Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian MP Rowan Ramsey, and Minister for Resources, Keith Pitt, talk nonsense about the planned nuclear waste dump at Napandee. 

  By Noel Wauchope, 27 June 20Examining the Joint media release by the Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey MP and Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, 11 June 2020   – “Important step for national radioactive waste facility in South Australia.” – here it is –

Legislation has been introduced to federal parliament that will pave the way for a critical piece of national infrastructure to support the increasing use of nuclear medicine in Australia and provide an economic boost to a regional South Australian
community. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill today passed through the House of Representatives.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said it’s an important milestone for the establishment of the facility.

“Governments have been attempting to find a solution to this issue for decades and today our Government has taken a
significant step in bringing the process to a conclusion,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response That just shows how hopeless and incompetent the government has been on this issue and still cannot do everything correctly and in an acceptable manner under internationally prescribed standards.

Moreover the government lacks the capacity or simply does not want to follow and adopt the most recent developments and advances in the field of nuclear waste disposal and storage.

The legislation will confirm the site near Kimba in South Australia as the home for the facility that will allow the continued growth of nuclear medicine in Australia.

My Response This has nothing to do with nuclear medicine and is a most dishonest representation. It again shows bad planning on the part of the government, particularly as the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights for the production of molybdenum is having persistent problems which could have led to a total shutdown last year. 

Interestingly there was little public reporting of these problems by either ANSTO or ARPANSA as the regulatory authority which as a result had to issue only an interim operating licence.

“The site was one of 28 across the country that was voluntarily nominated, followed by extensive engagement and consultation with the surrounding community that has shown broad support for the project,” Minister Pitt said.

My ResponseThere have not been 28 voluntary nominations or the extensive  engagement and consultations particularly as there has been no contact by the government with the Azark Project at Leonora in Western Australia since early 2018.

“There has also been extensive engagement with other stakeholders during this process, including with Traditional Owners.”

My Response Again, there has been no extensive engagement with Traditional Owners, particularly as the Azark Project has far more internationally based scientific and technical knowledge available to it in the areas of nuclear chemistry and engineering as to waste then possessed by the government through ANSTO and CSIRO There has not been any contact even with the traditional owners\ of the Azark site at Leonora.

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said the local community has heard enough and just wants work on the facility to begin. “I thank the landholders who nominated their properties and have been the centre of attention ever since and I also thank the whole community for engaging in the consultation process,” Mr Ramsey said.

My ResponseRamsey is being disingenuous as in all probability the proposal for Napandee will have difficulty getting the necessary licences for its establishment and operations.

No work can begin until those licences are issued.

The land owners concerned did not voluntarily nominate their properties but only did so at the suggestion of Ramsey and the government through the then Department of Industry Innovation and Science, since other properties in the Kimba region were found unsuitable.

The government has refused to produce the nomination forms for the properties at Napandee and Lyndhurst, as they were apparently filled out for them by the Department’s staff.

“Of course there are differing views, but the whole community has made a decision and most are looking forward to the commencement of work.”

My ResponseThis is absolute rubbish as Ramsey knows that there are many people who are against the proposed facility and if a proper and fully informed plebiscite were held then the government would struggle to get approval for its ill-conceived proposals.

Whichever way it is examined the government has failed to provide sufficient information for an informed decision or consent by the selected voters for the Kimba ballots and excluded many other persons who should have had a vote on this important issue.

Minister Pitt said the legislation will now head to the Senate and called on Labor and the cross-benchers to support the project.

My ResponseWishful thinking as discussions with both the opposition and cross-benchers in the Senate are already suggestive of lack of support for the legislation.

“Suggestions that a site in the Woomera area could be used for the facility are simply not practical due to the increase in Defence Force training activities that will limit access to the area,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response  Is not the real reason that the Defence Force does not trust or rely on ANSTO and will not work with it in containing or disposing of any nuclear waste as Defence wants to retain complete control of its nuclear material?

“The passage of this Bill, and the construction of the facility, is crucially important to the future of nuclear medicine in Australia, which will benefit two in three Australians”.

My Response This, as already mentioned, has nothing to do with the future of nuclear medicine in Australia and this is confirmed by overseas experts who regard the proposals for Kimba as unrealistic and uncommercial with an obvious lack of research.

“Currently the waste is stored in around 100 locations across the country, including hospital basements, research facilities and universities”.

My Response Yes but only a relatively small portion of this waste is under the control of the federal government and again, from discussions with state government and private institutions having waste, is that they will not use the facility as they regard ANSTO as completely unreliable.

“The project at Kimba will support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia, and provide new job and economic opportunities for a South Australian regional community.”

My Response How will this support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia as its production has nothing to do with the storage issue?

Equally the numbers of 45 new jobs or others stated by the government are completely unrealistic, as much larger similar facilities overseas have only a fraction of that staff complement.

To be quite clear about the situation:

1. Even though it claims that it has not raised any concerns regarding the storage of waste at what is known as the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights, ARPANSA still requires ANSTO under existing licensing arrangements to report by 30 June 2020 on the plans for the storage and disposal of that waste.

2. This came about because when this waste was returned by the end of 2015 from overseas reprocessing, the intended storage facility for it which is described as the national radioactive waste management facility was not available.

3. As a result ARPANSA permitted by licence for ANSTO to temporarily store the reprocessed waste at the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights but on the condition that ANSTO provides plans for the final management of that waste by its removal.

4. It follows that the urgency is for the government through ANSTO to have firm plans for the removal by being able to specify the proposed facility at Napandee for that purpose.

5. This is obviously the reason for the rushed legislative process which will probably involve debating the bill in the Senate before the existing committee inquiry is completed.

6. A similar condition has been imposed by ARPANSA under the licence for ANSTO to operate the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights.

7. The waste in question is classified by the government as being of intermediate level but it is at the higher end of that class as to volatility and was classified as high level waste by France when being returned to ANSTO after reprocessing.

8. It is this level of waste about which the government has been rather backward in providing any information of a public nature as by the international safety prescriptions it should even for temporary storage be by appropriate geological burial which is simply not possible at Kimba.

9. It is a major reason for the obvious difficulties that ANSTO will encounter in trying to get the necessary licences for the storage facility at Napandee.

10. The other important aspect of the government’s proposals will be the disclosure by ANSTO of the inventory of radionuclides applicable to that waste which becomes the determining factor of the manner of storage and ultimate disposal to be used for that waste. That is why the level or quantum of radionuclides should be the first issue examined by the Senate inquiry as it will form the basis of the safety case and even indicate whether the Napandee facility plans should be pursued.

11. The ridiculous part of all of this is that the government has persistently refused to consider the Azark Project facility at Leonora , which would readily overcome the problems of storage and ultimate disposal of the intermediate level waste in a completely acceptable manner in accordance with all international standards and at a fraction of the cost of the government’s proposals.

June 27, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster

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