Caretaker not caretaking as SA in firing line for national nuke dump

29 April 2016

Caretaker not caretaking as SA in firing line for national nuke dump

Canberra appears to be repeating the mistakes of the past by targeting a site for a national nuclear waste dump in the face of significant and sustained Aboriginal community opposition.

“There is strong, broad and sustained Aboriginal opposition to turning Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges into an industrial nuclear waste facility.  This is a region of huge cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners. The proposed site is right next to an Indigenous Protected Area,” said Chief Executive of Conservation SA, Craig Wilkins.

“From a South Australian community perspective, the nuclear waste dump issue is a mess: this Friday Josh Frydenberg has opened the door to a national nuclear waste dump, next Friday Kevin Scarce is set to open the door for the world’s nuclear waste.  Yet, it appears these two parallel processes aren’t talking to each other.  That is incredibly disrespectful and unsettling for regions in the firing line.  Communities simply don’t know what they are facing,” he said.

The expectation was that a short list of 6 possible national waste dump sites would be pruned to 2-3 for further investigation.  Yet, in the shadow of a Federal election campaign that has now been changed to just one – part owned by an ex Liberal Party President and Senator, Grant Chapman.

“The Turnbull Government appears to be motivated more by ‘caretaker’ than ‘caretaking’.  They have removed politically sensitive communities on the Eastern seaboard from a potentially divisive election issue, but have kept SA in the frame.

 “The Federal Government says it is not a done deal – we intend to keep them to that commitment.  This site at Barndioota does not have broad community support.

Any national waste facility will not just receive low level medical waste, but contain the highest level of nuclear waste currently in Australia – long lived intermediate waste including reprocessed fuel rods from Lucas Heights.

“There is a massive spin job underway to give the impression that any national waste dump site will just bury a few gloves from nuclear medical waste. Yet, Flinders Ranges is now in the frame to house spent nuclear fuel rods above ground in a region known for flash flooding for 100 years until they work out a long term option.

“We are concerned that Minister Koutsantonis, on behalf of the South Australian Government, appears to be welcoming a poor proposal that breaks South Australian law.

“This is not an economic and employment solution for SA – we are talking about a maximum of just 6 ongoing jobs in monitoring and maintenance.  Yet it puts at risk the image of one of the state’s tourism icons: the Flinders Ranges.

 “Nuclear waste has an enormous power to divide and fracture communities. It is deeply disappointing SA remains in the firing line,” he said.

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