ABC News: Nuclear waste storage proposal draws ire of SA regional community on the ground

ABC North and West
By Angela Smallacombe
21 September 2016

Plans for a high-level nuclear waste dump being touted by the South Australian Government have found strong opposition at ground level, according to an unofficial ABC poll.

The ABC North and West breakfast program, based in Port Pirie, asked listeners whether they were for, against, or undecided regarding the State Government's proposal to import nuclear waste from other countries and store it in South Australia.

Eighty per cent of respondents were against the nuclear plans, 15.29 per cent were for the plans, and 4.71 per cent were undecided.

Votes were taken via text messages and phone calls, with 85 responses to 10am, but the "no" responses continued for hours afterwards.

The results came from listeners in the regional area that holds nuclear sites Maralinga, Radium Hill, Roxby Downs and Beverly Uranium Mine.

Listeners were also in areas previously mooted for nuclear waste facilities at Kimba, Woomera and a property near Hawker that is still being considered for a federal project to house domestic nuclear waste.


Many concerned about impact on environment

The State Government has launched a statewide public consultation program about its proposal to store high-grade nuclear waste.

At the same time, the Federal Government has shortlisted the Hawker site to store low-to-intermediate level radioactive waste.

Many concerns focused on the future impact of a proposed waste dump on the environment.

"No, definitely not — huge liability for our children and grandchildren," one respondent wrote.

"Dumping nuclear waste in SA is pretty much the worst idea ever. It's an example of the kind of short-term thinking and quick-buck selfishness that is literally destroying this country. Stop it now," wrote another.

Whyalla resident Roma drew parallels with environmental issues around the closure of the Port Augusta Power Station, and fly ash causing air pollution, saying if authorities could not keep that problem under control, "how can they keep us safe if something goes wrong with nuclear waste?"


Supporters tout economic benefits

The ABC's poll suggested supporters of the proposed dump were in favour of the economic benefits for South Australia.

There were 13 supporters in total, including former Liberal member for Shubert Ivan Venning and former Liberal member for Stuart Graham Gunn, who called in to the radio show.

Both retired politicians have travelled internationally to see nuclear waste facilities.

Mr Venning said he had sat on top of a high-level core and "felt the warmth coming out of it".

Mr Gunn voiced his support for keeping options open, and said he was confident a facility built to the highest standards would be an advantage to the people of South Australia.

"When Roxby Downs was established, I happened to be the local member [and] there was the same sort of opposition, the same sorts of comments being made," he said.

"Today, everyone accepts that it's a very important part of the South Australian economy and I believe there'll probably be other uranium mines developed in South Australia.

"If we want to continue with this industry and get the best out of it, I believe that we've got to look very seriously at taking back some of this waste in a suitable location, which is away from areas where there's agricultural and pastoral industries, but there were lots of other places in South Australia."

Addressing the proposition opponents were more vocal than supporters, the Conservation Council of SA's Craig Wilkins said they were not.

"In fact, there's been an incredible chorus sprung up around this Royal Commission in favour of it, backed up by an extraordinary amount of money that's been spent by the Government to try and push this out through the roadshow that's underway, the citizens jury and a range of other mechanisms," Mr Wilkins said.

Read the full story here

Support us and get involved

Contact Conservation SA on (08) 8223 5155, [email protected], or at our offices at the Joinery at 111 Franklin Street, Adelaide.

Created using NationBuilder