No consensus on [radioactive] waste dump plan

The lack of broad support for Federal Government plans for a national radioactive waste dump at Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been exposed today in a new Senate report.

The Senate report reflects growing divisions about how to manage radioactive waste in Australia, with government members supporting the plan while Labor, Greens and independent Senators either raised serious concerns or actively opposed the plan.

The inquiry was established to examine controversial changes to national radioactive waste laws in order to secure the Kimba site and prevent this decision from being subject to judicial review.

“This is a deeply deficient plan based on a flawed and restrictive process,” Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney said.

“That one Committee inquiry has generated four separate responses from Senators shows there is no consensus on the plan.

“The Coalition-dominated majority report predictably supported the waste plan, while the three other responses are critical.

“The government’s proposal would lead to potentially dangerous waste management, including trucking radioactive waste from Lucas Heights in Sydney through our communities and dumping it on South Australian farmland. This is actively opposed by many in the wider region, including the Barngarla Traditional Owners who have been consistently excluded from the consultation process.

“This is not a credible plan. Australians deserve better than an approach which lacks credibility, is inconsistent with international standards, and shirks hard questions about what to do with the worst waste.”

The federal waste plan has drawn criticism and opposition from a range of civil society and community groups and South Australia’s Labor opposition. Federal Labor voted against the plan in the House of Representatives in June. Key concerns with the plan include:

  • There is no pressing need for a centralised national waste storage site. The federal nuclear regulator ARPANSA says there is no urgency to move the most problematic waste from where it is stored at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisations (ANSTO) reactor site at Lucas Heights.
  • The unnecessary double-handling and transport of intermediate level waste from an above-ground extended interim storage facility at ANSTO to an above-ground extended interim storage facility in a less-resourced regional area is inconsistent with best practice.
  • The bill would disproportionately and adversely affect Barngarla Traditional Owners.
  • There has been no consultation outside the immediate region. Communities on the wider Eyre Peninsula and along the extensive transport corridors have not been consulted.

Read ACF’s 3-page background brief on the federal radioactive waste plans

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