Australian news, and some related international items

ARPANSA cannot with a straight face, approve flood-prone Napandee farm as a safe location for a nuclear waste dump.

Kimba flooding
, By Peter Remta – 3 February 2022
The years of touting by the federal government and the responsible ministers of Kimba in South Australia as the perfect and inarguably superior location for the proposed national radioactive waste management facility have dramatically and quite suddenly disappeared. There is no doubt that the severe flooding caused by the recent heavy rains in South Australia which included the Kimba district is a serious and essential reason for immediately aborting the proposed management facility at Napandee farm near Kimba as the selected facility location

From expert advice it is quite clear that Kimba as a whole – and not just Napandee – is far too dangerous to become the location for the holding of nuclear waste particularly as the results of the present flooding may take up to ten years to overcome without any further flooding

This is especially the case as nuclear isotopes are dispersed and travel freely in water which can affect and contaminate all the surrounding land for many centuries making it completely unusable

There cannot be any excuse by claiming that this flooding may be a once in a lifetime unexpected event as there had been extensive previous floods in the Eyre Peninsula over sixty years ago

More importantly the nature of the proposed facility is that it must be a completely safe and competent environment to hold nuclear waste for several centuries which the federal government claims to be the case as part of its planning

The government as the proponent of the Kimba nuclear waste facility cannot deny knowledge of floods – and also fires – as risks for the purposes of the safety requirements for management of nuclear waste in Australia

The advice by overseas experts is that these two major risks are far more pertinent to Australia than other countries with nuclear waste and consequently the regulatory bodies should or must include these risks within the Australian waste management framework and other applicable prescriptions and standards for the long-term management of Australia’s radioactive waste.

This must obviously include the storage or disposal of nuclear waste at suitably located and established facilities

l informed ARPANSA some eighteen months ago about the formal inclusion of these risks in its safety codes and the requirement for the long overdue start of the safety case for Kimba but the response was that it was not necessary at that stage

The prescriptive requirement is for a safety case for any nuclear installation be started at the very beginning as to why a specific site is considered worthy of investigation

The safety case is then updated as the site characterisation proceeds and if the site fails to live up to initial expectations then it should be abandoned.

This process is an important part of public engagement and if one waits until the end of the process then the argument for safety is less credible and the chance to generate public support has been lost (1)

It seems to be a case of falling asleep at the wheel as mentioned previously by the Hon. George Gear with regard to the regulatory role of ARPANSA (2)

Irrespective of the colourful presentations and nicely sounding spin by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and even to some extent by ARPANSA there is no doubt that this is a serious breach of the safety requirements that should have been applied to Kimba at the outset

I think that ARPANSA will shortly hear from the UN Special Rapporteurs involved with this situation so that they can properly protect the human rights of the Kimba community.

It will be interesting to see how specifically ARPANSA and ANSTO will deal with the lack of a safety case from the beginning of the government’s proposals as this seems a major failing in proper and necessary safety regulation

As also previously pointed out the federal government should have given the Kimba community the opportunity and with the necessary funding for getting an independent assessment and review of the government’s proposals particularly as there had been so much vehement opposition to the proposed facility

I am not in any way suggesting that this would have stopped the flooding but there should have been proper and early regulation and oversight of the risks of floods and other calamities whether natural or man-made in a much stronger manner

It is now quite obvious that the Kimba region is completely unsuitable and inappropriate for the establishment of the national waste facility and ARPANSA as the regulator should immediately stop anything further being by or on behalf of the government to pursue the establishment of the facility

This should include the withdrawal and cancellation of ministerial declaration to select Napandee as the site for the proposed facility even if the necessary legislative changes may need to await the next parliament

At least this may give the community of Kimba and in fact the whole Eyre Peninsula some comfort and respite from their long-standing concerns.


February 5, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: