Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Busting Australian govt media spin about Napandee nuclear waste plan, – by AustralianGovtWatcher

Cut through this spin from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources – glossing over the licensing problem about waste classification. It is duplicitous about “medical” wastes. It ignores the plan’s failure to comply with all regulatory requirements, failure to properly inform local community. It makes dubious claims on economics and employment, and dubious claims about the selective community ballot, and duplicitous claims about Aboriginal involvement (AustralianGovtWatcher’s comments in red italics)

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources National Radioactive Waste Management Facility: Hearings last Tuesday of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics

Media release
2 July 2020

The following can be attributed to a spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources:
“The department was pleased to attend the committee hearings on Tuesday to discuss the proposed legislation to support the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility,” the spokesperson said.

“Specifically it was also an opportunity to address some questions about the process and proposed facility, including some those which have since been raised in the media, as outlined below.

Is there are need for a facility?
“The legislation delivers on the Australian Government’s commitment to site the facility at Napandee in Kimba, South Australia.

“The facility will be for the disposal of low-level waste and temporary storage of intermediate level waste, which will be stored at the facility only if it meets strict Waste Acceptance Criteria.”

The facility will fail to meet the safety codes and prescriptions of IAEA as adopted in Australia by ARPANSA

What is proposed to overcome this problem as otherwise ANSTO or whoever else will be the operator of the facility will not get the necessary licences

“About 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine which, on average, two in three Australians will need during their lifetime.”

This is a dubious claim and depends entirely on the level of classification and the source of the waste – it should be specifically broken down into those categories.

“This medical waste, along with Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings, is currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, like science facilities, universities and hospitals.”

True but only a portion of that waste is held or controlled by the federal government.

“It is international best practice to consolidate this waste at a purpose-built facility.”

Agreed but the facility at Napandee will not achieve this.

Can’t the waste be permanently stored at ANSTO?
“Australia cannot indefinitely produce the vital nuclear medicine
that it needs, without responsibly and safely managing the radioactive waste by product.
“The national facility will not fit at ANSTO – it requires at least 40 hectares plus a buffer zone and enabling infrastructure.
“On the other hand, the whole ANSTO Lucas Heights campus, designed for nuclear medicine and research, is only 70 hectares in size, and already has more than 80 buildings on it.”

Although unavoidable due to simply adding new buildings when needed it still shows a dismissal lack of planning over many years which is acknowledged by former senior personnel at ANSTO

Do we need more scrutiny around the process to identify a site?
“The process to site the facility was developed with the assistance of an Independent Advisory Panel which included members with a range of academic, industry and environmental backgrounds, and people who are both generally supportive and against the proposal to establish the facility.”

Absolute nonsense since the choice of the site and subsequent development proposals fail to comply with all regulatory requirements.

Moreover the community members against the proposals were never given full and proper information despite their specific requests.

A good example of this was the issue of fire risks which is of prime importance with the proposed above ground structure in the heart of prime agricultural land.

The so-called Independent Advisory Panel proved to be ineffective and was not constituted as initially planned – it certainly did nothing of consequence to identify the location and provide any real scrutiny.

“And the process has already been independently scrutinised
on two occasions.
“In 2018, the Senate Economics References Committee ran an inquiry into the process for the selection of a site for the facility, and this found that that the process was sound.
“Four years of community engagement and three years of technical studies support the identification of Napandee as a site, which is suitable technically to safely and securely manage Australia’s waste, and broadly supported by the community.”

The Senate Committee inquiring into the selection process in 2018 could not possibly be regarded as being an independent scrutiny as seen from its conclusions and recommendations.

What was the second occasion of scrutiny?

Most importantly the community at Kimba has requested funding and governmental assistance in getting their own proper and independent expert scrutiny and assessment but the government has refused the requests.

The District Council of Kimba also refused a similar request despite claiming to represent the whole community.

What economic benefits would the facility deliver for regional Australia?
“Independent economic analysis conservatively estimated the facility would bring over $8 million in economic benefits to Kimba each year.”

How?

“The facility will also be the area’s largest employer, bringing 45 local jobs.”

Much larger facilities overseas employ a fraction of that number – it is more likely to be less than 10 employees in total and will no doubt depend on the infrequent deliveries of waste to the facility.

Hard to see where the yearly economic benefits of $8 million will come – it will do nothing to replace an agricultural industry at Kimba worth between $55 million to $85 million a year which based on recent overseas situations will suffer dramatically due to the presence of the facility.

“And some 62% of the local Kimba community supported the facility in a Council-run ballot undertaken last year.”

This is based on a very selective ballot the results of which have not been correctly interpreted.

Most importantly the ballot failed on the principle of informed consent as there was a lack of proper information given to the voters prior to the ballot.

What are the ways of protecting cultural heritage?
“While there is no native title or registered heritage at Napandee, which is cleared farming land, the department recognises the Traditional Custodians in the region, who have strong views about a radioactive waste facility being situated in the area.
“If the Barngarla People are willing to consider the opportunity, the department is seeking to engage with the objective of a funded agreement between BDAC and the Government, which could include:

• a Barngarla economic plan – including $3 million allocated
by the Australian Government,
• training, employment and business opportunities,
• a cultural heritage assessment and management program,
• the opportunity to ensure Barngarla heritage and cultural values are enhanced by the Facility and its design,

That is not what the Barngarla people say particularly as the proposed funding outlined by the government will in any case come from other existing financial assistance already available to them.

In any case the government should have been consulting the Barngarla for that type of agreement several years ago and certainly well before their legal actions were taken and which were strongly opposed by the government.
It seems that it will be hard to mend the bridges!

CONCLUSION
These comments are based on various expert advice from overseas which is far more credible in the areas of nuclear science and engineering then exists in Australia mainly due to there being no local nuclear generation industry .

This expert advice can be made available to the Senate committee if necessary

However the whole process of selection of a previously nominated site and the subsequent development proposals lack any community consideration of such inherent issues as the radionuclides inventories of the waste and the risk of fires

July 5, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster

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