Australian news, and some related international items

Megan Johnson: National Radioactive Waste Act – not democratic, not transparent, a hasty inadequate plan

I urge you to reject the bill until the community is presented with a transparent, democratic, comprehensive, long-term plan.

Megan Johnson to Senate Inquiry on National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions]Submission 41 

  1. Democratic Process
    The Community Consultation process has not been adequate. This is a matter that affects all South Australians,
    and all South Australians should have the democratic right to vote on it.
    It is particularly concerning that the Barngarla were excluded from the vote – traditional landowners should be
    entitled to a vote, just as residents of Kimba District were entitled to a vote.
2. Adequacy of Information.
The proposed facility is for permanent disposal of low-level waste and temporary storage of intermediate-level
waste. These are two very different concerns, but there has been a down-playing of the role of intermediate-level
waste at the facility. The term ’gloves-and-gowns’ waste has become common parlance in the discussion. This is
not an accurate description of intermediate-level waste, which will not decay to an acceptable level
“during the time for which institutional controls can be relied upon”.
According to the DIIS website , the facility concept design clearly shows that intermediate-level waste is allocated equal area as the lowlevel
waste. Therefore, intermediate level-waste should be given at least equal discussion.
Australia’s intermediate-level waste currently resides at a purpose-built storage facility that was commissioned
into service only 5 years ago at Lucas Heights. No-one has been able to adequately explain what purpose is
served by moving intermediate-level waste from the Lucas Heights location to temporary storage at Napandee.
The DIIS brought a French delegation from Aube to Kimba, to talk to the local community about the proposed
facility. However, the Aube facility is for permanent disposal of low-level waste only. It is not at all comparable
to the proposed facility at Napandee, and is therefore misleading. In the interest of balance, DIIS should have
brought representatives from a community that lives near a temporary storage facility for intermediate-level
Again, referring to the concept design on the DIIS website, it is proposed that the intermediate-level waste will
be removed from Napandee between 50-100 years after it is installed. At this stage, the waste will be nowhere
near its half-life. There is no plan and no funding allocated for this re-location.
The community consultation process has been inadequate and misleading – either intentionally or
unintentionally. The community has not been given enough information to make an informed decision.
There are circumstances under which a nuclear waste facility could be the right deal for a community and a
permanent solution to our national waste management. However, the current offering is very poor – I urge you to
reject the bill until the community is presented with a transparent, democratic, comprehensive, long-term plan.

May 30, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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