Destructive Process & Oversold Benefits: New Report questions nuke dump economic case, as Govt ballot postponed
20 August 2018
A new report into the claimed economic benefits to regional communities of the Federal Government nuclear waste facility has found the government has exaggerated the benefits, and not properly factored in insurance costs and other risks.
The report’s release comes as the Federal Government scrambles to fix up a controversial community ballot process in the wake of a Supreme Court injunction. The ballot was due to begin today (Monday) in the two affected communities of Kimba and Hawker.
“This whole process has been poorly conducted and horribly divisive from day one,” said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of the state’s peak environment body, Conservation SA.
“Knowing how reluctant many people in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges are to having a nuclear waste dump in their backyard, the Federal Government has greatly over-sold the economic benefits to try and buy community support.
“This report is a reality check for a community sick of the spin from the Federal Government,” he said.
Conservation SA commissioned economic think tank The Australia Institute to examine more closely Federal Government’s claims of an economic windfall for the affected communities.
The “Down in the Dumps” report compared the current Australian National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) plans with similar facilities overseas, and found a raft of exaggerated jobs and economic return claims. For example, a proposed facility in Canada which is more than one hundred times larger with more functions and features, will cost only half as much to construct and operate.
As the report’s author, Dr Cameron Murray, states: ‘Either the waste facility is orders of magnitude larger than need for Australia’s nuclear waste, or the government has exaggerated the economic returns to the local community of the NRWMF facility’.
It also questioned the true value of the promised $31 million in local grants and infrastructure promises, as some of this appears to be double-counting, re-labelling of other programs or matched by cuts to other funding streams.
Adjusting the economic impact assessment to account for the exaggerated claims reduces the number of net full time jobs down to just 6.
“At the end of the day, the case for shifting waste across from Sydney to South Australia simply doesn’t stack up,” said Mr Wilkins.
“Why is the Federal Government pushing so hard to move Australia’s highest risk radioactive waste from Lucas Heights where it is safely and securely stored, to park it in SA in temporary sheds while they work out what to do with it?
“Wouldn’t it be better to work out the final disposal plan first, including the true cost and benefit to the local community, and then move it once when everything is sorted?
“Double handling is incredibly wasteful, is not international best practice, and makes no sense in terms of public health or radiation safety.
“It is time for the Federal Government to apologise, walk away and put in place a credible pathway for a long term, permanent solution to nuclear waste stored at Lucas Heights,” he said.
The full report can be found here.
Dr Cameron Murray, The Australia Institute, 0422 144 674
Craig Wilkins, Conservation SA, 0417 879 439