Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Sue Woolford recommends the Canadian model for selecting a Nuclear Waste Facility Site

I would like to draw the committee’s attention to the Canadian leading example which has
empowered communities to self-nominate for assessment in a long-term process called
“Adaptive Phase Management”2 ensuring trust is being gained in communities prior to any
final site selection for radioactive waste disposal in a deep geological repository over a long
established timeline.

I could not support the proposal as it stands.

The Kimba District Council has not done its due diligence to request an an independent risk analysis for the people it
represents

Sue Woolford SUBMISSION TO SENATE ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
RE: Inquiry into the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site
Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions]  Submission No 91

I would like to put forward my personal views on how acceptance of this Bill would be doing
an injustice to the responsible management of radioactive waste in Australia.
I am critical of this current process but not the value of nuclear medicine and the need to
find the right long term solution to benefit all Australians. I have advocated for a fair and
transparent process that instils trust in the public domain and believe that the National
Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 and this Bill need to have proper assessment to
deliver to all Australians a morally and legally acceptable Act with lessons learnt.

The government department responsible have initiated a consultation and site selection
process under the current Act but have not truly engaged meaningfully with all
stakeholders. Standards have not conformed alongside the principles of the International
Association for Public Participation1 (IAP2) and the spectrum of public participation which is
used internationally.

I believe if more of these principles were applied to provide objective information and listen
to feedback then the key challenges to site the nations radioactive waste into a central
location with community confidence would be taken to a new level of credibility and
assurances. My submission deals with finding the right solution instead of a second rate
option in my hometown.

Currently, I don’t believe the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 has
allowed for the best and safest sites to be voluntarily put forward. The extinguishment of
Native Title holder’s rights and the Commonwealth having the authority to override states
and territories has only confirmed that the Australian example is inconsistent with world’s
best practice and is an abominable act that takes away rights of review to ensure a fair and
transparent process.

I would like to draw the committee’s attention to the Canadian leading example which has
empowered communities to self-nominate for assessment in a long-term process called
“Adaptive Phase Management”2 ensuring trust is being gained in communities prior to any
final site selection for radioactive waste disposal in a deep geological repository over a long
established timeline.

1 http://www.iap2.org
2 https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Canadian-organisation-sets-out-long-term-repositor 27th
March 2020.

This fine example of overseas experience embraces community’s rights to making an
informed decision by adopting a right of veto and allowing time to digest all aspects of the
proposal. This in effective gives trust to all community members of the municipalities.
Recommendation: Committee to investigate the guiding principles and site selection
process that Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has
implemented. There is an opportunity to improve and deliver changes to repeal our current
National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 and use international experience to
deliver a responsible radioactive waste management plan for all Australians that
acknowledges and respects all.

NWMO Guiding Principles1
• Focus on safety
• Meet or exceed regulatory
requirements
• Informed and willing host
community
• Right to withdraw
• Siting process led by interested
communities
Aboriginal rights, treaties and land
claims
• Shared decision making
• Inclusiveness
• Support capacity building
• Informing the process

• Community wellbeing
• Ongoing engagement of
governments

The Welcome to Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2020 to 20242 is the five-year
strategic plan for the NWMO which introduces a ground-breaking Indigenous Knowledge
Policy and new Reconciliation Policy. Much could be learnt if Australia adopted these same
principles of meaningful engagement building respectful relationships, and obtaining the
free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic
development projects as laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples.

Further decades of lessons learnt on constructing the first ever disposal facility in Finland
provides some important advice like the comments of Jussi Heinonen in the IAEA
(International Atomic Energy Association) Bulletin3.

Social acceptance and social factors play a crucial role in site selection,” said Jussi
Heinonen, Director of the Nuclear Waste Regulation and Safeguards Department at
Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). “Social acceptance relates to trust
for the implementer, regulator and decision makers. This trust has to be built and
maintained.”

As you can see trust is the essential element in ensuring an answer to radioactive waste
management globally. I hope your committee can take heed of these suggestions and
investigate implementing changes.

1 https://www.nwmo.ca/en/Site-selection/About-the-Process/Guiding-Principles
2 https://www.nwmo.ca/~/media/Site/Reports/2020/03/06/19/17/NWMO-Implementation-Plan-
202024.ashx?la=en
3 https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/developing-the-first-ever-facility-for-the-safe-disposal-ofspent-
fuel July 10th 2019.

Back to the current proposal before you and given that the government has failed to
provide me with all the information to make a logical and fully informed decision I could not
support the proposal as it stands. There have been many instances where requests have not
been met. This lack of trust has been heightened because an independent risk analysis was
not provided like was facilitated by the Flinders Ranges Council for the site at Wallerberdina.

The Kimba District Council has not done its due diligence to request one for the people it
represents This highlights the inability to represent its community members to obtain
factual information against only what the department released. Overseas experience shows
money was set aside for affected groups to do their own studies.

The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science released an Economic Impact
Assessment1 by Cadence Economic only over 30 years when we all know the projected
timeline is much larger than this. This was very misleading and needs justification. No
detailed business case, no idea who is operating the facility or impact of automation and job
numbers, no say in the design processes or any proven justification for the double-handling
of intermediate-level waste, are just a few missing components in the Australian
government approach.

It has been apparent that Kimba on productive farm land is not the best site in Australia
through reports by AECOM stating barriers and mitigation procedures are necessary.
Examples at Mt Walton in WA who already manage their own radioactive low level waste is
site specific for the safest disposal of its waste underground.

Visiting US expert on nuclear waste, former Obama Administration adviser Professor Allison
Macfarlane who I had the pleasure of meeting in Kimba, presented her views in her position
as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Applied Public Policy in South Australia at a lecture at
Flinders University . “I have a strong view about nuclear waste, and that it needs to be
stored underground,”2 Professor Macfarlane says. I also hope common sense prevails in
Australia as the most important policy decision to deliver the best and recommended deep
geological disposal of radioactive waste going forward.

There is still time to make amends and I hope that you all seriously consider the impact the
bill would have if approved as it stands. There is a right of procedural fairness to all involved
to assure with absolute certainty this will not be imposed onto a community.

I have good faith that by being progressive and adapting a new approach rather than
legitimising the flaws within this process we as Australians can be responsible in finding the
right location and solution with community empowerment abiding by all the principles of
world’s best practice standards and lessons learnt.

I appreciate being able to make comment and reassess a better outcome for radioactive
waste and provide further evidence as necessary.
Mrs Sue Woolford

1 https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/economic-impact-assessment-kimba-region
2 https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2018/05/18/nuclear-waste-sa-yes-no/

 

May 19, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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