Antinuclear

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AustralianGovtWatcher comments on Senate Committee enquiry hearing on Tuesday 30 June 2020

In general both the committee members and the witnesses appeared to be ill prepared and lacked knowledge of some of the pertinent issues involved

Several important factors were neither raised by questions nor otherwise dealt with by the witnesses – these included:

  • details of expenditure of the whole exercise particularly the cost of the reports by AECOM
  • more specific description of how the Kimba proposals and present arrangements for storage of nuclear waste comply with international standards and best practice
  • no information on the radionuclides inventories and mobility 
  • information on examination of techniques and methods for permanent disposal of intermediate level waste – merely mentioned directional drilling which no doubt refers to the borehole technology
  • no specific mention of geological burial requirements and applicable codes
  • complete silence on immediate availability of the highly suitable Leonora site of the Azark Project
  • no questions regarding the previous nominations
  • no questioning of the ballot results yet seemed to agree with the Department’s proposition that the Barngarla peoples’ own ballot was of not much help since so many had not voted

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young pursued a couple of worthwhile points regarding consultations with the Barngarla and their lack of informed consent and the issue of double handling of the intermediate level waste by initial storage at Kimba followed by permanent disposal at some other location

The other member who pursued a number of issues with some success was Senator Jenny McAllister but again she appeared to lack the required knowledge to be really effective

However she was a butt to Senator Chris Carr who is obviously very much in favour of the Kimba proposal particularly with his references to his discussions with Dr Adi Paterson from ANSTO

Senator Rex Patrick asked some good questions but regrettably this was obviously slanted towards his present campaign to get the waste disposed of at Woomera

Perhaps the most badly prepared witness was Ms Sam Chard  from the Department who simply could not answer some fairly basic questions and kept asking for them to be put on notice for subsequent provision of the necessary information – she was actually castigated by Senator McAllister

Asking for requests to be put on notice is invariably good tactics to avoid having to answer immediately an uncomfortable question and I suspect there is more use of this than necessary

However this can be reduced to some extent if the inquiry committee made greater use of its powers of production and discovery before and even during the hearings

The witness with whose answers I was disappointed – and I did see a bit of him on video – was Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson from ARPANSA who was very noncommittal and not extremely helpful by continuously claiming that ARPANSA would only become involved once it received the applications for the necessary licences for the Kimba facility

The very disappointing aspect of his evidence is that he would not provide any significant technical information and seemed too interested in shoring up the position of ANSTO

It is of course very difficult in these hearings since the members of the enquiring committee are mostly not trained in the art of forensic questioning as well as having insufficient knowledge to make the inquiry process very effective

It also seems that the research team for the enquiry did not delve sufficiently into various issues that should be investigated which only makes it more difficult for the committee considering the limited time given to each member for questions

From the submissions by the government and its agencies it is now quite clear that the community members opposing the Kimba facility must get proper independent assessment and advice to be able to be involved in the consultations with ARPANSA during the licensing process in a meaningful manner

They should ask the committee to ensure sufficient funds are available for that purpose as otherwise it will be practically impossible for the community members to deal with the technical and rather scientific aspects of the licensing applications particularly as Dr Larsson was not overly encouraging in his evidence about assisting them

The best self serving evidence was from AEMCO who simply relied on their report and very stated that quite a few of the issues raised by questions ere outside of its commission

July 6, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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