Australian news, and some related international items

Napandee still the targeted site for nuclear waste? South Australia’s radioactive nightmare.

The Senate’s nuclear waste dilemma, Pearls and Irritations, By Noel Wauchope, Jun 27, 2021 ”……….. Australia’s obligations mount – to have some credible plan for long term management of its nuclear waste from its present Opal, and previous HIFAR nuclear reactors.The new amendment made this very significant change – and a real career-on -knife edge situation for Keith Pitt. Instead of specifying Napandee as the site for – let’s face it – just another temporary nuclear waste dump – the Bill now says that a selection is to be made from one of the listed sites. …

Well this seems to boil down to just one site anyway……… after all the promotional activity, and significant funding already granted to Kimba, it looks as if Napandee is still the targeted site….

Legal challenges to this site selection ? …….. the first consideration will be the Barngarla Native Title Owners………. [There]  are farmers, local residents and business leaders, who are asking the government for funding for an independent review and assessment of the dump project. Up till now, information on the project has been confined to government and ANSTO promotion of the dump as a ”medical necessity” for Australia.

Then there are residents of the wider Eyre Peninsula, who have had no say in the Kimba decision. There are the various communities whose residents are likely to object to having radioactive waste transported through their area. There’s South Australia, too, which has clear laws prohibiting the establishment of a nuclear waste dump in that State, the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000.

But even those who have no ”local” interest in this project have been raising objections, with that rather old-fashioned motivation – the greater good. Thirteen of Australia’s top non government organisations rejected the Napandeed plan and the original Act as deeply flawed There were many submissions to the Senate Committee’s Inquiry into the plan, raising well-argued doubts about economic problems with the plan, about geological unsuitability of the location, environmental risks, and the likely outcome of Kimba being burdened with ”stranded wastes”

It is an issue of national concern, but it has been pitched by the government as a matter only for the 824 eligible voters of the Kimba Shire.

Looking at this in the wider and historical context, the plan is not so new. The federal government and ANSTO have been aiming for years to transfer the responsibility of the reactor wastes to some distant location, preferably out of New South Wales. ANSTO, under the recently departed CEO Dr Adi Paterson had grand plans for expanding its operations, to build a marketing empire for medical radioisotopes, This is a dubious plan, as now these isotopes are being produced in a safer, more practical way, using non nuclear cyclotrons.

A greater dream, (or perhaps nightmare) lies behind the nuclear lobby’s push for a radioactive waste dump. It’s the idea, promoted by the company PANGEA, in 1999, of Australia becoming the importer of international nuclear waste – the world’s nuclear waste hub. PANGEA has been reborn as ARIUS, with the same dream. In 2016, that dream was pushed by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Commission, which failed to convince South Australians. Two Citizens Jury processes rejected the plan, and the South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced that it was definitely axed.

There’s still more. The dream of plutonium and other end products of nuclear reactors coming to Australia was tied to the aspirations for an Australian nuclear future, first with the goal of the full nuclear fuel cycle, with advanced nuclear reactors, small nuclear reactors, thorium reactors, (that need plutonium to kick-start the fission process), nuclear submarines, nuclear-propelled spacecraft and so on……..

[Ed. note – the Bill was passed by the Senate on 22nd June]

Australian Conservation Foundation Nuclear Free Campaigner David Sweeney said “The return of legal review is important but it is extraordinary that the Minister ever thought its removal was reasonable,” Mr Sweeney said.“A day in court is a fundamental right and to seek to remove this was deeply flawed – as is the government’s wider plan.”

The ACF along with other peak environmental, health and community organisations, has spelt out its objections in a document on its website, stating that the plan for the Kimba waste dump is unnecessary and deeply flawed. More importantly, they are calling for what is instead really needed . They demand a properly funded and expert independent review of Australia’s radioactive waste management, based on evidence and global best practice.

June 28, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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