Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) : strong Aboriginal resistance to nuclear waste dump plan

They [Government] are not telling the truth about the consultations, we know damn well they haven’t got broad community support. They’re not even talking about the broader community, they’re just talking about the few people in town who support it. There are lots more people out bush who don’t want the dump, it won’t just affect one area, its the whole of South Australia they need to talk to.” 

In areas struggling for funding for basic access to and upgrades of facilities, it is highly likely some community members will be swayed by income they would not otherwise receive.

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) (Submission No 71)  welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the inquiry into the site selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia.

 ANFA does not support the establishment of a national radioactive waste management facility and urges the government to look at all waste production and management options before imposing a facility on any community. 
The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) formed in 1997, bringing together Aboriginal people from across Australia with environmental non-government organisations and public health groups. The Alliance provides a platform for Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people around the country to raise their concerns with the nuclear industry. Many people involved are actively contesting the development of high-impact projects on their homelands; from uranium mines to radioactive waste dumps and fracking proposals. Since ANFA’s inception the scope of issues and the number of affected communities has grown. ANFA members now represent most Australian states and territories.
Many people have passed away, great people who spent too much of their lives fighting to protect their country. We remember and honour them and their love for country and community.
We have long memories; we remember the atomic weapons test at Maralinga and Emu Fields and the ongoing denial around the lost lives and health impacts for Aboriginal people. Many people were displaced from their homelands and there is still intergenerational sickness. There has been no justice following these horrific weapons testing programs despite the huge impact on human health and cultural disconnect. We remember the broken promises from uranium miners, the accidents, the leaks and the changes to our different countries.
A 2009 European Commission report1 recognises the significant global inequality resulting from the fact that 70% of the world’s uranium resources are located beneath the lands of Indigenous peoples while the consumers of the electricity produced from that uranium are in developed countries. ANFA is part of a strong history of Aboriginal resistance to the nuclear industry. Aboriginal-led campaigns in Australia have seen uranium mining projects halted and plans for a radioactive waste dump frustrated and stalled. The nuclear industry continues to target Indigenous land for poisonous projects and Aboriginal people continue to resist.
The industry and the government keep ignoring and dismiss the cost of this industry – we wonder who is going to count the loss of lives in the future to come, the cancers and sickness and the lands that have been polluted.
Kevin Buzzacott, Sue Coleman Haseldine, Adam Sharah, President Co-Chair Co-Chair Australian Nuclear Free Alliance 
a) The financial compensation offered to applicants for the acquisition of land under the Nominations of Land Guidelines Financial gain for the landholder/s of a single site is in no way an appropriate means of identifying a site for a radioactive waste management facility.
ANFA is deeply concerned that, as in the case of the proposed site at Wallerberdina Station in the Flinders Ranges, a site may be nominated by an absentee landlord with no ties to the local community and apparently no concern for the division and stress that the decision creates.
 In any case, financial gain for the landholder/s of a single site should not be the first step in a site selection process.
 In no way should the landholder/s of a single site profit from causing distress and division to a community, especially one rich in Indigenous culture and history.
b) how the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including: i) the definition of ‘broad community support’, and
The lack of a definition of “broad community support” is a significant cause for concern. To date, there is no definition of community and no definition of broad. It is unclear whether Traditional Owners not living in the area of a proposed facility will be considered to be part of the community.
 It is unclear how “broad community support” will be measured and by whom, despite claims by Minister Canavan of “majority support so far in the communities around Wallerberdina Station and Kimba”.
2 Geographical and cultural boundaries should be clearly defined before any site selection process begins.
ii) how “broad community support” has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage. Clearly, “broad community support” should be defined before it is measured.
 An Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) poll was undertaken in Kimba asking “Do you support a nomination for a site being progressed to Phase 2 for further consultation for a National Radioactive Low/Intermediate Level Waste Management Facility?”. It reported a 2
57% yes response. Despite this, a media release3 from the Minister for Resources Matt Canavan dated 27 June 2017 stated that “we now know that across the community there is broad support”. This survey did not include the specific views of the Traditional Owners from the area who should have been consulted from the start. 
The Adnyamathanha people, who are the Traditional Owners of the Barndioota site, and their representative body the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) have repeatedly expressed clear opposition. ANFA urges that the voices of Traditional Owners are heard and respected at an early stage in the process.
 Sue Haseldine-Coleman, a senior Kokatha-Mula woman and long time ANFA member whose lands have long been affected by the nuclear industry through historical weapons testing disputes claims of broad community support for the proposal and site: “They [Government] are not telling the truth about the consultations, we know damn well they haven’t got broad community support. They’re not even talking about the broader community, they’re just talking about the few people in town who support it. There are lots more people out bush who don’t want the dump, it won’t just affect one area, its the whole of South Australia they need to talk to.”
“The consultation process keeps coming back to South Australia. They tried here and people said no, they tried the Northern Territory and people said no. Now they’re trying here again and we’re still saying no. Not here, not anywhere.”4
The role of government as proponent is biased and has consistently been a cause for misleading or biased information. One of the major concerns is the misinformation that a national radioactive waste facility is necessary for nuclear medicine. Communities are being told that without the facility, people will miss out on treatment. This is patently untrue as people in Australia currently have access to nuclear medicine procedures 5 .
 The waste proposal has been a major cause of division and distress in the affected communities, with many instances of lifelong friends ceasing to speak over their stance on this issue.
Amongst the affected communities is skepticism about the research undertaken on behalf of the government. The April 2016 Department Of Industry, Science And Innovation National Radioactive Waste management Facility Community Sentiment Survey Wave 2 Report Of Findings undertaken by ORIMA Research6 claimed that 65% of the general population of the Barndioota community were not opposed to the process continuing. The Flinders Local
 4 2018, Coleman Hasledine, S., personal communication, April 7th.
 6 unity%20Sentiment%20Surveys%20Report.pdf
Action Group undertook their own survey of their community and found that only 16% of the community was not opposed.7
The definition of community is a key issue and should be clearly defined before any progress is made on a proposal.
 Recognition that local Aboriginal engagement with the siting process is vital and should be broad and respectful with a right to veto before the proposal progresses.
c) how any need for Indigenous support has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including how Indigenous support has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage;
ANFA has previously raised concerns about the far reaching powers of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act, including that the Aboriginal Heritage Act is not taken into consideration during the site selection phase.8
Several clauses within the Act are contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Australia endorsed in 2009. The Declaration has a provision promoting effective measures to be taken by the State, in regards to hazardous materials on Indigenous land. The Declaration reads: “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”9 The emphasis on the consent of Indigenous peoples is clear.
The Adnyamanthanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) has voiced its opposition to the siting of the facility on its land. In February 2017 ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard confirmed ATLA remains “totally opposed” to a nuclear facility at Barndioota. “The government said they would not put the dump where there was community opposition, well we oppose it and as the peak body for the Traditional Owners of the Flinders Ranges area, the government must stop this dump based on our opposition,” Mr Coulthard said.10
Given this, there should be no siting of a NRWMF on their land, and this conclusion should have been reached at the beginning of the process rather than subject the Traditional Owners of the land to the stress and division caused by it.
 In November 2015 a statement was released stating that “Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. The nomination was made public two weeks ago and
 7 FLAG_survey.pdf?1522717805
8 See Part 3 Selecting the Site for a Facility / 13 Application of Commonwealth Laws
9 1 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, art. 29(2):
even now, the government hasn’t contacted Yappala residents or Villiwarina Aboriginal Corporation. This is an insult.”11
 Adnyamathanha Elder Enice Marsh reinforced this position in May 2016, stating “I think it’s totally disrespectful that the government haven’t come to me or the Traditional Owners in the first instance or when they announced [that Barndioota was the only site shortlisted] on Friday.”12
The Traditional Owners of the Kimba area have told ANFA committee members that they have not been consulted in the site selection process at all.
Traditional Owners should be consulted before any nomination is accepted or made.
d) whether and/or how the Government’s ‘community benefit program’ payments affect broad community and Indigenous community sentiment; 
The community benefit program is perceived by many as a divide and conquer tactic. All sites currently under consideration are regional or remote. As with many such places, economic development and retention of residents is a matter of high concern. In areas struggling for funding for basic access to and upgrades of facilities, it is highly likely some community members will be swayed by income they would not otherwise receive.
 Indigenous members of the affected communities have reported a lack of transparency and accountability. They allege overpriced, shoddy workmanship was undertaken by government-selected tradespeople who spent much of the allocated funding on travel and associated costs. For the community benefit fund to actually benefit the community, local tradespeople should be prioritised by the recipients of the funding.
e) whether wider (Eyre Peninsula or state-wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring;
 The proposal is for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. As such, it is a national issue and ANFA believes that national views should be taken into consideration.
 All communities along potential transport routes should be informed and consulted, particularly First Nations peoples.
The current process lacks a definition of community. The definition of community and its boundaries should have been finalised before Phase 1 of the process, and not continue for, at this stage, almost three years.
11 15.pdf
f) any other related matters 
The three sites currently under consideration are all in South Australia. South Australia has legislation 13 that explicitly bans the establishment of radioactive waste management facilities. There is a lack of clarity and disclosure about how this legislation will be considered in the site selection process.
 There is no detail regarding the benefits (or costs) to communities where a site may be selected. There is a lack of information about how many jobs will be created, whether they are permanent, full time or part time and whether those jobs will go to members of the community or not.
Desktop studies purportedly undertaken prior to the Minister’s acceptance of a site nomination have not been made available to communities.
There has been no information regarding the possible costs to a community. This is in no small part due to the fact that the government is the proponent and consistently provides biased and misleading information. 
The Barndioota site in the Flinders Ranges is known to be a flood zone and subject to seismic activity. Any site nominated must be rejected on this basis before the nomination is formally accepted by the Minister and community consultation commences.
There is no justification for a radioactive waste management facility. ANFA strongly believes that an independent inquiry into the full ranges of options for management of the waste should be undertaken prior to subjecting any community to the stresses of a site selection process. This belief is echoed by environmental groups, faith groups, trade unions, Traditional Owners and others with whom we work.14
The 2017 national meeting of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, attended by over 100 Aboriginal community and civil society group representatives, unanimously agreed on a statement which read in part:
“Over the last twenty years, nuclear dump proposals in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have been met with fierce community resistance, despite the divide and conquer tactics employed by governments. Right now communities near Wallerberdina in the Flinders Ranges and Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula continue to resist plans for a federal radioactive waste dump. What part of no doesn’t the government understand? There is no reason why Australia’s waste needs to move from the Lucas Heights facility south of Sydney. There is sufficient space, nuclear expertise and high security there to allow
 13 ROHIBITION)%20ACT%202000.aspx 14
time for an independent review of the best future management options – communities and country do not need to be threatened or pressured.”
Section 7(d) of the guidelines states that “In addition, once the facility is operational, the Act requires a National Repository Capital Contribution Fund with a minimum of $10 million to be held in the fund and used for the purposes of providing enhanced public services and/or infrastructure in the relevant State and Territory. These Funds may be drawn upon once the facility is operational.” We are concerned that $10 million will be far less than the cost of having a disposal facility in any area. Loss of tourism income and jobs and impacts on export agriculture need to be accounted for, as well as the tangible and intangible losses to Aboriginal culture and heritage.
 Section A5 of the guidelines states that “At the site identification phase, there will be a focus on ensuring that any potential site will have minimal negative impact on nearby communities, while at the same time ensuring that they benefit from the placement of the facility”. How will negative impacts and any benefits be gauged? Will communities’ perspectives be taken into account? How will intangible losses be accounted for? How will “nearby communities” be defined and will that include all communities along the transport route?
The Flinders Ranges is an iconic tourism area, of high cultural and archaeological significance, a flood zone and subject to seismic activity. Wallerberdina is rich in Adnyamathanha history, including Australia’s first registered songline and many artefacts. Kimba is a prime export agricultural region. Transportation vast distances from Lucas Heights increases the risk to more members of the public along the transport route.
ANFA is concerned that the current inquiry into the site selection process is happening at the same time as the review of the ARPANSA Code for the Management of Solid Radioactive Waste (1992). We welcome the review of the Code and hope that it will ensure the best possible management option for solid radioactive waste. From the outset, the communities of the Flinders Ranges and Eyre Peninsula have voiced concerns that the interim storage of intermediate level waste that is part of the current proposal may in fact be changed to permanent disposal at the chosen site. The intermediate level waste should be kept at Lucas Height until the best possible disposal option is identified. It makes sense that this is done after the completion of the Code review.
The draft ARPANSA Code says that “disposal facilities “are not expected to provide complete containment and isolation of the waste forever”. Currently there are Department assurances to affected communities that imply otherwise. ANFA is deeply concerned about the long term impacts this may have on aboriginal culture and heritage.
References DIIS, RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT: Nominations of Land: Guidelines November 2016,

Australian Government,National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 No. 29, 2012 as amended, NGO, Critique of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, WMA-Report-FINAL-March-2017.pdf 20Community%20Sentiment%20Surveys%20Report.pdf 0-%2010%20October%202017_0.pdf UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, art. 29(2):

July 13, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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