Australian news, and some related international items

The Federal government is pulling a nuclear waste confidence trick on South Australia.

Well, that’s a relief to South Australians.

But aw shucks, that was 2017. Is Premier Marshall now going to do a backflip, and let the Federal government send ANSTO’s radioactive trash to a small rural community in South Australia?

On Monday 21 June at 12.20 pm,  the Australian Senate will debate, and may vote on, the revised National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 .

South Australia has clear laws prohibiting the establishment of a nuclear waste dump in that State.     Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000
There is a strange and hypocritical silence from the State’s Liberal leaders, and Labor Opposition. Only the Greens have spoken out against this Federal plan to establish a nuclear waste dump in a rural area.

Why the silence from the rest?    It could be because they sort of support the plan, even though it contravenes the State’s law.    Or, just as likely, they know that even if this Bill is passed, it’s not really going anywhere, anyway.

The idea of toting ANSTO’s ”intermediate level” nuclear waste from  temporary storage at Lucas Heights, to way across the continent to another temporary storage in some little rural agricultural area in South Australia, is fraught with problems, and unanswered questions.

If this Bill becomes law, three previously short-listed locations Lyndhurst in New South Wales, Napandee near Kimba, and Wallerberdina in the Flinders Ranges are nominated as suitable sites, and Minister Keith Pitt will be required to formally declare a site. Correction. I am informed that the New South Wales site is not included, and that Federal Labor have put up an amendment to remove that Wallerberdina site in theFlinders Ranges.

From then on, the rot will really set in, and I don’t like Minister Pitt’s chances of imposing a facility on any of these communities.   For a start, the Wallerberdina site has already been  rejected. via a community ballot, and that location was scrapped by the previous Minister Matt Canavan.

The obvious target is the Kimba site, where in a fairly restricted vote, a community vote did favour this ”interim” waste dump, accompanied as it was by financial incentives for the town..  But there is strong opposition from the Barngarla people, traditional owners who were excluded from the vote.  There are also farmers most unhappy with the choice of this agricultural area: they have formed  a group – No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA.       

The newly amended Bill opens the matter up for legal challenge, which is sure to come about.     There are serious objections to the plan, not least of which is the problem of transport, involving numerous communities whose residents are likely to object to having radioactive waste transported through their area.   There certainly is the question of placing nuclear waste in an agricultural area.  Nuclear enthusiasts claim that this is acceptable overseas. They cite France  ignoring the protest continuing  in the village of Bure  where the French government has tried to set up a waste facility.

There are serious doubts on the soundness of the proposal, especially as it relates to the Napandee site . Is it geologically suitable, seismically safe?Meanwhile the interim storage at Lucas Heights has room for years more storage, and has the staff, the security, and the expertise to safely manage the wastes on site.

Above all  – the Napandee site has been promoted to the local community, with enthusiastic information from ANSTO and Industry Department experts, and promises of economic benefits. What has not been provided, but in fact, actively discouraged, is the other side of the story.  Kimba residents have not had access to the misgivings of other experts about this proposal –   economic disadvantages, environmental considerations, water problems, and the long-term probability  for the community to be stuck with stranded wastes

June 19, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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