The Federal Government intends to select a site for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in regional South Australia by the end of 2018.
This would be used for the disposal of low-level waste and the indefinite storage of long-lived intermediate-level waste.
Currently there is no further plan or place identified for the future management of this waste, some of which needs to be isolated for up to ten thousand years.
The Federal Government has asked members of the Flinders Ranges and Kimba communities to participate in a community ballot on the waste issue.
The ballot was due to be open from August 20 to September 24. However, it did not include all affected people. Consequently, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) sought an injunction in the Supreme of South Australia. The matter has been referred to the Human Rights Commission and the ballots in both areas are on hold until a ruling is made.
Despite repeated requests the Federal Government has not defined how this will be counted or what constitutes ‘broad community support.’
The government has provided some project information but key details remain uncertain including how long the intermediate-level waste would remain in your district, waste acceptance criteria and who would build and operate the facility.
The results of the ballot are not binding on the government. You can still have your say by sending a submission to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science. Write your own or use our online submission system - details below.
The devil is in the detail or — in this case — the lack of detail.
This decision will have implications for generations to come and should not be rushed.
Is this really the best Australia can do? Is it worth the risk?
1. This is not simply a site for ‘gloves and gowns’. This facility would be home to Australia’s most dangerous radioactive waste. Intermediate-level waste planned for indefinite storage at the site requires isolation for up to 10,000 years.
2. There is no end date for the storage of intermediate level waste prior to its later disposal. Most of the waste is currently stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site in NSW. Why move it twice? Double handling makes no sense in terms of public health, radiation safety or project cost and is not consistent with international best practice.
3. There are significant cultural heritage concerns at both sites and opposition from many Aboriginal Traditional Owners.
4. Continuing and secure access to nuclear medicine for all Australians is not dependent on a federal nuclear waste facility and the absence of such a facility has not hindered the practice of nuclear medicine.
5. South Australia has long-standing laws against non-SA radioactive waste dumping or storage. The federal plan is against state law.
6. The employment promises lack evidence and have been inflated since the ballot was announced. There are no guarantees about the number of local jobs.
7. The amount of money being offered to communities has also been inflated since the ballot was announced and how it is allocated remains at the discretion of the federal Minister.
8. Responsible radioactive waste management is a national issue that requires national scrutiny. It should not be the primary burden or sole choice of voters in a specific part of regional South Australia.
9. Agriculture and tourism are both market-sensitive sectors and any planned facility could negatively impact these industries.
10. Transport routes for radioactive waste have not been made public. Government documents show the waste could be transported through local ports including Whyalla or Port Pirie.
11. This decision is being driven by politics, not by science or need. Minister Canavan wants to select a site before the next federal election for political reasons, not because he has to. The federal regulator has stated that the ANSTO waste is safe where it is and there is no urgent need to move it.
12. Despite repeated requests, the Federal Government has refused to define ‘broad community support’ or how it will be measured. Shifting the goalposts does not lead to community confidence.
Send a submission to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS)
The Department is calling for submissions about the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in Kimba or the Flinders Ranges and says these will be "one of the factors the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia may take into account when determining broad community support for the Facility."
Minister Canavan is hoping to select a site in October – if you or others who are interested are not eligible to vote in the community you are still able to make a comment and express your view.
Making a submission
Toll free number: 13 28 46
Submissions can be made by:
- Our quick and easy online submission system - just click here.
- or, write your own
Post: The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
National Radioactive Waste Section
GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601
The department will be accepting submissions until the end of the community consultation process, the date of which is unknown.
If you have done a previous submission or comment prior to 1 August 2018 you can contact the Department and let them know that you wish that to be taken as your view. Please note that these submissions are not the same as those made to the Senate Inquiry.