Australian news, and some related international items

Federal minister visits South Australian site for nuclear waste as legal challenge continues

ABC North and West SA / By Nicholas Ward

Works to establish Australia’s first national nuclear waste facility near Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula are continuing apace, despite ongoing legal disputes surrounding the project.

Key points:

  • Site preparation works for the nation’s nuclear waste storage are well underway
  • More federal money for the host town of Kimba is reliant on the facility’s construction
  • The federal resources minister says there are currently no plans to store high-level nuclear waste at the site

Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King, who is responsible for the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA), made her first visit to the town this week to inspect the chosen site at Napandee.

Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King, who is responsible for the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA), made her first visit to the town this week to inspect the chosen site at Napandee.

“The studies being taken out at the site at the moment are site-characterisation studies,” she said.

They are entirely remedial. They are what I would call small-scale.

“There is a cultural heritage management plan that is informed by the research of the Barngarla people.

“There are strict protocols around the work that is going on right now to make sure there is no disturbance of cultural heritage.”

‘Reversible’ preparation underway

ARWA Safety and Technical general manager David Osborne said concurrent works at the site included tests of its seismology, hydrology and background radiation.

“We have to do all of this work before we can even think about construction,” he said.

“This is about gathering information and all of the work is reversible. We’re simply collecting information that any organisation would do before a construction project.”

Mr Osborne said the work was anticipated to take between 18 months to two years to complete.

Meeting to address concerns

Local grain farmer Peter Woolfood met with the minister to express concerns about the facility’s threat to the region’s “clean, green, agricultural image”.

“We just can’t understand why you would expose this great agricultural industry we have here in grain production to any potential risk at all by having a nuclear waste dump here,” he said.

“Australia’s a big place, so there are plenty of areas this could go without impacting people or industries, simple as that.”

Ms King said those concerns had been taken on board and made assurances that the facility would only be used to store low and intermediate-level nuclear waste.

“There is no high-level waste produced in Australia and there will not be high-level waste stored at the facility so far as planned,” she said.

More money tied to construction

Kimba District Council has benefited from a $6 million federal grants program, currently in its final round, for waste site candidates.

Another $20 million is in the pipeline for the community, but the minister says several hurdles need to be cleared before the money can flow.

“The facility has to get its operational licence. That does require construction and construction is a long way off,” Ms King said.

“There is a judicial review [involving the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation] going on right now and it depends on the outcome of that case.”

Kimba District Council Mayor Dean Johnson gave the minister a tour of the town’s new $1 million medical centre, funded by federal grants.

He said that despite legal challenges, there was a growing expectation that the town’s future was fixed.

“Ultimately, Napandee [the waste site] is earmarked as the final site for the national radioactive waste facility and we believe that will happen,” he said.


January 14, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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