Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) rejects Nuclear Waste Bill, discusses transport dangers

the proposal to move long-lived intermediate-level waste (ILW) from interim above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to interim above-ground storage at the Kimba site….exposes communities to unnecessary risks, and it exposes workers (including MUA members) to unnecessary risks. .. and raises “implications for security”… the considerable distances involved create a whole additional level of risk.

MUA policy is that our members will not be involved in moving nuclear waste. The toxicity
of the waste is severe.

The Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) to Senate Committee on  National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 19   The Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) recommends that the Senate Committee rejects the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 (hereafter the NRWM Amendment Bill).

The Bill is designed to advance a fundamentally flawed radioactive waste management process which should be put on hold until such time as a comprehensive independent inquiry is held to investigate all options for managing radioactive waste

The Committee should recommend repeal of the unacceptable and draconian overrides of Commonwealth and state laws in the existing National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012. Further, the Committee should recommend rejection of the NRWM Amendment Bill which would worsen the situation by giving the Federal Government additional sweeping
powers to override Commonwealth and state laws.
The Federal Government’s own 65% benchmark for ‘broad community support’ has not been met; only 43.8% of eligible voters in the combined Kimba and Barngarla ballots supported the proposed nuclear waste facility. The Federal Government has not demonstrated ‘broad community support’ along potential transport corridors or statewide
in SA. The proposed nuclear waste facility is illegal under South Australia’s Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act. Instead of respecting that state legislation, the Federal Government intends to override it and the NRWM Amendment Bill outlines a regulatory mechanism to override SA law and thus to undermine democratic rights.
The proposal to proceed with the nuclear waste facility despite the clear opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners ‒ and their representative body, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporate ‒ is unacceptable and must not be allowed to stand. The Committee must reject the Bill and recommend that the proposed waste facility near Kimba should be
scrapped in light of the opposition of Traditional Owners. The Committee should also draw
attention to, and strongly reject, proposed amendments in the NRWM Amendment Bill
which would further disempower Traditional Owners, including by stripping them of appeal
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 Federal Government’s actions ‒ including its NRWM Amendment Bill ‒ are inconsistent
with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) in 2017 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”.
Instead of accepting the principle of free, prior and informed consent, the Federal
Government intends to proceed without the consent of Traditional Owners and to amend
legislation to override their rights and interests.
 
The Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) endorses the resolution carried at the SA ALP
State Conference on 13 October 2018
(noting that the targeted site in the Flinders Ranges is
no longer under consideration):
“State Convention acknowledges that radioactive waste management is a complex policy
challenge that requires the highest level of transparency and evidence and that the current
federal approach to site a national waste facility in regional South Australia is strongly
contested.
Supports Traditional Owners and community members in the Flinders Ranges and Kimba
regions of South Australia in their current struggle to prevent a nuclear waste facility
being constructed in their region.
• Calls for full transparency, broad public input and best practice technical and
consultative standards during the current site nomination and selection process.
• Expresses concern at the federal government’s continuing fo
focus on finding a single
remote site for radioactive waste to be disposed (low level) and stored (intermediate
level) to the exclusion of all other waste management options.
• Reaffirms its support for the civil society call for the extended interim storage of federal
wastes at federal sites pending a broad independent inquiry that examines all options for
future responsible radioactive waste, transport and storage and management.
• Commits to support communities opposing the nomination of their lands or region for a
dump site, and any workers who refuse to facilitate the construction and operation or
transport and handling of radioactive waste material destined for any contested facility or sites including South Australian Port communities.”
TRANSPORT ISSUES
The Department’s July 2018 “Site Characterisation Technical Report: Napandee” (p.150)
names Whyalla Port to take shipments of nuclear fuel reprocessing waste.1 Two shipments
of reprocessed nuclear fuel wastes, in 130 tonne TN-81 casks, are intended within the first
two years of operations of an ILW store, with many more over subsequent years and
decades. The Department’s report also proposes 100 x B-double 50 tonne loads of ILW in
the first four years alone (in addition to hundreds of loads of low-level radioactive waste)
and it flags the option of shipping ILW from Port Kembla to an SA port such as Whyalla
(p.157-158): “It may be possible to have these containers shipped from Port Kembla to ports
such as Whyalla.”
There is no logic behind the proposal to move long-lived intermediate-level waste (ILW)
from interim above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to interim above-ground storage at the
Kimba site. The proposed double-handling (once to the Kimba site, then at some unspecified
time to a disposal site) makes no sense whatsoever, it exposes communities to unnecessary
risks, and it exposes workers (including MUA members) to unnecessary risks. Further,
ARPANSA’s Nuclear Safety Committee has stated that dual handling in transport associated
with interim storage “does not represent international best practice” and raises
“implications for security”
Additionally, the considerable distances involved create a whole additional level of risk. The
more time a truck is on the road the greater the chance of an accident. International best
practice is the shortest distance possible for waste transportation to a permanent storage
site.
Clearly ILW waste stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights should remain there until a disposal
facility is available. ANSTO has better safety and security arrangements than could possibly
apply at the Kimba site; there are no legal or regulatory impediments to ongoing storage at
Lucas Heights; and storage at Lucas Heights avoids the unnecessary risks associated with the
proposed double handling.
MUA policy is that our members will not be involved in moving nuclear waste. The toxicity
of the waste is severe. Even if the chances of an accident were small, there would
potentially be very significant, negative consequences for members in the vicinity. On this
basis our refusal to handle nuclear waste is easily defensible-and arguably required- under
the nationally harmonised Workplace Health and Safety laws.
The Federal Government has made no effort to consult along potential road corridors or
targeted port towns such as Port Kembla or Whyalla. This is a long-standing breach of advice
from ARPANSA’s Nuclear Safety Committee which stresses the “essential” requirement to
“clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along transport routes” in its
Nov. 2016 report.3
ARPANSA’s draft Code for Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Dec. 2017) states that an applicant
for an ILW disposal facility would need to satisfy the regulator that safe containment can be
demonstrated over a period of “not be less than 10,000 years.4 Yet the Federal Government has made no progress towards disposal of ILW and instead proposes unnecessary and

unacceptable movement from above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to less secure aboveground
storage at Kimba.

The UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities’ May 2016 “Briefing: Nuclear security concerns – how
secure is the UK civil nuclear sector?” highlights security threats including the risks from
potential attack on a nuclear waste transport or on a nuclear waste storage site.5 The
briefing paper cites nuclear engineer Dr. John Large, who stated:
“Movement of nuclear materials is inherently risky both in terms of severe accident and
terrorist attack. Not all accident scenarios and accident severities can be foreseen; it is only
possible to maintain a limited security cordon around the flask and its consignment; …
terrorists are able to seek out and exploit vulnerabilities in the transport arrangements and
localities on the route; and emergency planning is difficult to maintain over the entire route.”
The SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission concluded that terrorist attack scenarios are
conceivable during the transport of nuclear fuel wastes, with the potential scenario for
rocket attack on the transport of nuclear fuel waste reported as having the greatest
potential to cause a release of radiation.6
Appendix 1 provides detail on nuclear materials transport incidents and accidents. Glib
assurances of transport safety are not supported by real-world experience. Incidents and
accidents are commonplace, and in some cases the consequences are severe.
Appendix 2, an article by maritime worker and MUA member Natalie Wasley, exposes the
poor track record of the shipping company used by the Federal Government to ship spent
nuclear fuel from Australia to France for reprocessing and to ship reprocessing waste to
Australia. Problems have included losing cargo overboard, failing to follow basic navigation
rules, failing safety inspections, and exploiting workers.
TRANSPORT RISKS
APPENDIX 1: NUCLEAR WASTE TRANSPORT SAFETY AND SECURITY RISKS…….. [copious examples and references ]
APPENDIX 2: RESPONSIBILITY OVERBOARD: THE SHOCKING RECORD OF
THE COMPANY SHIPPING NUCLEAR WASTE TO AUSTRALIA….. [copious examples and references]

June 11, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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