Australian news, and some related international items

Defence Department accused of deception over Woomera radioactive wastes

Defence under attack on nuclear waste dump  LUKE GRIFFITHS @_LukeGriffiths DECEMBER 27, 2018

 Woomera must be revisited as a potential site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump, says Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, ­who accuses the Defence Department of deception over claims the site is unsuitable.

Senator Patrick said he would question Defence officials at Senate estimates hearings over why the department dismissed Woomera as a potential site because of an “intolerable risk” and its “impracticability” — a position since backed by Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

 The 122,000sq km Woomera Prohibited Area, located in the South Australian outback 450km northwest of Adelaide, is a milit­ary testing range under federal government control.

 Senator Patrick said significant nuclea­r waste materials had been stored there since 1994, including 10,000 drums of low and intermediate-level waste from a CSIRO research facility at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

In a report published on its website last week, the CSIRO said tests had found the material posed no threat to health or the environment.   Tests in May found radiation levels adjacent to the storage had “natural background values” for Australia, as would be found in typical soil and rock.

“The report findings make a mockery of Defence claims there’s no way a national radio­active waste management facility could be located anywhere in the enormous expanse of the WPA,” Senator Patrick said.
 “The reality is radioactive waste has been safely stored at Woomera for a quarter of a ­century. Defence can expect considerable scrutiny in the new year over the bureaucratic obfuscation and deception on this issue. It seems Defence is never stronger in defending territory than when it comes to defending its own.”

 Senator Canavan has short-listed two sites near Kimba, 465km northwest of Adelaide, and one site near Hawker, in South Australia’s mid-north, for the waste facility.

   The process, which has divided both communities, stalled after a Kimba ballot scheduled for August 20 was delayed by court action from an Aboriginal group that believes traditional owners should vote, despite not living within the shire’s boundaries.

 In a similar move, traditional owners at Hawker last week lodged an Australian Human Rights Commission complaint, prepared by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, that alleged a “fundamentally flawed process”.

   Labor has not said how it would proceed should it form government after the election, which must be held by mid-May.D    The Department of Defence did not respond to questions.


December 27, 2018 - Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies, South Australia

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