Australian news, and some related international items

Concerns in outback SA grow as federal government plans to store defence waste at planned Kimba nuclear dump

ABC By Sara Tomevska, 18 Oct 22,

The federal government is facing questions over how it will dispose of highly-radioactive waste produced by Australia’s future nuclear-powered submarine fleet, as concerns about a controversial nuclear dump in outback South Australia grow.

Key points:

  • The federal government chose a site near Kimba for its nuclear waste site in 2021
  • Locals are now concerned high-level nuclear defence waste could be stored at the site
  • There are two legal challenges underway to block the site from going ahead

After 40 years of searching, the federal government last year announced it had chosen Napandee, a 211-hectare property near the town of Kimba, to consolidate Australia’s low-and-intermediate nuclear waste……….

 last June, the federal parliament passed a range of amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act.

One of the changes allows defence waste to be stored at the site too.

Fourth generation wheat farmer Terry Schmucker has long opposed the dump, fearing the site could lead to contamination.

“As a farmer have become connected to the land and I’ve come to realise how precious topsoil and agricultural land are,” he said.

He said the changes to legislation had added to his anxiety. “I always expected that the dump was the thin end of the wedge … but it’s disappointing that the government hasn’t come straight out and said ‘this is how it is’,” he said. 

A Department of Defence spokesperson said Australia’s defence programs already generated a “range of low-level radioactive waste” which was currently stored in two temporary facilities.

In September 2021, three months after the amendment bill passed through parliament, former Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS defence pact.

Mr Schmucker said the deal raised “serious questions” about how and where the federal government would dispose of high-level radioactive waste generated by the submarines.

“I think it’s going to come here, that’s just the way it is,” he said.

“If the waste site is set up at Kimba, there’s nothing to stop [the government] from bringing even worse stuff than what’s going to come out of the submarines and putting it here in agricultural land.”

Could submarine waste really end up in Kimba?

The legislation explicitly prevents high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel — which is what the submarines would produce — from being dumped at the Napandee site.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) chairman Jason Bilney said he was concerned that could be changed with the stroke of a pen.

“We all know what the government is like, the government can change that at any given time and try and slip it through,” he said.

Former senator and submariner Rex Patrick was part of the parliament that passed the legislation, and said he believed it was unlikely that protection would ever be removed.

“The parliament that passed the facility were of the clear understanding that high-level material would not be stored at the site,” he said.

“Now, of course, [legislation] can be changed by a future parliament. And so, there is a risk there.


October 18, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, weapons and war

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