Australian news, and some related international items

Michele Madigan – update on the struggle against nuclear waste dumping in the Flinders Ranges

Marchers unite against federal nuclear dump, Michele Madigan, 26 August 2018

There were, to quote Port Augusta’sTranscontinental,‘hundreds ‘ of us crossing the bridge on Sunday 19 August, the ‘younger generations’ in the forefront. The glory of the Flinders Ranges were well in sight to our east, the international grain farming land of Kimba 158km to the southwest. The constant cry ‘Not Flinders, Not Kimba, No waste dump is our call’ rang out.

Among the powerful speeches that followed were Harry Dare’s stirring words quoted above, as well as a spellbinding address by young Adnyamathanha woman, Candace Champion, who said: ‘I do not want to bring a child into this world knowing that I’m going to leave them more burdens and heartbreak … You can study your whole life in a classroom, but my family have studied, witnessed, watched and grown on that land for 60,000 years.’

In recent weeks there have been many developments in the federal government’s plan for a national radioactive waste management ‘facility’. In time for the planned vote by a tiny percentage of those who will be impacted by the site selection, the Resources Minister, visiting both regions, tripled to $31 million the amount which the federal government is offering the final site community. And instead of 15 promised jobs, there are now 45.

Paradoxes abound. The $31 million includes $3 million allocated for ‘Aboriginal economic and cultural heritage’ — awarded for a project which many Adnyamathanha say will destroy the Aboriginal culture of the region.

The proposed facilities design finally appeared three years into the campaign. In online form originally, the 18 new government documents, rejoicing in a ‘brand new industry’ for the chosen site area, were posted to each householder in time for the beginning of the proposed ballot date, which was to have been 20 August.

Catholic Religious Australia’s 1 August media release raised many questions and concerns: ‘Our members,’ said president Sr Monica Cavanagh, ‘question the sense, the expense and the risks of transporting long-lived intermediate nuclear waste from where it is temporarily housed at Lucas Heights with the nuclear experts, 1700km across the country to be temporarily stored in a regional, yet to be built, facility.’ Furthermore, ‘It is disturbing that it is not clear how long the intermediate level waste will be simply stored at this temporary site as there is no plan for its permanent disposal.’

Over the past months the Senate Inquiry called by Centre Alliance South Australian Senator Rex Patrick received 40 pro/58 against submissions. Hearings took place in Kimba and the Flinders in July. On 2 August, various government bodies were required to appear at the Canberra hearing — with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth environmental experts denied access.

Some of the farmers, Traditional Owners and others who oppose the nuclear facility/storage have, for months, been asking government personnel for a formal debate locally, held between the proponent experts and those opposing. What did eventuate? The government’s preferred method: a webinar with no uncomfortable audience presence. The government’s preferred site: the 21st floor of a Sydney building, 1500km away from both regions.

During that 10 August debate Bruce Wilson, principal government advisor, repeated his assurances that worldwide there has never been an accident in the transport of nuclear waste. It’s puzzling why someone would make such a categorical statement. Friends of the Earth’s Dr Jim Green pointed out that in the UK for example there are an average of 19 such incidents annually; in France there are 100.

On 14 August the Barngarla lifted proceedings to another level. Arguing that native title-holders who live outside the municipal borders of Kimba should be included in the Kimba postal ballot, the Barngala applied for and obtained an injunction.

On 23 August, the Eyre Peninsula Tribune reported‘The Supreme Court of South Australia adjourned the matter of Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation v Kimba District Council with the two parties now scheduled to participate in conciliation in the [Human Rights] commission at a date yet to be determined.’

In the meantime the Department, in consultation with both councils, agreed to suspend the proposed ballots for the nominated sites until that matter is resolved.

In the 26 August ministry reshuffle, Senator Canavan retained his portfolio. As Resources Minister, he often repeats his assurance: ‘Australia’s nuclear waste facility will not be imposed on an unwilling community.’ The marchers across the Port Augusta Bridge wore T-shirts and bore banners printed with a single word: UNWILLING.

The campaign continues.





August 31, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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