Australian news, and some related international items

The shambles of the Australian government’s Kimba nuclear waste dump plan

Craig Wilkins: This waste will be temporarily parked in above-ground sheds at Kimba

A nuclear dump at Kimba will not just see low level radioactive medical waste introduced to the Outback, writes Craig Wilkins. It’s time to tackle the misinformation.

There is clearly a lot of misinformation about the proposed nuclear waste dump at Kimba.

Caleb Bond thinks it’s a mystery that anyone can oppose a low-level nuclear waste dump (“Opinion”, The Advertiser, 4/2/20). The real mystery is how Mr Bond can think it’s just a low-level waste facility.

It’s not.

In fact, there are two separate proposals located side by side. As Mr Bond says, one is for low-level, lower-risk waste. But the other is for long-lived, intermediate-level waste – a far more dangerous proposition.

The intermediate-level waste includes spent fuel reprocessing waste from nuclear reactors at the Lucas Heights site south of Sydney, which needs to be kept safe from humans for 10,000 years. To put it in context, that’s twice as old as the great pyramids in Egypt.

It’s the genuine health and environmental risks from this intermediate-level waste that people are concerned about.

Not just a few hospital gloves and gowns. In fact, the risk is so acute that some countries actually classify this waste as “high-level”.

International best practice is for intermediate and high-level waste to be permanently buried deep underground. But that’s not what is proposed for Kimba. Instead, this waste will be temporarily parked in above-ground sheds while the authorities then start working out the best site for permanent burial.

Surely it makes sense to decide on the final resting place first before shifting the waste.

Especially as there is no particular urgency to remove it from its current secure storage at Lucas Heights.

Alongside this lack of forward planning, the promises of jobs and money go up and down like a yoyo, and the consultation process has excluded many – including the Barngarla traditional owners who hold native title over the land.

Shamefully, the Federal Government refused a request from Barngarla traditional owners to be included in a community ballot held last year. And when the Barngarla conducted their own poll, not a single traditional owner voted in favour. Moreover, the proposal itself is illegal under South Australian law.

For these reasons, many people remain deeply concerned. As so many questions remain, it makes sense for the SA Parliament to conduct a full, open inquiry into the proposal to clear up exactly what is proposed. And how much benefit, if any, will flow to the Kimba community.

Until then, organisations such as mine will support the community as it seeks answers from a process that has so far failed them. And we will continue to support the Barngarla traditional owners, whose opposition has been ignored.


February 7, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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