Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Premier Peter Malinauskas reaffirmed South Australian Labor’s position that the Barngarla people have the right to veto the Kimba nuclear waste dump project

Criticism over site works for SA nuclear waste dump

The Albanese Government has come under fire after it confirmed preliminary works will begin at the site of a proposed national nuclear waste facility on the Eyre Peninsula, despite a Federal Court challenge to the project still being underway.

InDaily Jason Katsaras 16 Nov 22

In correspondence seen by InDaily, federal Resources Minister Madeleine King said preliminary works would begin at Napandee near Kimba, but they were not construction works.

“Site characterisation activities will commence next week on the site, which are low-level, localised investigative studies to gather more detailed data on matters such as the site’s geology, hydrology, seismology and baseline radiological conditions,” she said…………………………………..

the Australian Conservation Foundation said the move effectively pre-empted a court bid to block the project.

“While these works are not the start of facility construction, they are a clear sign of intention and are inconsistent with repeated federal government assurances that it will not pre-empt the outcome of a current Federal Court challenge by Barngarla Native Title holders to the validity of the former government’s selection of the site,” it said.

In December, the local Bangarla people, represented as The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, applied for judicial review of the decision to suspend work on the planned nuclear dump, arguing they weren’t properly consulted before the site was selected.

“This week they will have boots on the ground – it’s a significant escalation and a conscious choice,” ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney said.

“Federal Labor inherited a divisive and deficient approach to radioactive waste management from the former government.

“The decision to commence site works is a poor one, but not an irreversible one. It should not be advanced by a federal Labor government.”

The choice of site for the nuclear waste facility has been a hotly contested issue in the region since the then Liberal Government acquired the 211-hectare agricultural site in Napandee in 2021.

In September, Premier Peter Malinauskas reaffirmed South Australian Labor’s position that the Barngarla people have the right to veto the project.

“I think that the traditional owners of the land on a project as controversial and as significant as this one, and as long-lasting as this one, are entitled to have a say and that is what has underpinned our position,” he said.  https://indaily.com.au/news/2022/11/16/protest-over-site-works-for-sa-nuclear-waste-dump/

November 21, 2022 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

What’s happening with the radioactive waste facility in South Australia?

Ed. I always like it when the nuclear lobby brings up their tired old argument about bananas. It shows their contempt about the intelligence of ordinary people.

“Australian Radioactive Waste Agency CEO Sam Usher standing in front of a 100-tonne TN-81 transport and storage cask that contains intermediate level waste (ILW) at ANSTO’s Interim Waste Store.

The container is so well shielded that a person standing 10m away for one hour would receive the equivalent radiation dose to eating half of one banana. Credit: ARWA.”

When high level nuclear waste is returned to Australia ANSTO reclassifies it as intermediate level on the very weak argument of the classifications in Europe being different to Australia……  it seems ludicrous that it should assume its own manner of classification and against the treaty adopted classifications of IAEA and adhered to by other countries.

Cosmos By Clare Peddie / 18 November 2022,

Multiple hurdles stand in the way, but the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency is pressing ahead with plans for Kimba.

More of a mausoleum than a crypt, the burial chamber planned for Australia’s decaying radioactive waste will consist of free-standing concrete vaults, above-ground, on agricultural land near Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

The first National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) will be 1710km west of Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), by road. That’s an 18-hour drive from Lucas Heights in Sydney, across the Hay Plains and through the Riverland, on the most direct route.

While precise transport routes remain undecided, the federal government is clear that the vast majority (97%) of the waste destined for Kimba will come from ANSTO.

The NRWMF will be the final resting place for Australia’s low-level waste (LLW) and a secure half-way house for intermediate-level waste (ILW), which will be interred for 50 years before being moved to a more suitable facility, below ground.

At least, that’s the current plan. There’s a court case to be heard, a public inquiry to be instigated and a series of regulatory hurdles to be cleared before construction can begin.

2021 Radioactive Waste Inventory

Australia’s National Inventory of Radioactive Waste 2021 reveals ANSTO is expected to produce 12,972 cubic metres of LLW and 3753 cubic metres of ILW. (That adds up to 16,725 cubic metres, out of the national total 17,163 cubic metres.)

Australia has no High Level waste. [ed note: The government and ANSTO reclassify spent nuclear fuel as not being high level waste, but “Intermediate Level“]

OWNERFUTURELEGACYTOTAL
ANSTO10,6652,30712,972
Defence8870158
CSIRO404484
ARPANSA6666
Hospital23*
Other Commonwealth22
Research and education112
Total10,7962,49013,286

Australia’s low level waste, in cubic metres. Source.

OWNERFUTURELEGACYTOTAL
ANSTO2,1981,5553,753
CSIRO621274
Defence22123
ARPANSA2222
Industry33
Hospital1*
Other Commonwealth11
Research and education
Total2,2651,6113,877

Australia’s intermediate level waste, in cubic metres. Source.

On November 29, the Morrison Government’s Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, declared the NRWMF would be established 24km west of Kimba at Napandee, a 211 hectare property.

But the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla People, did not provide consent. And they had made their opposition abundantly clear, in the lead-up to the announcement.

So within a week, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) announced their intent to challenge the Minister’s decision. The application for judicial review was lodged in the Federal Court on December 20 and a separate constitutional challenge followed. The case will go to trial in March.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King says she “will not pre-empt the outcome of the court process currently underway” and has repeatedly refused requests from BDAC, conservationists and Greens Senator for SA, Barbara Pocock, to halt work on the project until the case is heard…………………………..

Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) Chief Executive Officer, Sam Usher, says the declaration of the site was a “significant milestone for Australia and its nuclear industry” and the “culmination of a long process” of site selection.

But it’s also the start of another lengthy process, with many regulatory hurdles along the way…………….

“Even going through the construction, we still need to apply for operating licences for the facility through ARPANSA (the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) … We are not anticipating the facility to become operational until early in the next decade.”

Key regulatory and approval steps

  • Draft Environmental Impact Statement
  • EPBC Environmental Impact Assessment
  • NRWMF Siting License 
  • Safeguards Permit 
  • Public Works Committee Approval
  • NRWMF Construction License
  • NRWMF Operating License

Recruited from the nuclear waste industry in Britain and appointed in January, Usher was called to address the Committee to help resolve the timing of a public inquiry required under state law.

The Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 seeks to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State”.

It states: “If a licence, exemption or other authority to construct or operate a nuclear waste storage facility in this State is granted under a law of the Commonwealth, the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of Parliament must inquire into, consider and report on the likely impact of that facility on the environment and socio-economic wellbeing of this State.”

When the Committee sought Usher’s opinion on the timing of a public inquiry, he suggested the Environmental Impact Statement, “expected to be completed in the next three or four years or so”, would address the “environmental and socio-economic wellbeing impacts” on the state.

But he added that “delivery of the facility is a matter of national importance” and override powers within the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 would be used where necessary.

As ARWA Principal Legal Counsel Kirsty Braybon put it: “Commonwealth legislation puts in place a process whereby we can effectively override the state laws that stop us from doing what we need to do.”

On reflection, Committee chair and Labor MP Jayne Stinson told Cosmos that she felt the “threshold” for a public inquiry had not been met and would not, for a long period of time.

“It’s really the most massive exercise in ‘How long is a piece of string?’. There are so many movable parts in this equation that it’s very difficult to tell, but it is most likely that this could stretch out well beyond the next term of parliament,” she said.

She said the phrase “construct or operate” was significant, pushing the timing of the inquiry further into the future. The Committee would also want to see the court case resolved first, especially as the Premier recently reinforced SA Labor’s long-held position that the Barngarla People should have the right to veto the project.

“In this day and age, when we’re talking about Voice, Treaty and Truth, we can’t just turn around and say, ‘Oh, well, those are our values but in this particular instance, we’re going to ignore the voice of Aboriginal people’. I think that’s just preposterous and it’s inconsistent with what most South Australians would think,” Stinson said.

“So yes, we do think that the voices of Aboriginal people should be front centre in this debate, and I would say that’s not just the view of the Premier, but of our Cabinet and also our Party.”

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation Chair, Jason Bilney, is frustrated about having to fight another legal battle so soon after the two-decade effort to win native title.

While it is true that there is no native title on the site in question, that’s because it is freehold land. The former farm is surrounded by parcels of native title land, within the Barngarla Determination boundary. (Native title is extinguished by certain forms of property tenure).

Mr Bilney maintains that the site is a “very significant place for Barngarla people, we’ve travelled through it, it’s part of our songlines, our storylines and it’s connected to female dreaming, through the aquifers running underneath it”.

Objections to the facility also run deep, because there is a history of past injustices surrounding nuclear weapons testing, so any talk of radioactive waste reopens old wounds. And then there are questions around the “temporary” storage of long-lived radioactive waste.

“We don’t want the dump on our country, and we were excluded from the start,” he says……………………….

Nuclear industry expert  Professor Ian Lowe, says ILW “needs to be securely stored for many thousands of years in a properly engineered site”.

He agrees that the “sensible approach … would be to continue storing the ILW securely at Lucas Heights while there is a proper process of designing a permanent disposal site and consulting communities to negotiate informed consent for a location”.

ARWA is working with CSIRO to review and assess technical ILW disposal options, but this process has barely begun………………………

Money is flowing into the town, with the third round of community grants announced on November 2 injecting a further $2 million into projects such as upgrades to the Kimba District Hospital facilities, a new Kimba Youth and Community Hub, a ‘shop local’ marketing initiative to support local businesses, and refurbishment of the Kimba Op Shop. This builds on $4 million of grants and 50 projects already funded in Kimba under the program.

There’s the promise of 45 ongoing jobs in the facility, plus all of the construction work.

And there’s plenty of work for scientists in the next phase of “site characterisation works” to begin this week…………..  https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/radioactive-waste-facility-australia/

November 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Radioactive waste works at Napandee, South Australia, ‘pre-emptive and unjustified’.

Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Council, 15 Nov 22, Preliminary earthworks at a contested site proposed for a national radioactive waste facility in regional South Australia are pre-emptive and unjustified, Australia’s national environment group says.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has confirmed ‘site characterisation works’ are set to commence this week at Napandee, near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

While these works are not the start of facility construction, they are a clear sign of intention and are inconsistent with repeated federal government assurances that it will not pre-empt the outcome of a current Federal Court challenge by Barngarla Native Title holders to the validity of the former government’s selection of the site.

“Advancing this project at this time is effectively pre-empting the court process,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“This is a political choice, not a radiological requirement. ACF calls on Resources Minister Madeleine King to revisit this decision and reconsider this project.”

The federal waste plan, initiated by the former government and driven by former ministers Canavan and Pitt, faces a growing list of critics as well as a legal challenge.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas recently supported the Barngarla Native Title holders’ right to veto the project and last month the SA Labor state convention stated the waste plan ‘undermines efforts toward reconciliation.’

Eyre Peninsula grain producers, Barngarla people and Unions SA, along with state and national environment, Indigenous and civil society groups, have united in opposition to the plan and the highly curated process.

“Federal Labor inherited a divisive and deficient approach to radioactive waste management from the former government,” Dave Sweeney said.

“The plan is not responsible, necessary or consistent with international best practice or Labor’s stated values and platform.

“The decision to commence site works is a poor one, but not an irreversible one. It should not be advanced by a federal Labor government.”

November 15, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Prep work to start next week on Kimba Nuclear Waste dump, despite Government assurances not to pre-empt court case

 https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/prep-work-to-start-next-week-on-kimba-nuclear-waste-dump-despite-government-assurances-not-to-pre-empt-court-case/?fbclid=IwAR1twuStY12rRYgZ-APTeOHNplE3dAStSxXM19ZZN1KQEkB7S957Bh8UfxQ 11 Nov 2022  Australian Greens

In a letter from Minister for Resources, Madeleine King to Greens Senator Barbara Pocock, it is revealed that despite the ongoing court case against the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), preparatory works will be going ahead starting next week.

In Senate estimates last night, Senator Pocock pushed the Senator representing the Minister for Resources, Tim Ayres, for answers around the future of the Kimba Site.

SA Labor does not support the dump, the SA people do not support the dump and have not been properly consulted, the Traditional Owners have unequivocally opposed it at every opportunity. The Government is continuing to spend $50 000 per week of taxpayer money in legal costs for something with no social license.

Senator Tim Ayres used the ongoing court case to dodge Senator Pocock’s questioning throughout estimates. He stated that the Government would respect and not pre-empt the outcome of the case. Despite this, it’s clear initial works will be proceeding as early as next week as per Minister King’s Letter.

It’s clear the process of site selection was mishandled. The Labor government now has the opportunity to halt works and review the decisions made previously, to show the Kimba community and the Barngarla people that they are committed to proper consultation and respecting first nations voice and rights.

“Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, has today informed me that preparatory works will be starting on the Kimba Site next week. Although it is not construction of the facility yet, this is a significant escalation that goes against reassurance in last nights estimates that court proceedings will be respected.

“Throughout estimates questioning last night, Senator Tim Ayres repeatedly stated that they would respect and not pre-empt the outcome of the court case. The letter I received right before estimates is a direct contradiction to this statement.

“I am deeply concerned that these preparatory works are going ahead.

“The site selection process was done without proper community consultation. This is a terrible decision inherited from the previous government. Labor can still turn this around. They must stay true to their word and immediately halt all works.

November 15, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Friends of the Earth urge all South Australian federal Labor politicians to push for the scrapping of Kimba nuclear waste plan.

From Friends of the Earth – The letter below was sent today to all South Australian federal ALP politicians.

We are writing in regard to the proposed construction of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (nuclear waste dump) at Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia.

We wish to thank the SA Labor Caucus for its resolution at the recent South Australian ALP State Convention supporting “a veto right for the Barngarla community on this facility”. The resolution states, “Continuing with this project, including ancillary earthworks outside of current legal injunctions, despite the opposition of the Barngarla people, undermines efforts toward reconciliation.”

As a Labor Party politician elected to federal parliament to represent South Australia, we urge you to push for the implementation at the federal level of SA Labor’s position on this matter. We are concerned that the current Minister for Resources Madeleine King is following the lead of the bureaucracy in pursuing the former Coalition government’s policy on the nuclear waste dump.

Napandee was announced as the chosen site for the permanent disposal of low level radioactive waste (LLW) and temporary storage of intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW) in February 2020 by then federal resources minister Senator Matt Canavan. It was subsequently officially declared on 26 November 2021 by Senator Canavan’s successor Mr Keith Pitt MP. There is no reason why the current Labor government should allow itself to be bound by policies of the previous government promoted by National Party politicians Senator Canavan and Mr Pitt.

To pursue this project risks undermining the Labor government’s signature policy of enshrining in the Constitution a First Nations Voice to Parliament. A voice to parliament would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. The clear advice from the Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners of this area, is that they don’t want a nuclear waste dump on their land. The Barngarla people were excluded from a community ballot conducted by the Kimba District Council in November 2019, so they conducted their own independent poll. Not a single Traditional Owner voted in favour of the dump.

Besides the Barngarla people, significant other affected communities have not been consulted. A facility that would involve transportation of radioactive waste through South Australia should involve consultation with all communities along the transport route and with the wider public. No such consultation has occurred.

There are better alternatives to a centralised waste dump in regional South Australia. The overwhelming majority of the waste comes from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Lucas Heights facility. The safest and most secure place to continue to manage and store the waste is at Lucas Heights, especially given that the proposed Napandee site would only provide temporary storage for intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW). A final disposal site for ILW would still have to be found. What is the point of double handling it?

We urge you to push for the federal government to promptly overturn the previous government’s declaration of the Napandee site and to cease all work at the site.

November 8, 2022 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

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.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-18/kimba-dump-controversy-continues/101537270?utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=facebook&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR2plCSj2ctHNmhZEHJTvacBN5nsIb-LVQD-pyhMIcnEDkQh0OMdFOCp-Ec

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

The previous Liberal government lied about its Kimba nuclear waste dump plan, but be wary of the new Labor government, too.

I strongly suggest that particularly the Barngarla but the general Kimba community should be extremely cautious of the so- called support by Malinauskas and Maher for the opposition to the waste facility at Kimba as their demands for the nuclear powered submarine fleet to be built or just based in South Australia will generate significant volumes of nuclear waste which will need Kimba its storage and disposal.

Peter Remta, 17 October, While Minister Madeleine King began with great promise as a knowledgable and realistic minister for resources unlike her ministerial predecessor I have been singularly disappointed by her comments in various media outlets including in particular the Saturday’s edition of The Guardian

To say that she is allowing the Barngarla litigation to run its course is ludicrous and none of what she says can in any way justify the continued planning for the facility at Kimba

In view of this I have arranged for the ARTEMIS peer review service of IAEA to undertake a comparative study of the Kimba proposal to other suggested facilities.

What is more they will undoubtedly embarrass the government by showing up its ignorance and incompetence in the realm of nuclear waste which has previously been disguised by a barrage of
disingenuous comments and information.

I am aware that one person of interest in this review is to be Pitt as the former minister since he has shown to have little if any real knowledge of nuclear issues but was happy to disseminate incorrect and even untrue information for presumably his self importance.

However in the meantime it is necessary to ensure that the federal government will grant unfettered entry to Australia for both the ARTEMIS team and the UNHRC special rapporteurs since they have already been stopped on two occasions

Finally I strongly suggest that particularly the Barngarla but the general Kimba community should be extremely cautious of the so- called support by Malinauskas and Maher for the opposition to the waste facility at Kimba as their demands for the nuclear powered submarine fleet to be built or just based in South Australia will generate significant volumes of nuclear waste which will need Kimba its storage and disposal.

Perhaps someone should question him and Maher about their reluctance for an intervention by the State in such a significant national and international issue.

October 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Opponents of nuclear waste facility march as one in Port Augusta to protest.

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-17/opponents-of-nuclear-waste-facility-march-in-port-augusta/101541898?utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=link&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR2tHJX04BCnlWAkP9YKEhyTBs2_nm5OLroG0jA5KDZl4OhOB8SFyIiTMh0 ABC North and West SA / By Bethanie Alderson and Nicholas Ward, 17 Oct 22

More than 100 opponents of a plan to build a national nuclear waste facility on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia have rallied in Port Augusta.

Key points:

  • Scores of people have marched to protest a nuclear waste facility being built in Kimba
  • Traditional owners say they were never consulted about the plans by the federal government
  • The government has spent almost $10 million on legal fees in support for the facility 

Barngarla traditional owners, farmers and community members marched from Port Augusta’s wharf to Gladstone Square to protest the federal government’s proposal to build a nuclear waste site near Kimba. 

The chair of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), Jason Bilney, said if the new government was serious about supporting an Indigenous

voice to parliament, it should listen to their argument.

“It took us 21 years to win our native title; we’ll fight it for another 21 or 25 years if we have to,” he said..

“We are very strong and very passionate about preserving our culture and our heritage as well as protecting our land.

“We don’t want nuclear waste on our country.”

The federal government confirmed detailed investigation work was about to start at the site.

Mr Bilney insisted Barngarla people were never consulted about the plan and found themselves excluded from a community vote.

“Within six months of winning our native title and fighting for 21 years in the Federal Court to get a determination to then be told there’s a nuclear waste dump being built on our country — we had to go out of our way as Barngarla and contact the government,” he said.

“The government’s come out and announced they’ll commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

“How can they on one hand say that and then on the other hand break the heart of the First Nations people?”

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn a mining exploration company’s authorisation to drill at Lake Torrens means Mr Bilney is confident that Barngarla will succeed again.

“It was a very proud moment, and we know that they’re going to appeal it but winning one case for judicial review puts us in a good position for the federal case with the nuclear waste dump,” he said.

‘Huge’ legal spend

Greens Senator Barbara Pocock revealed the federal government had spent almost $9,905,737 on legal fees for the waste facility and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency.

“Ten million dollars is a huge, unnecessary legal spend, much of which has focused on fighting local Kimba residents and a vulnerable First Nations community,” Senator Pocock said.

Since litigation began in December 2021, the government has spent $607,613 directly against BDAC and a further $247,806 on in-house legal salaries.

The Barngarla people spent approximately $124,000 on legal fees over the same period.

“This mega-spend is immoral. It is wasteful, and it is against the spirit of the Uluru statement.”

“We need to find a solution to dispose of our own nuclear waste, but it needs to be safe, it needs to be long term and it needs to not be in the middle of our clean green agricultural land.”

Fight for sacred site

Barngarla elder Linda Dare says Kimba is a site of great significance to traditional owners, and especially for women.

“We have the waters there, the lakes there … and if this goes on it’s actually going to affect our waterways all the way to the Flinders and surrounding areas,” she said.

“It’s very significant because along the way we’ve lost a lot of family members that have been fighting for native title for years when we were little.”

“We know we can fight this, and we know we’ve got the backing of every Indigenous tribe in Australia because it affects everybody in South Australia if there’s any damage.”

Ms Dare and Aunty Dawn Taylor met with Premier Peter Malinauskas and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher during the state government’s country cabinet forum in Port Pirie.

Mr Malinauskas said while the state government did not have the power to stop the planned facility, he would express his support for the Barngarla people to have the right to veto to the federal Labor government.

Mr Bilney believes the Barngarla community needs the whole country to support them in their fight.

“The more support we have locally, state and federally the stronger we become as one,” he said.

October 17, 2022 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Most of Australia’s nuclear waste comes from Lucas Heights – should it stay there?

Opponents of proposed dump site at Kimba in South Australia say it would be safer to keep the waste where it mostly is

Guardian. Tory Shepherd, 17 Oct 22.

he vast majority of Australia’s future radioactive waste will be produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) Lucas Heights facility in Sydney, the latest figures show.

For 40 years governments have pushed for a national radioactive waste storage facility, often claiming it is because currently waste is held at more than 100 sites across the country.

But the latest statistics show almost all of it is in that one facility.

A new inventory of Australia’s radioactive waste, published in September by the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, shows a larger than expected increase in waste in the future.

Australia’s waste is either low level (LLW), which is mainly from laboratories, or intermediate level (ILW), which is from nuclear medicine. ILW emits more radiation and requires more shielding.

There are many variable factors, but the report notes that “the estimated volumes of Ansto’s future LLW and ILW are substantially greater than previously reported”. It estimates the levels of LLW in 100 years and ILW in 50 years.

For LLW, that is a change in how future levels are measured. For ILW, it was a matter of having to revise existing estimates………………………..

Ansto’s waste is estimated to make up 12,972 cubic metres of the country’s 13,287 cubic metres LLW (97.6%) in the next 100 years, and 3,753 cubic metres of the country’s 3,887 cubic metres ILW (96.8%).

Dave Sweeney, the nuclear free campaigner from the Australian Conservation Foundation, is opposed to the federal government’s plan to move the country’s waste to a single facility near Kimba in South Australia.

He says it should stay where it (mostly) is.

“It’s Ansto’s waste facility,” he says. “Ansto’s 97% of intermediate and low level waste. It’s not a national facility. It’s Ansto’s facility.

“It’s absolutely striking.”

Sweeney says Ansto has the capacity to store the waste indefinitely, especially considering a recent $60m investment to expand its storage capacity.

The local Aboriginal people, the Barngarla people, are also opposed to the site being on their traditional lands.

The South Australian Greens senator Barbara Pocock says there is “no pressing problem” with waste storage, so they may as well leave it where it is.

“They’re better off leaving it safely,” she says, “well protected, with all the right safeguards in place, than to pull it out and have a double-handling non-solution.”

Pocock is also concerned about the transport of waste from Lucas Heights and other facilities to the planned South Australian site.

“There hasn’t been a proper discussion in the SA community on the views of the transport of nuclear waste through our communities,” she says.

An Ansto spokesperson says having a single facility is “in line with international best practice”, and moving the waste is in line with commitments given to the Lucas Heights community…………………..  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/oct/17/most-of-australias-nuclear-waste-comes-from-lucas-heights-should-it-stay-there

October 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear waste is growing as battle over dump site heats up

Government says nuclear waste cannot continue to build up and it will work with traditional custodians of proposed Kimba site

Guardian Tory Shepherd 14 Oct 22,

Australia is accumulating more intermediate-level nuclear waste than previously thought, a new inventory has found, as the battle over a nuclear waste dump heats up.

After 40 years of different governments talking about a national nuclear waste facility, the Morrison government chose a site near the town of Kimba in South Australia. But the local Barngarla people are united against the plan, and have vowed to keep fighting to stop it happening.

The federal resources minister, Madeleine King, said the waste “cannot continue to build up” and she would continue to work with the Barngarla people to protect the cultural heritage of the site and deliver economic benefit to the traditional custodians.

Opponents of the site hope the new Labor government will be more likely to abandon the plan, but King said the government was committed to “progressing the facility”……………..

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) recently updated its inventory of waste, to inform the development of the Kimba facility. It found there was 2,061 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste in 2021, compared to 1,771 cubic metres in 2018. And it projects 4,377 cubic metres in the next 50 years, compared to 3,734 cubic metres projected in 2018.

ARWA notes that more waste categories and holders were included in 2021, increasing the current levels of waste, and that estimates for future years were revised.

Currently waste is stored in more than 100 places around the nation, but most of it is held at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) facilities in Lucas Heights, Sydney.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and others argue that Ansto should be expanded to become the national storage site.

The chief executive of Arwa, Sam Usher, wrote in the report that Kimba would be used to dispose of Australia’s LLW, and to hold ILW temporarily while a permanent solution was found.

“To ensure the facility has capacity to house Australia’s current and future waste holdings, ARWA has undertaken extensive work to provide an updated national inventory of radioactive waste,” he wrote.

The Kimba site was announced after an Australian Electoral Commission ballot found the majority of the people in the council area were in favour. However, that ballot did not include Aboriginal people who count the area as part of their traditional lands.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation chair, Jason Bilney, said his people were never consulted, and they are unanimously opposed.

“We were excluded,” he said. “Unanimously, we do not want it on our country.

“We’ll keep fighting this.”

Bilney said his people were organising a rally in Port Augusta on Saturday to remind people what is happening. He said his concern was that the site would start accepting waste from outside Australia. He also said it made more sense for the Lucas Heights facility to expand into waste storage, because the proposed Kimba site was only meant to be temporary storage for ILW anyway, with a permanent site yet to be determined.

“Why would you keep kicking the can down the road?” he said.

There was an ongoing court process with Barngarla people fighting for access to government documents, and King said she would not “pre-empt” the outcome of that. She said nuclear medicine, which most Australians benefit from at some point, produced radioactive waste…………

“While there is no native title on the site, the government is committed to progressing the facility in a way that protects cultural heritage and delivers economic benefit to the traditional custodians.”

The site is freehold, but on the traditional lands of the Barngarla.

Dave Sweeney, the ACF’s nuclear free campaigner, said there was room at Lucas Heights, and pointed to $60m awarded to Ansto in 2021 to expand its storage.

“That’s approved,” he said. “It’s been through the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa).”

“Arpansa has said that it’s consistent with international best practice and that means that material can be safely stored there for decades to come. So they’ve got the capacity, they’re actually growing the capacity.”

The South Australian Labor premier, Peter Malinauskas, supports the Barngarla people, and says he will try to influence the federal Labor government. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/oct/14/australias-nuclear-waste-is-growing-as-battle-over-dump-site-heats-up?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

October 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Friends of the Earth call on Madeleine King, Minister for Resources to overturn the declaration on Kimba nuclear waste site.

The Hon Madeleine King MP

Minister for Resources

Dear Ms King

Kimba Nuclear Waste Dump

We are writing in regard to the proposed construction of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (nuclear waste dump) at Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia. Napandee was declared on 26 November 2021 by Liberal National Party MP Keith Pitt, then Minister for Resources and Water, as the chosen site for the permanent disposal of low level radioactive waste (LLW) and temporary storage of intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW).

We urge you to overturn the declaration of this site by the previous government.

1. First Nations Voice to Parliament
We were greatly encouraged when Prime Minister Albanese, in his election night speech, embraced the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including its call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution. A voice to parliament would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. The clear advice from the Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners of the area, is that they don’t want it. The Barngarla people were excluded from a community ballot conducted by the Kimba District Council in November 2019, so they conducted their own independent poll. Not a single Traditional Owner voted in favour of the dump.

We wish to lend our support to the Barngarla people’s call for their voices to be heard and for the nuclear waste dump proposal to be cancelled. We note that the Premier of South Australia Peter Malinauskas recently reiterated SA Labor policy that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects. South Australia has a law prohibiting the establishment of nuclear waste storage facilities in this state (Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000), which, while not binding on the Commonwealth, should be respected.

2. Process
While a majority of those who were actually allowed to vote in the Kimba community ballot supported the dump, a substantial minority opposed it and the proposal has divided the community. Furthermore, besides the Barngarla people, significant other affected communities have not been consulted. A facility that would involve transportation of radioactive waste to the storage and disposal site should involve consultation with all communities along the transport route and with the wider public. No such consultation has occurred. In fact, transport of repatriated reprocessed intermediate level waste was excluded from the March 2022 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act referral.

3. Better alternatives
In a submission last year to a public consultation about the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF), Friends of the Earth Australia stated (1):

‘Moving LLILW [Long-Lived Intermediate-Level Waste] to an above-ground ‘interim’ store adjacent to a repository for lower-level wastes makes no sense given that much of the waste is currently located at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site, which is properly secured and home to much of Australia’s nuclear expertise. ANSTO also enjoys considerably higher access to nuclear monitoring, security, waste management expertise and emergency response capacity than any other site in the nation.’ 

and

‘Successive governments have assumed that a shallow, remote repository is the best solution for low-level radioactive waste (LLW). That assumption needs to be tested as no federal government has attempted to demonstrate the net benefit of a remote repository. Measured by radioactivity, a large majority of LLW is stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site; measured by volume, ANSTO manages about half the total volume. ANSTO expects to continue to operate at the Lucas Heights site for many decades into the future and it is by no means clear that a remote repository is preferable to ongoing storage at Lucas Heights, especially given the continuing uncertainty around the long-term future management options for LLILW.’

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’s National Inventory of Radioactive Waste released on 6th Sept 2022 shows that ANSTO is the predominant source of existing and future radioactive waste to be disposed and stored at Kimba.

When asked if ANSTO could continue to manage its own waste, Dr Ron Cameron (ANSTO) said, ‘ANSTO is capable of handling and storing wastes for long periods of time. There is no difficulty with that. I think we’ve been doing it for many years. We have the capability and technology to do so.’ (2) More recently, CEO of Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Dr Carl Magnus Larsson, confirmed that ‘Waste can be safely stored at Lucas Heights for decades to come.’ (3)

In light of the above circumstances, you should not feel under any obligation to honour the decision of the previous government. The sooner you cancel this project, the better.

Yours sincerely,

Philip White 12 October 2022
On behalf of Friends of the Earth Adelaide
adelaide.office@foe.org.au

1. Friends of the Earth Australia, ‘NRWMF public consultation: Published response: Submission re Proposed Nomination of Napandee (Kimba, SA) for a National Nuclear Waste Dump and Store’, 22 October 2021:
https://app.converlens.com/industry/nrwmf/survey/view/30

2. ARPANSA forum, Adelaide, 26 February 2004:
http://web.archive.org/web/20040610143043/http://www.arpansa.gov.au/reposit/nrwr.htm#forum

3. Hansard, Parliament of Australia, Economics Legislation Committee, 30/06/2020:
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard/Hansard_Display?bid=committees/commsen/3ae991cf-74a3-4f9e-9f5c-fbc6fccebdf2/&sid=0000

October 13, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) shows that the planned Kimba dump is predominantly for ANSTO’s wastes , NOT for medical wastes.

see new 2-page Briefer “ARWA’s National Inventory of Radioactive Waste shows the Kimba dump is predominantly for ANSTO’s waste” https://nuclear.foe.org.au/…/Inventory-ARWA-Noonan…

Extracts:

ANSTO – Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation – is the predominant source of existing and future radioactive waste to be disposed and stored at Kimba.

ARWA report a five-fold increase in Low Level Waste (LLW) to be disposed at Kimba, with the existing 2 490 m3 LLW intended to increase to a total of 13 287 m3 LLW over the next 100-year period all to be dumped near Kimba.

ARWA states: “The estimated volumes of ANSTO’s future Low Level Waste and Intermediate Level Waste are substantially greater than previously reported.”

ANSTO has produced over 92% of Australia’s existing total LLW Inventory.

ANSTO intend to produce over 98% of future LLW in Australia over the next 100 years.

ANSTO are responsible for over 99.5% of the radioactivity in Australia’s total LLW inventory to be dumped at Kimba.

ARWA reports only a total of 5 (five) m3 of LLW originates from non-ANSTO and non-Commonwealth agency sources

total Hospital existing and future LLW is reported at only 3 m3

total “Research and Education” sector existing and future LLW is reported at only 2 m3

Claims that a national LLW disposal facility is needed at Kimba for hospital and medical waste are false.

ANSTO are near solely responsible for plans to more than double Australia’s total Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) inventory

ANSTO have produced and hold 96.5% of Australia’s existing ILW packaged inventory at Lucas Heights

ANSTO propose to generate 97% of future ILW in Australia over the next 50-year period

ARWA reports Australia’s total inventory of ILW including nuclear materials, existing and future wastes over the next 50-year period, is 4 377 m3, these hazardous wastes are to be transported to Kimba for indefinite above ground storage.

Hospitals are stated to hold a total of only a single m3 of existing ILW with no future ILW arising.

Nuclear materials feature ANSTO’s nuclear fuel wastes – that were described as “highly hazardous” material by ARPANSA’s inaugural CEO John Loy in evidence to an NSW Parliamentary Inquiry.

Based on ARWA’s Report, all non-ANSTO sources produce on average only approx. 1.3 m3 per year of LLW over the next 100 years and produce approx. 1.34 m3 per year of ILW over the next 50 years.

October 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia’s chairman, two directors, say they’ll resign after pressure from Rio Tinto and traditional owners

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-03/nt-rio-tinto-calls-for-era-chairman-to-resign/101497342?utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=link&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR3v3JbtHkVxHubJeOaWROwz0GqlpR_9Lhmx_RkoCpSr2oBelxPKoBddv34 By Daniel Fitzgerald,

The chairman and two directors of a company responsible for cleaning up a massive uranium mine on the edge of Kakadu have announced their intention to resign, following pressure from its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, and criticism from traditional owners.

Key points:

  • Energy Resources of Australia is responsible for the clean-up of Ranger uranium mine, on the edge of Kakadu
  • Its chairman and two directors have announced their intention to resign, after pressure from Rio Tinto 
  • It comes after a commissioned report suggested the company could consider developing a second uranium mine in the region

Rio Tinto on Monday publicly called for Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) chairman Peter Mansell to resign, four days after an independent report commissioned by the company suggested it could consider developing a second uranium mine next to Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr traditional owners have long objected to the potential mining of the ERA-owned Jabiluka uranium deposit — a position which Rio Tinto supports — and fiercely rejected the suggestion they might allow it to be mined.

Mr Mansell and two other directors not affiliated with Rio Tinto this afternoon said they would resign, “once a clear funding solution” for the cash-strapped company is arrived at.

In a statement to the ASX, ERA said the three board members would resign, “noting the requests from Rio Tinto” for Mr Mansell to consider his position.

Mine clean-up could cost $1.2 billion more than expected

ERA said the directors notified Rio Tinto of their intention to resign last week, before Rio Tinto’s public announcement.

Earlier this year, ERA estimated rehabilitation works could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take workers until 2028 to complete the job — two years longer than initially planned.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker said the company was committed to the rehabilitation of the Ranger mine “in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the Mirarr people”.

“However, given our recent dealings with the Independent Board Committee [IBC] and last week’s release of the Grant Thornton valuation report, we do not believe that can be achieved without renewal within ERA’s board,” Ms Parker said.

“There remains a strong difference of opinion between Rio Tinto and the IBC on the terms of rehabilitation funding, with the IBC’s view that successful rehabilitation could underpin potential future growth opportunities, despite the Mirarr people’s long-held opposition to further uranium mining on their country.”

Justin O’Brien, the chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr people, said the Commonwealth may need to step in to ensure the safe clean-up of Ranger.

“We are extremely concerned that the Commonwealth is relying on a company that has publicly announced it does not have the funds to complete the rehabilitation work,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This public stoush over whether or not ‘magical’ uranium deposits in a World Heritage listed wetland and indigenous cultural landscape should be mined is a question of national public policy.”

On June 30, ERA had $132 million cash in hand and $537 million held by the Commonwealth government in a trust fund for the Ranger rehabilitation.

Rio Tinto said while a funding solution for the rehabilitation was being agreed, the company was “progressing discussions to amend an existing $100 million credit facility to assist ERA with its management of immediate liquidity issues”.

An ERA report released in August said cost overruns on the Ranger rehabilitation “have been caused by a number of factors including complexities in technical risk management, project delays and additional scope matters involving unbudgeted costs”.

Legislation was introduced to Federal parliament last month to grant ERA an extension to its rehabilitation schedule.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Kimba community groups need to pose these hard questions to Ministers Madeleine King and Ed Husic, and to ANSTO ARWA and ARPANSA

In order to establish fully and properly the breaches by the federal government as to its Kimba nuclear installation, community group opposing the installation proposals need to immediately send out this formal request to the various persons and organisations listed below

KIMBA COMMUNITY
Formal requests for Kimba proposals:

  1. What are the earthworks being carried out or planned in connection with
    the government’s proposed nuclear waste facility
  2. Are these earthworks confined to the Napandee farm site
  3. If not what other land in the Kimba region is affected by the earthworks
  4. How much actual physical work has been carried
  5. By whom and how was this work authorised
  6. Was any licence issued by ARPANSA for his work
  7. If not and why not as is required by the guidance codes and standards of
    IAEA
  8. Was a progressive safety case started for these earthworks
  9. If not how was the work justified without community consultation and
    involvement
  10. How have the environmental aspects of these earthworks been dealt with
  11. Have there been any environmental studies done
  12. Has the community generally been consulted on the environmental studies
    or referrals
  13. Will the community be involved by consultation as to all aspects of the
    earthworks as to the environmental implications

PLEASE immediately provide:
• the plans and other details for for the earthworks
• the environmental studies and assessments for this work
• any licences or applications for licences
• a full copy of the environmental referral

This list of requests should given to:
Hon. Madeleine King Hon. Ed Husic as the responsible ministers
The chief executive officers of ARWA ANSTO and ARPANSA
Meghan Quinn PSM as the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Science,
Energy and Resources
Andrew Metcalfe AO as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water
and the Environment

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Greens Senator Barbara Pocock calls on the Federal Government to suspend work on South Australian nuclear waste site

Call to suspend work on SA nuclear waste site InDaily , Stephanie Richards, 20 Sept22, The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation in December applied for judicial review in an attempt to thwart construction of the controversial radioactive waste storage facility at Napandee near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula, arguing they weren’t properly consulted before the site was selected.

Despite the active legal challenge, the Federal Court was told in June that the government had already approved plans to begin earthworks.

That prompted South Australian Greens Senator Barbara Pocock to last week write to federal Resources Minister Madeleine King asking her to commit to suspending all preparatory work and construction at the site pending the outcome of the court proceedings.

“The Barngarla people are unanimously opposed to the waste dump,” she wrote in the letter, seen by InDaily.

“The site is an important part of their culture and heritage, yet they were not consulted on the proposal.

“In light of the Barngarla opposition and lack of consultation, I write to ask that you commit to suspending all preparatory work and construction in relation to building the waste dump at Napandee, pending the outcome of the current judicial review and court proceedings underway.”

……………………….new information released by the federal government reveals it is spending three times more than Barngarla Traditional Owners fighting the project in the Federal Court.

In response to a question on notice lodged by Pocock, the government stated that between December and July, it had spent $343,457.44 on legal fees.

That compares to the approximate $124,000 spent by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation over the same period.

The Native Title group estimates that the total cost incurred by the federal government would run into the millions.

Pocock said the disparity between the spending was “disproportionate and just unfair”.

“This is a David and Goliath case,” she said.“The spend so far shows that the government is doing all in their power to minimise the voices and traditional rights of the Barngarla people.”…………….

The Napandee site was selected by the former Morrison Government in November last year, with then Resources Minister Keith Pitt saying the government had secured “majority support” from the local community after more than “six years of consultation”.

But Barngarla Traditional Owners opposed the project and argued they were not included in the consultation.

South Australian Labor has long called for Barngarla people to have the right to veto the project, with Premier Peter Malinauskas telling ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that the state government had expressed its views to the federal government…………..

 https://indaily.com.au/news/2022/09/20/call-to-suspend-work-on-sa-nuclear-waste-site/?fbclid=IwAR112RR7jtDs6_ZDGb98Do0kqLRnWhuhoZAb-esAG6tp9WaB5F1YHIIPWM4

September 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment