD COMMUNITY SUPPORT

In April 2016, a community sentiment survey was completed by DIIS through a company called ORIMA Research. This 205-page detailed report can be accessed on line. I attended another information gathering meeting at Quorn council chambers in April 2016, along with several other residents, to voice our concern. A member of our group voiced their concern at how the community survey was conducted and the methodology behind it. We all then heard a senior DIIS member tell us, yes, the community survey was flawed in some places, however we will still be going ahead with the next stage, into Phase 2, i.e. more information giving sessions to the public and looking at cultural and geological site compatibility.

I had, in April 2016, during my regular information gathering, monthly meetings, with DIIS staff, obtained a copy of the community survey conducted by Orima Research and spent the next 9 months trying to understand it. No one I approached could understand it either. I was trying to determine how 65% of the community were accepting of finding more information on the proposed facility, when almost all people I spoke to were totally against putting a dump in the Flinders Ranges.
I finally found a person who is a Registered Psychologist and has studied university level statistics along with survey research during her 40-year career who, after three days studying the Orima Survey book, gave me the results of her findings. (See Attachment C – Informal Comments on the ORIMA Research Findings  – on original ). As you can see, these comments identifies serious flaws and cast significant doubts on the validity of the survey.
In October 2016, our now formed group, Flinders Local Action Group, conducted our own survey by mail, to residents in Hawker and Quorn, asking people if they would want a national radioactive waste facility built on Wallerberdina station. The results obtained were that 87% of forms returned were against a dump. We ensured that the survey forms returned were opened and scrutineered in front of a J.P. I might add that the survey that FLAG conducted was at no cost to the tax payer what so ever and none of us had done anything like this before. (See Attachment D – Survey from Flag – on original).
DISUNITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITIES
I have written many letters to The Minister for The Environment and Northern Territory, outlining the fact that there definitely is a lot of disunity, both here and in Kimba. Most of the traditional custodians are united in their stand against this facility, however, the ones who are in favour are causing huge disruptions to their own families where 1/ Stress and harassment has caused people to be flown by RFDS to Adelaide with life threatening ailments and 2/ Threats have been made to other family members at one or two o’clock in the morning advising them to change their attitude and support the waste dump. 3/ There have also been phone calls to these people saying that if they change their mind and vote for the dump, then houses and vehicles could be bought for them.
When the May newsletter from DIIS was distributed around Quorn ,Hawker and Kimba, it was said by the Viliwarinah Yura Aboriginal Community chair how the community views the project ( see attachment E extract from May 2017 DIIS newsletter ) It says the majority of our community would like the facility to go ahead and at a recent special meeting VYAC held a ballot for the project and 85% of members who voted were in favour .This information sent to the public to boost public support was grossly misleading. Out of the total of one hundred and one eligible VYAC members who could vote,only 28 voting members attended a meeting at Port Augusta. Out of the 28 people who attended, 13 members left leaving 10 people to vote in favour, three to say no and two to abstain. This does not make 85% of the Viliwarinha Yura people who are in favour. I also advised the Minister that in Quorn, Hawker and Kimba, people who were once mates, now would cross the streets rather than talk to one another.
Please find below the response I received back from Matt Canavan dated 27 May 2017.

[ “I understand there are a range of views within the community and the government encourages respect for all opinions. In my visit to the region and thru feedback from my department, I do not share your view that there is disunity in the area, or a need for assistance to support the community because of division.“ ] Mr Canavan could not possibly share my view because the people who were opposed to putting the waste dump in this area were told they could not have any time with him at all to discuss concerns face to face as he was too busy.?

Does this appear to be in keeping with “world’s best practice”.

TOURISM IN THE REGION

The information which is being given by DIIS almost makes us feel obligated as citizens, that it is our duty to accept a waste facility in our backyard. We are informed constantly that we have had or will have at some point in the future, a procedure involving nuclear medicine.
The problem I’ve struggled with is why put it here in South Australia when SA in 2016 was cited as the 5th best place to visit for tourism in the world and then four weeks later, the Flinders Ranges (the area where the site is proposed) was acclaimed as No. 10 most popular tourist destination in the world. These references came from The Times newspaper and The Lonely Planet Tourist Guide. Why would we jeopardise a 300 million dollar annually, tourist industry in the Flinders Ranges and Outback ( Quoted from Tourism SA 2015 ) by “hosting” a nuclear waste dump almost in the heart of it? Does this sound as if it is “world’s best practice”? When these questions are raised with DIIS, the response is always, we believe it will make the Flinders Ranges more of a tourist attraction and if tourist numbers do decline in years to come, then we will start an advertising campaign. Really !!
I have responded by saying once it is put there, it is too late. Tourists DO NOT come to the Flinders Ranges other than to see the “untouched” beauty of this iconic, ancient, natural landscape. The people of Kimba are also struggling as the Eyre Peninsula is trying to promote the region as a clean green environment for agriculture, tourism and aquaculture. From 2010, RDAWEP Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula have endorsed this policy .

FUTURE EMPLOYMENT

We are informed by DIIS that there will be at least 15 full time job equivalents at the waste facility and yet when we look at every other industry, they are so tightly regulated, especially in areas of danger, it is only a matter of time before robotics also take over positions in this facility. This is the way of the future, so why would we trust people who are verbally telling us that we have nothing to worry about, the jobswill be there. I might add, that since January 2016, there have been at least five, possibly six key staff members from DIIS who have either left the Department or moved onto other positions. This does not allow continuity to the people they speak with and does not inspire confidence in what they are telling us. For example, I asked an employee of DIIS when they came to Quorn for the monthly gathering, what would DIIS do if the SA government citizens jury won the vote against having a HLW (high level waste) dump in South Australia. The employee told me DIIS would honour the SA Prohibition Act and walk away from it all. The next month I was told this would never happen and the Federal Government would overrule the Prohibition Act and carry straight on, as they have done. The employee who told me they would walk away, no longer works in that department.

We are now hearing news that changes could be made to the voting area. If the voting area could be reduced in size, it may increase the chances of a more favourable decision for the facility to go ahead. DIIS has said since 2016, a facility would not proceed unless it had “Broad Community Support”. We are now informed this will not necessarily be the deciding factor. Does this appear to be in keeping with “world’s best practice”?

ARPANSA have a guideline for prospective nuclear waste dump sites in Australia. The first three pre-requisites are 1. No seismic activity 2. Not flood prone and 3. Must have broad community support. Wallerberdina ticks all the boxes for where NOT to put it. I have stated before in writing that ANSTO are possibly the best people in the world to manage the waste storage at Lucas Heights.

My problem is a complete lack of trust with DIIS in the way in which they have treated ordinary people from Quorn, Hawker and Kimba (both the first and the second time around). The proven “flawed” survey results, the terrible anguish that has been placed on the traditional custodians of this land, the countless unpaid hours of research to try to establish the actual volumes of legacy low-level waste at hospitals around the country compared to the volumes of intermediate level waste to be “temporarily “ stored at the chosen site. Also, other creditable proven facts on the geology, seismic and flood plain area. See attachment F ( Geological and Environmental Implications of a nuclear waste disposal site in the Barndioota area ) We now know that the facility will be one to temporarily store ILW, not what I was told back in January 2016. We also know that this ILW will be temporarily stored above ground until a HLW facility is chosen either in Australia or overseas sometime into the millennia. We have been told that the cost to permanently find a site for ILW to be buried deep below ground would be massive and to do this by itself would be cost prohibitive. If no HLW site is chosen by us, as we don’t have HLW in Australia, then we will be leaving a hell of a mess for our future children to sort out.

OUTCOMES TO DATE AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE

I am not against having a LLW facility in Australia. I am against the way in which DIIS have gone about finding a quick fix for something that will affect all South Australians for centuries to come. It should not be up to a small council area to overrule our Prohibition Act 2000, if we are to vote for something of such national importance. I would have thought that after having had something like 35 attempts over some 25 years to find a suitable location, that DIIS would have been able to involve public consultation a lot more honestly. The massive cost to the taxpayer to find a “ willing community to host a waste facility ”.It is a fine line between informing a community and bribing a community. And to what end ,? I strongly suggest that before any community has to endure what Hawker, Quorn and Kimba twice now is going thru, that a much higher percentage of community support be obtained. IE 80 -85% and this would include all traditional custodians and neighbours. I don’t feel that there will ever be a 100 % of community support for such a contentious issue however, if there was genuine feeling to have a” low level waste “ facility , [ no bullying .no bribes. No lies or manipulation.] then if the region as a whole felt it was a good thing to have, then I too would support it. There will never be a harmonious spirit within a community when 65% is used as a percentage of people who want the dump. Even if it was a genuine 65% The people of Quorn, Hawker and Kimba have seen first-hand how a marginal percentage can ruin lives and friendships forever.

It is for the above reasons that I believe DIIS need to scrap their prospective low-level waste dump locations and have a complete rethink in conjunction with other associations to try and rebuild a level of trust for what they are putting to the public before entering into public consultation.

 

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June 15, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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