Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear waste for Napandee: transport, double handling, safety? Should South Australians get a vote on this?

Jobs, safety and transport in the spotlight in Senate committee probe of Kimba waste plan,  Michelle Etheridge, Regional Reporter, The Advertiser, July 28, 2020

Concerns about maritime workers facing safety risks and the Kimba community losing jobs promised for the local area have been raised before a Senate committee probing plans for a radioactive waste site.

Under the Federal Government’s project, low-level radioactive waste would be stored permanently at farming property Napandee, near Kimba, with intermediate-level waste stored there for several decades.

No long-term plan for intermediate-level waste has been set out – an issue raised by speakers during Tuesday’s committee meeting, which is looking into legislation the government says paves the way for the storage site.

Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) secretary Jamie Newlyn said the Government should eliminate double-handling of the waste, also citing concerns for Whyalla-based members.

“Whyalla port has been considered … to take nuclear processing waste,” Mr Newlyn said.

“What they’re handling is 130-tonne casks of intermediate-level waste. That presents a massive risk.” A 2018 Federal Government technical report on Napandee said there was potential to ship waste from Port Kembla, NSW, to “port locations such as Whyalla, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln”.

Senator Rex Patrick also questioned whether the 45 long-term jobs promised to Kimba would stay there, now a Australian Radioactive Waste Agency has been announced for Adelaide.

A Kimba Council vote last year found 62 per cent of respondents supported the plan. Traditional landowners voted against it in a separate ballot.

Napandee owner Jeff Baldock said it was “time to accept the decision by the people of Kimba and move forward”.

“(The project) … has the potential to provide a lifeline to our community for decades to come,” Mr Baldock said.

Agriculture would benefit from the plan, he said, through a planned research and development centre.

Mr Baldock said it would also provide a much-needed new industry for the region.

This followed automation in farming and withdrawal of government agencies, which had led to a declining local population.

Wesley Schmidt, of Kimba-based Agsave Merchandise, said opposition to the project was coming from a “vocal minority”.

“We’re currently facing the third year running of drought conditions in Kimba. It’s more important than ever to establish another industry in our district,” he said.

Former Grey MP Barry Wakelin, based in the town, said the area had much to lose from picking up “something that nobody else in Australia wants”.

“Many people have said, why can’t we have an SA vote, at least, about this,” he said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney said: “In the absence of a clear, long-term approach for intermediate level waste, the best place to store this is at ANSTO (Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, in NSW).”

The Senate committee will report back by August 31.

A spokesman for the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency said the Government would consult on transport options with communities near potential routes and transport operators.

“The newly created Australian Radioactive Waste Agency will lead the separate process to site a facility to permanently dispose of Australia’s intermediate level waste,” he said.

He said the 45 jobs included security, administration, environmental monitoring and health and safety roles.

“The facility will need these onsite roles to ensure that the facility is managed safely and securely.”

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

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