nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Australia’s beautiful Flinders Ranges to become bonanza nuclear waste site – or nuclear sacrifice zone?

Coalition’s Kimba nuclear dump exploits local area and puts nation at risk https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/coalitions-kimba-nuclear-dump-exploits-local-area-and-puts-nation-at-risk,11717 Noel Wauchope 23 July 2018,

How is a small rural town to cope with a proposition that may transform the community by providing an economic boon or be a long-term curse?

This is the dilemma facing the towns of Kimba and Hawker, both in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.

Individual landowners offered their land to the Turnbull Government for a radioactive waste storage site and the Government’s National RadioactiveWaste Management Facility (NRWMF) team swung into action.

There’s quite a hurry on, about this. Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced that, on 20 August, there will be a local ballot to gauge community support for a nuclear waste dump.

Following that, said Canavan:

“The decision will be made in the second half of this year … We do not want this overlapping with a Federal election.”

Much can be said about this plan, not least that it contravenes South Australian law. One might ask, too, why the inquiry stipulates South Australia when the waste to be stored would have to travel 1,700 km from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney? However, the most notable immediate ramifications concern its impact on Eyre Peninsula rural communities. 

As one local resident put it:

‘Stress levels are through the roof for a lot of people within our communities. People are getting sick, and some are just sick and tired of hearing about it, with many wanting the dump to just go away!’

And in the words of another resident:

‘Before a nuclear waste dump came into our lives, people enjoyed cultural activities together … Today it isn’t like that, a once close family ruined and torn apart all because of a proposed nuclear waste dump that could be put on Adnyamathanha traditional lands, which will destroy our culture and … cause cultural genocide.’

Community division is obvious when one reads the submissions that local and Eyre Peninsula residents have sent to a Senate Committee of Inquiry. The Inquiry called for submissions, stipulating fairly narrow Terms of Reference (TOR), about the ‘Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia’.

Among the 40 supporters of the plan, most are local residents, enthusiastic about hosting the waste dump.

Repeatedly, their submissions include phrases like ‘no negative impacts’ and ‘comfortable and satisfied with the prospect of hosting the proposed nuclear waste facility’ 

 Numbers below in brackets refer to the submission numbers listed on the Senate website.

John Hennessy( No 7), is   “bubbling with enthusiasm” for nuclear waste dump in Hawker. “Hawker has “ a once in a lifetime opportunity”

Jessica Morgan, (no.37) ” I have stood [at ANSTO] next to and touched the canister containing the intermediate level waste with my 9 month old baby in a carrier on my chest, feeling totally confident of my own safety and that of my child.”   

Annie Clements, (No 35) – happy to see nuclear waste dump “powering Kimba community into the future”.

And here we come to another aspect of their support for the waste dump plan. It’s not just that Kimba might be “powered into the future”. It’s the thought that Kimba might not have a future unless it hosts the dump.

Again and again this argument appears in the pro nuclear submissions:

This repository would ensure our towns survival   – Ian Carpenter.( No  3 )

Kimba is struggling, population is declining,… we are in need of a life line …. The possibilities this facility could provide a small failing community is endless  – Jodie Joyce (No 33)

this project  will ensure the long term viability of this small country town – Janice  McInnis, ( No 4 )

it will  save Kimba ” for many more generations to come– Melanie Orman (No 77)

A third, much repeated, theme in these submissions is that this matter concerns only the local community.

This is frequently expressed with the dismissal of the opinions of people outside the immediate area and also, at times, with downright hostility to those who oppose the dump:

‘People outside our area could be influenced by anti-nuclear scare campaigns and wild allegations that have no relevance to this facility.’ ~ Annie Clements (35)

‘Activists and politicians who have been using [this] project as a vehicle for their anti-nuclear stance should not be entitled to any say …’ ~ Heather Baldock (64)

Outsiders do not care if Hawker dies a slow death due to lack of employment etc – Chelsea Haywood (No. 2)

‘We disagree that we need “broader community views” and the need to stretch the boundaries outside of our District Council. What is happening in our Community is exactly that: our community.’  As residents of Kimba for the last 43 years, plus ++ We see no reason that the rest of SA has a right to tell us what we can and can’t have. It is our back yard, not theirs.  ….. . It’s a shame we have to have this inquiry. ~ Margaret and Charlie Milton (34)

These three themes – enthusiasm for the project, distrust of critics,  and resistance to the involvement of outsiders, merge into a kind of strong local patriotism allied to trusting loyalty to the federal government, which has run a huge informational campaign in the towns.

As to the 58 submissions opposing the plan, at least half come from residents of the Eyre Peninsula. As with the rest of the opponents, they do express a variety of arguments, but local submissions are most often concerned with the local area.

Above all, they are dissatisfied with the community consultation process, and the lack of clarity about what is meant by “broad community support”. They want the wider community, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, to be consulted, and, indeed they see the federal nuclear waste facility as a national issue.    They also do not believe that the project has Indigenous support.

Readers of all 98 submissions can’t fail to notice that, on the whole, these 55 opposing ones have more comprehensive, detailed, and referenced writing, as compared with the pro nuclear ones. And this is certainly true of the very thoughtful and measured arguments of the farmers from the local areas concerned.

These raise some issues which are rarely mentioned on the pro-nuclear side:

  • concern about co-location of low and intermediate level wastes, especially the prospect of stranded “temporary” wastes, with no plan for final disposal;
  • transport dangers; 
  • seismic and flood dangers; 
  • impacts on agricultural markets and tourism; and
  • the fear that this waste dump would lead to a full-scale commercial importation of nuclear waste.

 Kay Fels,  a Flinders Ranges farmer.(No 63) ‘s submission is representative of the concerns of many others:

our stock (sheep and cattle) may also be stigmatised by the proximity of the waste dump and our organic status compromised  Agriculture and tourist industries will  be jeopardised as the clean, green image of the Flinders Ranges is tarnished  .    The sites are located in an area where the underground water table is almost at surface level. This could lead to contamination of the underground water source, so vital to the region. The location is also on a piedmont plain and prone to flooding

Given that the proposal is to store low level waste in an above ground facility, and temporarily store intermediate waste in that same facility, it seems ludicrous that this is even considered given the geological and environmental features and risks involved.

The consultation phase was a tokenism with ANSTO telling us what will be happening, how safe it is and pushing the affirmative – not a true reflection of the community’s views and concerns. The consultative committee is a rubber stamp

Many are strongly sceptical of the consultations held by the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS), and of the information campaign by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) . There is strong criticism of the nomination of Wallerberdina property by non-resident former Liberal Senator Grant Chapman, with close links to the nuclear industry. They also claim hypocrisy of DIIS in biased and misleading information, and dismissal and indeed, exclusion of critics. 

  I am not against having a LLW facility in Australia. I am against the way in which DIIS have gone about finding a quick fix for something that will affect all South Australians for centuries to come.  It should not be up to a small council area to overrule our Prohibition Act 2000, if we are to vote for something of such national importance.”  My problem is a complete lack of trust with DIIS in the way in which they have treated ordinary people from Quorn, Hawker and Kimba – Leon Ashton (No 73)

there are far too many discrepancies in the information, consultation process and long term impacts to have such a facility based at Kimba (or Hawker).  the consultation process has been an insult to the intelligence of rural people.  –  Leanne Lienert (No. 50)

Sue Tulloch (no 32) makes a scathing criticism of the federal nuclear waste dump process and “shambolic “Barndioota Consultative Committee.  


Aboriginal voices are passionate, at the same time as providing factual information and references:

The Senate took a long time to publish this one – perhaps because they recognised it as the most important one? Regina McKenzie  (No 107) , a very well informed traditional indigenous owner of the selected are at Barndioota, focuses on the cultural heritage rights and interests of identified traditional owners and the State/Federal obligations  regarding those rights. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) has ignored Australia’s commitment to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. DIIS has poorly assessed Aboriginal cultural heritage, and engaged inappropriate consultants.  –

In this article, I have avoided the wider arguments expressed in the submissions, including the ones from organisations on both sides of the argument.  Through studying 98 submissions, I have tried to get to the feelings of the communities involved – to what it must be like, to be part of a community caught in this dilemma.

 Our biggest worry of this process is the detrimental effect it will have and is already having on the local community as a whole. Along with my family we have never seen an event in this area cause so much angst and division in a once very proud close knit community which was the envy of many other communities.  – Philip Fels (No 84)

The mental health and well-being of communities is completely ignored in this process and this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in future frameworks and guidelines. This process makes communities feel powerless – no support is given to those with opposing views, it is a process that is heavily favoured towards those pro-nuclear and when the rules keep changing to suit those in favour it really gives people a sense of hopelessness. Chloe Hannan,  Kimba :  (No. 61)

As an outsider, I can’t really gauge this social situation. But, whatever the outcome of the federal government’s plan, Kimba and Hawker communities will never be quite the same again

Advertisements

July 25, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: