Australian news, and some related international items

The Kimba nuclear dump is a long way from a done deal: needs formal environmental and regulatory assessment and approval.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s formal declaration of Napandee, near Kimba in regional South Australia, as the location for a co-located radioactive waste disposal and storage facility is likely to see an escalation in community contest and opposition, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

ACF’s concerns with the plan include:

  • No consent from the region’s Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people. Barngarla were actively excluded from key ‘consultation’ processes, including a highly restricted community ballot.
  • The planned facility is unnecessary given federal parliament’s recent support for a $60 million waste storage upgrade to secure the most problematic intermediate level waste (ILW) at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Lucas Heights nuclear site for the next three to five decades.
  • Moving intermediate level waste from ANSTO, a site with many institutional assets – security, radiation monitoring and emergency response, local expertise etc – to a site near Kimba with far fewer assets and resources is irresponsible and inconsistent with best industry practice.

Further concerns are outlined in ACF’s 3-page background brief on radioactive waste plans.

“The Kimba plan is effectively redundant on the day Minister Pitt has made his decision,” said ACF’s national nuclear-free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Extended storage of Australia’s most problematic waste at Lucas Heights where most of it is already stored, makes far more economic, environmental and radiological sense than the ill-considered Kimba plan.

“Sites that currently store and manage nuclear medicine waste around Australia will still need to do so, irrespective of the status of any national facility, so the Minister’s repeated reference to nuclear waste being spread across 100 sites is disingenuous and inaccurate.

“The planned federal action is contrary to SA state law and does not enjoy bi-partisan political support.

“Fewer than one thousand South Australians have had a say in a plan that has profound inter-generational implications.

“This is particularly concerning given the prospect of project creep as atomic enthusiasts spruik domestic nuclear energy in the context of the proposed acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

“Minister Pitt is continuing the same top-down, flawed approach that has failed in the past.

“Minister Pitt’s decision is the start of a new stage in the campaign for responsible waste management.

“This politicised move will be contested in the Courts and on the streets.

“Setting up processes to manufacture consent – including denying a voice to Aboriginal Traditional Owners – speaks volumes about the poverty of the arguments in favour of the waste facility.

“If the Minister was convinced of the project’s merits he would not be cutting corners with Traditional Owners and the wider community or making myth about nuclear medicine.

“Canberra should stop playing politics and instead get serious about responsible radioactive waste management.

“This issue has a long way to run. The plan needs formal environmental and regulatory assessment and approval and is a long way from a done deal.”

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

Measure twice, cut once: Advancing responsible radioactive waste management in Australia

November 29, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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