FoE Australia, Media Release, 29 Nov 2021
The Morrison government’s plan to impose a national nuclear waste dump at Kimba still faces multiple hurdles despite today’s announcement from Minister Keith Pitt that the site has been formally declared and land acquired. Those hurdles include a judicial challenge to the declaration, environmental assessment, assessment by the federal nuclear regulator ARPANSA, a state parliamentary inquiry, and upcoming state and federal elections.
The Howard government had proceeded further towards imposing a dump on SA before abandoning the plan in 2004.
Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “The Morrison government’s disgraceful efforts to override the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners will be challenged in the courts. Barngarla Traditional Owners are expected to launch a judicial challenge following today’s announcement.
“Traditional Owners were excluded from the government’s sham ‘community ballot’ so they held their own ballot. When the results of the government’s ballot and the Barngarla ballot are combined, support falls to 43%, short of a majority and well short of the 65% that the government indicated was the benchmark to determine ‘broad community support’.
“Premier Steven Marshall’s support for a nuclear waste dump that is unanimously opposed by Barngarla Traditional Owners is unconscionable, crude racism and Friends of the Earth calls on the Premier to support Traditional Owners ‒ and all South Australians ‒ instead of shamefully falling into line behind his undemocratic, racist federal colleagues.
“The SA Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act was an initiative of the SA Olsen Liberal government to prevent the imposition of an intermediate-level nuclear fuel waste dump in SA. The state legislation was strengthened by the Rann government in 2002. Premier Marshall should fight Canberra’s push to dump nuclear waste on SA and to override state legislation, as did Premier Olsen and Premier Rann.
“The Act mandates a state Parliamentary inquiry in response to any attempt to impose a nuclear waste dump on SA and the Premier should initiate that inquiry immediately.
“The proposed nuclear dump will be contested at the SA and federal elections. Friends of the Earth welcomes SA Labor’s policy that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects given the sad and sorry history of nuclear projects in this state. Deputy Leader Susan Close says that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to the federal government targeting the Kimba site.
“The government’s claim that most of the waste arises from nuclear medicine is a blatant lie. The claim that 45 permanent jobs will be created is implausible. When the Howard government planned a dump in SA, it said there would be zero jobs.
“Measured by radioactivity, well over 90% of the waste is long-lived intermediate-level reactor waste that the federal government wants to store above ground at Kimba until such time as a deep underground disposal facility is established. No effort is being made to find a location for such a facility so this long-lived waste would remain stored above ground in SA ad infinitum. The only deep underground nuclear waste repository in the world, in the US state of New Mexico, was closed in 2014 following an underground chemical explosion in a nuclear waste barrel.
“Intermediate-level waste should be stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site until a suitable disposal facility is available. The Morrison government’s plan to move intermediate-level waste from secure above-ground storage at Lucas Heights to far less secure storage at Kimba is absurd and indefensible.
“South Australians fought long and hard to prevent the Howard government turning SA into the nation’s nuclear waste dump. We fought and won the campaign to stop the Flinders Ranges being used for a national dump. We fought and won the campaign to stop SA being turned into the world’s high-level nuclear waste dump. And now, we will fight until the Morrison government backs off.
Background information: www.nuclear.foe.org.au/waste
Nuclear Waste: Kicking the radioactive can down the road.
Temporary storage is substandard and a waste of money.
Medical Association for Prevention of War, Media Release, 29 November 2021
Today Resources Minister Keith Pitt confirmed Kimba will be home to a nuclear waste facility.
“This announcement is accompanied by the usual misinformation and unrealistic promises that have featured in this whole sorry saga.” said Dr Margaret Beavis from the Medical Association for Prevention of War.
“Minister Pitt focuses on low level radioactive waste, not mentioning the intermediate level waste from the reactor and other sources that is radioactive for over 10,000 years. Temporary storage is not world’s best practice. It is just kicking the can down the road.”
The role of nuclear medicine production in existing waste has been grossly overstated (https://www.arpansa.gov.au/about-us/what-we-do/international-collaboration/joint-convention/previous-reports)
There will always be multiple radioactive waste sites – hospitals store waste after patients are treated, as after several weeks it has lost so much radiation it can go to a normal rubbish tip.
The “community consent” process was deeply flawed. “This process has featured repeated misinformation, a non-representative ballot based on town boundaries, and a complete disregard of native title holders’ unanimous opposition.” said Dr Beavis.
“The job promises are totally unrealistic when compared with overseas facilities.”
Earlier this year at Senate hearings ANSTO acknowledged it had capacity to store intermediate waste for up to fifty years. Lucas Heights has the expertise, experience and security. World’s best practice is deep geological disposal, not putting radioactive waste in a shed on farm land.
“Moving intermediate level waste to South Australia is risky, a waste of public money and may well leave South Australians with a highly radioactive stranded asset.” said Dr Beavis.
Pitt’s radioactive waste dump plan lacks a rationale and social licence
Australian Conservation Foundation, Media Release, 29 November 2021
Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s formal declaration of Napandee, near Kimba in regional South Australia, as the location for a co-located radioactive waste disposal and storage facility is likely to see an escalation in community contest and opposition, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
ACF’s concerns with the plan include:
- No consent from the region’s Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people. Barngarla were actively excluded from key ‘consultation’ processes, including a highly restricted community ballot.
- The planned facility is unnecessary given federal parliament’s recent support for a $60 million waste storage upgrade to secure the most problematic intermediate level waste (ILW) at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Lucas Heights nuclear site for the next three to five decades.
- Moving intermediate level waste from ANSTO, a site with many institutional assets – security, radiation monitoring and emergency response, local expertise etc – to a site near Kimba with far fewer assets and resources is irresponsible and inconsistent with best industry practice.
Further concerns are outlined in ACF’s 3-page background brief on radioactive waste plans.
“The Kimba plan is effectively redundant on the day Minister Pitt has made his decision,” said ACF’s national nuclear-free campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Extended storage of Australia’s most problematic waste at Lucas Heights where most of it is already stored, makes far more economic, environmental and radiological sense than the ill-considered Kimba plan.
“Sites that currently store and manage nuclear medicine waste around Australia will still need to do so, irrespective of the status of any national facility, so the Minister’s repeated reference to nuclear waste being spread across 100 sites is disingenuous and inaccurate.
“The planned federal action is contrary to SA state law and does not enjoy bi-partisan political support.
“Fewer than one thousand South Australians have had a say in a plan that has profound inter-generational implications.
“This is particularly concerning given the prospect of project creep as atomic enthusiasts spruik domestic nuclear energy in the context of the proposed acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
“Minister Pitt is continuing the same top-down, flawed approach that has failed in the past.
“Minister Pitt’s decision is the start of a new stage in the campaign for responsible waste management.
“This politicised move will be contested in the Courts and on the streets.
“Setting up processes to manufacture consent – including denying a voice to Aboriginal Traditional Owners – speaks volumes about the poverty of the arguments in favour of the waste facility.
“If the Minister was convinced of the project’s merits he would not be cutting corners with Traditional Owners and the wider community or making myth about nuclear medicine.
“Canberra should stop playing politics and instead get serious about responsible radioactive waste management.
“This issue has a long way to run. The plan needs formal environmental and regulatory assessment and approval and is a long way from a done deal.”
ACF’s 3-page background brief on federal radioactive waste plans
Measure twice, cut once: Advancing responsible radioactive waste management in Australia
SA Parliament must have its say on Kimba nuke dump
Conservation SA, Media Release, 29 November 2021
The state’s peak environment body has called on all sides of SA politics to commit to a wide-ranging Parliament Inquiry in response to today’s announcement to impose a nuclear waste dump near Kimba in SA.
Under long-standing SA law, any attempt to impose nuclear waste on SA is illegal and triggers an investigation by the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of SA Parliament.
“While expected, it’s still deeply disappointing the Qld National Minister Keith Pitt continues to push ahead with the controversial dumping of Australia’s most dangerous radioactive waste in farming country in SA’s Eyre Peninsula against the wishes of the Barngarla – the area’s Traditional Owners,” said Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.
“This proposal is illegal under South Australian law.
“The federal government can only proceed by explicitly over-riding SA legislation that originally passed the SA Parliament during the Liberal Olsen era. It’s essential that all sides of SA Parliament stand up on behalf of our state by committing to a comprehensive inquiry to ensure South Australians have a say,” he said.
Under the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 (SA), section 14 requires that when the construction of nuclear waste storage facility commences in South Australia – other than that authorised under the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982 (SA) – the South Australian Parliament must conduct a public Parliamentary inquiry.
“This issue has a long way to run. The area’s Traditional Owners are likely to launch legal action in response to the announcement.
“And even assuming that is lost, and all other appropriate regulatory obstacles are overcome, the facility is at least a decade away and faces many opponents and hurdles.
“Most frustrating of all is that this facility will be completely redundant even before it’s built.
“International best practice is to permanently bury intermediate level waste deep underground in a secure location.
That is NOT what is proposed for Kimba.
“Instead, the waste will be temporarily parked here in SA in above ground sheds for a hundred years or more while the federal government identifies a suitable site for a deep geological repository. This planned double handling of radioactive waste – which needs to be kept isolated from humans for 10,000 years – lacks any economic, environmental or public health rationale. It also increases the risk of the waste becoming stranded in sub-optimal
conditions at Kimba.
“There is a much better alternative: $60 million was allocated in the last federal budget to extend waste storage at Lucas Heights in Sydney – the most secure and appropriate site in Australia.
“So there is now a safer, cheaper and smarter alternative to the Kimba plan.
“A wide-ranging SA Parliamentary Inquiry is essential for all the facts to come out, rather than the spin we have heard so far,” Mr Wilkins said.
Kimba nuclear waste site go-ahead but opponents still fighting
Excerpt from InDaily article, 29 Nov 2021
The decision is likely to face a legal challenge from the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, which holds native title in the site’s surrounding areas.
The group resolved at their last general meeting to pursue a judicial review of the matter in the Federal Court should the federal government push ahead with the waste facility.
A BDAC spokesperson confirmed they would be contacting their lawyers later today to “see what the timeframe is for bringing a judicial review”.
“There have been significant and repeated grave problems with the Government’s conduct regarding the site selection process and we remain confident that, once assessed by the Court, the declaration to locate the facility at Napandee on our Country will likely be overturned,” the spokesperson said.
Pitt, asked about the potential of the BDAC bringing a legal challenge to the project, said: “that’s a matter for them.” …
Conservation Council CEO Craig Wilkins said the issue “still has a long way to run”, and called on state parliament to establish an inquiry into the facility.
Wilkins said the inquiry was a requirement under the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000.
“While expected, it’s still deeply disappointing the Queensland National Minister Keith Pitt continues to push ahead with the controversial dumping of Australia’s most dangerous radioactive waste in farming country in SA’s Eyre Peninsula against the wishes of the Barngarla – the area’s Traditional Owners,” Wilkins said.
“The federal government can only proceed by explicitly over-riding SA legislation that originally passed the SA Parliament during the Liberal Olsen era. It’s essential that all sides of SA Parliament stand up on behalf of our state by committing to a comprehensive inquiry to ensure South Australians have a say.”
Wilkins said even if the BDAC judicial review is dismissed, the facility is “at least a decade away and faces many opponents and hurdles”.
“There is a much better alternative: $60 million was allocated in the last federal budget to extend waste storage at Lucas Heights in Sydney – the most secure and appropriate site in Australia,” he said.