Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Annie McGovern: stop pretending that the Kimba nuclear waste dump is a”medical necessity”

 

Much of what you and the Public are told is that this is mostly about providing good medicine and
saving lives. According to the Medical Association for Prevention of War ‘Factsheet’:- “Less than 1%
is medical waste (radium and some disused sources). Most states and territories each only have a
few cubic metres of low level medical waste.

The current ploy of localising all the decision-making regarding this “National Waste Dump”, through
enticements of land procurement and localised funding, has placed this critically important process
at the level of a ‘sausage-sizzle deal’, highly inadequate for the responsibilities involved.

National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020
[Provisions]
Annie McGovern, Submission 83 To: Senate Standing Committees on Economics.
National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and
Other Measures) Bill 2020 (Provisions).

As stated in the support document accompanying this Bill, the Federal Government has been in the
process for the past 40 yearsof finding a site in Australia for the Dumping of Nuclear Waste. This Project has been presented bothas an independent National necessity and also as an associated proposal for an International
Industry for disposing of the world’s Nuclear Waste.

For those same 40 years the Australian people have continued to take the position that a Nuclear
Industry is a hazardous, uneconomical and unsustainable incursion into the stability of both National
and International interests, and that Australia should remain Nuclear Free.

Over time we have seen the steady erosion of the rights of the Public to express common will in
relation to industrial development in this country, and usurpation of decision-making of whether an
industry is desirable for the common good or is perceived as destructive and not in the best interests
of the Community or Environment. Clearly the Nuclear Industry falls into the latter category where
the balance of all the detrimental factors far outweigh the positive contributing factors.

The challenge of finding a disposal site is directly correlated to the resistance of allowing an easy
road for the Nuclear Industry to flourish, when it is seen to be both economically and
environmentally unsustainable. Agreement for conditions of disposal should occur when there is an
end in sight. When the Industry is shut down:- weapons, uranium and radioactive sand mining,
reactors and associated arms of the industry, then we are able to consider final disposal. With the
guarantee of no further production of this toxic and dangerous legacy there will be a genuine reason
to consider the disposal of what we have created. Until then, the current proposal is yet another
attempt to justify and legitimize a manipulative and dangerous industry, and to perpetuate its
attempts to grow in power.

The current ploy of localising all the decision-making regarding this “National Waste Dump”, through
enticements of land procurement and localised funding, has placed this critically important process
at the level of a ‘sausage-sizzle deal’, highly inadequate for the responsibilities involved.

A ‘cart-before-the –horse’ scenario occurs when acceptance of the site and facility is put before you
when there have been no Public Environmental Studies performed nor any detailed scrutiny of the
planned infrastructure. Community ratification has been achieved (minus the Indigenous Voice)
without a thorough investigation of the Impacts or ramifications of this site selection, with only an
assurance of what initial Economic gain the Community might make on this deal.

This over-simplification and commercialisation of such an important Project is reflected in the
inclusion of an extensive “Visitor’s Centre” at the site, as though it were a Tourist Attraction. This
attitude indicates a serious lack of awareness of how toxic and hazardous radioactive materials are
and a down-playing of the necessity for safe-guards that have also been eroded over the years.

Why South Australia? It is a well-known fact that the Nuclear Industry has its sites set on an
expansion of all levels of its activities, particularly in S.A. It is also a well-known fact that the people
of S.A. voted against the recent Royal Commission’s facilitation of a proposal to install an
International Radioactive Waste Dump in S.A. Its’ own State Legislation prohibits the development
of Nuclear Facilities so you as the National Senate Committee deliberating on this matter will override
the will of the people of S.A., unless you look below the surface of what you have been
proffered as justifications for this proposal.

Much of what you and the Public are told is that this is mostly about providing good medicine and
saving lives. According to the Medical Association for Prevention of War ‘Factsheet’:- “Less than 1%
is medical waste (radium and some disused sources). Most states and territories each only have a
few cubic metres of low level medical waste.”

Nuclear scans for investigating disease. These produce the vast bulk of medical nuclear waste. This is
short-lived and decays on the medical facilities’ premises until its activity is negligible. It is then
disposed of safely and appropriately in the usual manner of most waste (sewers, incinerators,,
landfill tips etc.) according to set standards.

Cancer treatment radiotherapy. Most radiotherapy uses x-rays or electromagnetic radiation which
do not produce any waste at all. A very small proportion of cancer treatment actually relies on
radioactive materials, which almost all decay rapidly. Longer lived sources must be returned to their
(overseas) sources when used up and so do not need local disposal.”

The Medical Associations for Prevention of War also supports a re-think on the production of
medical isotopes to manufacture the same product without generating radioactive waste.
“…Canada…is switching to non-reactor isotope production, which does not create radioactive wastes.

It goes on to explain: “There are broadly two areas in which radioactive material is used for medical
purposes:

Nuclear scans for investigating disease. These produce the vast bulk of medical nuclear waste. This is
short-lived and decays on the medical facilities’ premises until its activity is negligible. It is then
disposed of safely and appropriately in the usual manner of most waste (sewers, incinerators,,
landfill tips etc.) according to set standards.

Cancer treatment radiotherapy. Most radiotherapy uses x-rays or electromagnetic radiation which
do not produce any waste at all. A very small proportion of cancer treatment actually relies on
radioactive materials, which almost all decay rapidly. Longer lived sources must be returned to their
(overseas) sources when used up and so do not need local disposal.”

The Medical Associations for Prevention of War also supports a re-think on the production of
medical isotopes to manufacture the same product without generating radioactive waste.

“…Canada…is switching to non-reactor isotope production, which does not create radioactive waste.
In contrast, ANSTO is proposing to dramatically increase reactor isotope production to sell 30% of
the world market. As a result Australia will accumulate much more waste from international isotope
sales. Developing cyclotrons instead (like Canada) would eliminate waste from isotope production.”

To ply the Public with guilt-laden decision-making tools which are questionable and possibly wrong is
an underhanded way of bending peoples’ resolve. Clearly, Australia has choices of the way we
proceed into the future. It is not the right of a small group of often underinformed politicians or
vested financiers to force us into untenable industries. We, as a Nation already have enough
Radioactivity to deal with. The legacy of past mistakes and ones that today continue to add to the
problem, unseen, unchecked ‘til some day those hazards will also have to be dealt with. Roxby
Downs, Beverley, Ranger, Yeelirrie, Radium Hill, Honeymoon, Wiluna, Lucas Heights, Woomera and
Marlinga.

The Intermediate Level Waste is promoted as a temporary visitor to this site. Where is its’ long-term
repository? Is this yet another plan that has not yet been divulged? Where is the constraint, the
hazard reduction? The respect for the earth and its people that would cause decision-makers to
recognize that we gone too far?

It is a nightmare of what we already have to deal with, of decaying drums, of shipping highly toxic
huge stockpiles and dangerous goods across the country, of supervising this disposal for hundreds of
years into the future with only 100 years guaranteed by this plan.

Please see the deep and murky waters here and the lack of knowledge that lies at the bottom of
what you are being asked to authorize. There are no easy solutions or truly economically viable ones,
it will all be a cost.

Stop the Nuclear Industry now and then we will discuss what to do with the mess we have made.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this very important issue.
Annie McGovern.

 

April 21, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, health

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