Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

13 top Australian non government organisations say that the Kimba nuclear waste dump plan is illogical

There is no logic behind the proposal to move intermediate-level waste from interim above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to interim above-ground storage at the Kimba site. The proposed double-handling is illogical, it exposes communities to unnecessary risk, and ARPANSA’s Nuclear Safety Committee has indicated that it is not consistent with international best practice.

[ The group makes 10 excellent RECOMMENDATOINS to the Senate Committee]

Joint NGO Submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee Inquiry into National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 Submission 101
The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill amends the National Radioactive Waste Management Act to specify a site near Kimba in South Australia for a nuclear waste ‘facility’ ‒ a repository for low-level waste and an above-ground ‘interim’ (indefinite) store for long-lived intermediate-level waste.

The Bill is deeply flawed and should be rejected. Further, the existing Act is deeply flawed and should be repealed

Shamefully, the federal government excluded Barngarla Traditional Owners from a ‘community ballot’ held in 2019. Therefore the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation initiated a separate, confidential postal survey of Traditional Owners, conducted by Australian Election Company. This resulted in 100% of respondents voting ‘no’ to the proposed nuclear facility. If the results of the two ballots are combined, the overall level of support falls to just 43.8% of eligible voters (452/824 for the government-initiated ballot, and 0/209 for the Barngarla ballot) ‒ well short of the government’s benchmark of 65% for ‘broad community support’.

The proposal to proceed with the nuclear waste facility despite the unanimous opposition of the Barngarla Traditional Owners is unconscionable and must not be allowed to stand.

There is no consent from Barngarla Traditional Owners let alone free, prior and informed consent. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Act systematically disempowers and dispossesses Traditional Owners, and the Amendment Bill worsens the situation and strips Traditional Owners of their legal review rights. Legal advice in a Feb. 2020 report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights notes that the Bill “would enable native title to be extinguished, without the consent of the traditional owners”, and it raises further concerns about the Bill’s intention to permit the acquisition of land for an access route without any Parliamentary oversight or right of appeal.

The Act, the Bill, and the proposed nuclear waste facility are all inconsistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) has said that Australia’s historically “racially discriminatory land practices have endured as an acute impairment of the rights of Australia’s indigenous communities”. Imposing a nuclear waste facility on Barngarla Country will clearly exacerbate the problems identified by the CERD Committee.

In 2017, the CERD Committee expressed concern “about information that extractive and development projects are carried out on lands owned or traditionally owned by Indigenous Peoples without seeking their prior, free and informed consent” and recommended that Australia “ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is incorporated into the Native Title Act 1993 and in other legislation as appropriate, and fully implemented in practice”.

The proposed nuclear waste facility is illegal under South Australia’s Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act, introduced by the SA Liberal Government in the year 2000 and strengthened by the SA Labor Government in 2002. The federal government is expected to take the draconian and unacceptable step of using regulations to specifically override the SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act. South Australians are opposed to the proposed nuclear waste facility: a 2015 survey found just 15.7% support for a nuclear waste dump, and a 2018 survey found that those who strongly agreed with stopping the dump outnumbered those who strongly disagreed by a factor of three (41:14).

Only 4.5% of South Australia is arable land. It is of deep concern that a radioactive waste could be allowed to jeopardise the Eyre Peninsula’s agricultural industries. Indeed the government’s proposal is a clear breach of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s ‘Code of Practice for Near-Surface Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Australia’ which states that “the site for the facility should be located in a region which has no known significant natural resources, including potentially valuable mineral deposits, and which has little or no potential for agriculture or outdoor recreational use”.

Measured by radioactivity, long-lived intermediate-level waste currently stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site in NSW accounts for an overwhelming majority (>90%) of the waste destined for the nuclear waste facility in SA. There is no logic behind the proposal to move intermediate-level waste from interim above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to interim above-ground storage at the Kimba site. The proposed double-handling is illogical, it exposes communities to unnecessary risk, and ARPANSA’s Nuclear Safety Committee has indicated that it is not consistent with international best practice.

Recommendations:
1. The Senate Economics Legislation Committee should recommend the withdrawal or rejection of the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 (in which case a number of following recommendations are redundant) and repeal of the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Act.
1. The Committee should recommend repeal of the NRWM Act 2012 Section 12(1)(c) & 13(1), and of the Bill’s sections 34GA(1)(c) and 34GB(1), as unacceptable draconian overrides of existing State and Commonwealth legal protections for Indigenous people’s heritage and traditions.
2. The Committee should undertake a review of the potential impacts of the existing Act, the proposed amendments, and the proposed nuclear waste facility, on Aboriginal rights, interests and traditions. This should include consideration of the impacts of the government potentially issuing a Regulation to override the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, so as to impose the nuclear waste facility over State law.
3. The Committee should assess the compatibility of the Act, the Bill and the proposed nuclear waste facility with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in particular the principle of free, prior and informed consent.
3. The Committee should recommend that the federal government adopt the proposal from then SA Premier Jay Weatherill in 2017 that traditional owners should have a right of veto over any proposed nuclear waste facility on their lands. Mr. Weatherill’s letter noted that “Aboriginal people’s history with the nuclear industry demonstrates a need for significant healing” and it noted the SA Labor Government’s policy that a right of veto would apply to any comparable state initiative.
4. The Committee should investigate the government’s plan to move intermediate-level waste from above-ground interim storage at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site to above-ground interim storage near Kimba, for no logical reason and despite the obvious inefficiencies and risks associated with this double-handling of nuclear waste.
5. The Committee should seek advice from the regulator ARPANSA as to whether the proposed double-handling of intermediate-level waste is consistent with national and international standards and what ARPANSA’s approach will be to a licence application that proposes double-handling.
6. Given that the government has consistently failed to provide any logical justification for double-handling of intermediate-level waste, the Committee should recommend that intermediate-level waste stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site should remain there until a long-term solution is realised.
7. The Committee should recommend withdrawal or rejection of the Bill on the grounds that the government’s own benchmark for broad community support has not been met (43.8% support among eligible voters in the combined ballots).
8. The Committee should recommend that the Bill is withdrawn, and the federal government’s nuclear waste agenda put on hold, until such time as public opinion among other relevant stakeholders is determined (including state-wide opinion in SA and opinion along potential transport corridors).
9. The Committee should recommend repeal of section 13(1)(b) of the Act, and withdrawal or rejection of section 34GB (1)(b) of the Bill, both of which seek to compromise and undermine operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

10. The Committee should seek independent expert advice regarding the Federal Government’s claim that 45 jobs will be created at the facility. That job figure is deeply inconsistent with comparable facilities overseas and it assumes that Australian workers are at least 10 times less productive than workers at comparable facilities overseas. Successive federal governments have claimed there would be zero, six or 15 jobs, and the current figure of 45 jobs is implausible.
Signatories:
Australian Conservation Foundation, Dr Paul Sinclair, Campaigns Director
Friends of the Earth Australia, Dr Jim Green, National Campaigner
Greenpeace Australia-Pacific, Mr David Ritter, CEO
Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Dr Margaret Beavis, National Secretary
Mineral Policy Institute, Charles Roche, Director
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, Ms Vicki McCabe and Mr Dwayne Coulthard, Co-chairs
Queensland Conservation Council, Ms Louise Matthieson, Director
Conservation Council of WA, Mr Piers Verstegen, Director
Conservation SA, Mr Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive
NSW Nature Conservation Council, Mr Chris Gambian, CEO
Environment Victoria, Mr Jono La Nauze, CEO
Environment Centre of the Northern Territory, Ms Shar Molloy, Director

Arid Lands Environment Centre, Mr Jimmy Cocking, CEO

May 12, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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