Australian news, and some related international items

Australian politics: Deep disagreement on federal radioactive waste plan

The growing uncertainty and contest over Federal Government plans to advance a national radioactive waste facility at Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been highlighted today in a new Senate report.

The Senate report reflects growing divisions about how to manage radioactive waste in Australia, with government members supporting the plan while Labor, Green and independent Senators raised serious concerns and reservations or actively opposed the plan.

The report was set up to examine controversial changes to national radioactive waste laws in order to the secure the Kimba site and then remove this decision from judicial review.

“This is a deeply deficient plan based on a flawed and constrained process,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney. “That one Committee inquiry has generated four separate responses from Senators shows there is no consensus on the plan”.

“The government dominated majority report predictably supports the waste plan, while the three other responses are critical of the approach”.

“The government’s plan would lead to sub-optimal radioactive waste management outcomes and is actively contested by many in the wider region, including the Barngarla Traditional Owners who have been consistently excluded from the consultation process.”

The federal waste plan has drawn criticism and opposition from a range of civil society and community groups and South Australia’s Labor opposition. Federal Labor voted against the plan in the House of Representatives in June. Key concerns with the plan include:

  • There is no pressing need for a centralised national waste storage site. The federal nuclear regulator ARPANSA says there is no urgency to move the most problematic waste from where it is stored at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisations (ANSTO) reactor site at Lucas Heights.
  • The unnecessary double-handling and transport of intermediate level waste from an above-ground extended interim storage facility at ANSTO to an above-ground extended interim storage facility in a less resourced regional area is inconsistent with best practice.
  • The bill would disproportionately and adversely affect Barngarla Traditional Owners.
  • There has been no consultation outside the immediate region. Communities on the wider Eyre Peninsula and along the extensive transport corridors have not been consulted.

“This is not a credible plan,” said Dave Sweeney, “it is a politicised and fragile promise.”

“Australians deserve better than an approach which lacks credibility, is inconsistent with international standards and shirks hard question about what to do with the worst waste.”

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

Read ACF’s 3-page background brief on the federal radioactive waste plans

September 14, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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