#NuclearCommissionSAust’s question to Aborigines is superficial and offensive

submission good
West Mallee Protection strongly urge the Royal Commission to take an investigative approach in regards to alternatives to underground repository or disposal sites and instead of discounting the well
founded concerns of people in remote areas, look at ways that confidence could be built in
the broader Australian public for the far less risky option of managing nuclear waste at the
site of production or in well monitored above ground facilities.
Submission to: Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission South Australia Prepared by Breony Carbines on behalf of West Mallee Protection

“West Mallee Protection are a conservation group made up of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginalmembers based in Ceduna on the west coast of South Australia. Our On country work includes cultural maintenance of water rock holes and monitoring of biodiversity in the last stretch of intact stunted mallee country. WMP also works to ensure that this area is protected now and well into the future.”

I found it very hard to select an extract from this submission, because  I didn’t want to exclude any of it. This submission  is expressed with clear and forceful logic: it contains excellent references and recommendations.

Here’s what they had to say about the Commission’s question onsetting up a nuclear waste dump:

RC 4.7 What are the processes that would need to be undertaken to build confidence in the community generally, or specific communities, in the design, establishment and operation of such facilities?
WMP finds this question superficial and offensive. It is a fact that many people have dedicated their time and energy to investigating and thinking about nuclear waste. It is a fact that even elderly
women that made up the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta – a senior Aboriginal women’s council committed
years of their lives to stand up to the proposal for a low-level facility at Woomera. They didn’t do this
because of previously inadequate “processes” to “build confidence” as the question suggests but
because:
A) Individuals held a deep commitment to look after country and protect it from a substance
known as ‘irati’ poison which stemmed from long held cultural knowledge
B) Nuclear impacts were experienced and continued to be experienced first hand by members
and their families predominately from nuclear testing at Emu Fields and Maralinga but also
through exploration and mining at Olympic Dam
C) They epitomized and lived by the worldview that sustaining life for future generations is of
upmost importance and that this is at odds with the dangerous and long lasting dangers of all
aspects of the nuclear industry.
The insinuation that the general population or target groups such Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta or the
communities in the Northern Territory that succeeded them and also fought of a nuclear dump
for Muckaty were somehow deficient in their understanding of the implications and may have
required “confidence building” is highly offensive.
In one of their many statements included below the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta in 2003 illustrates
their level of concern, their important cultural knowledge of land and the direct personal
experiences of nuclear testing which informed this concern.6
We are the Antikirinya, Yankunynjatjara, Kokatha and Arabunna women here in Coober Pedy
(Australia) and we’re struggling to stop the Government putting the poison (radioactive waste)
on our land………The desert lands are not as dry as they think. We’ve got water, a big underground river. We know that the poison from the radioactive dump will go under the ground and leak into the water. We drink from this water. The animals drink from this water – kangaroo, emu, perentie, goanna and

others. We eat these animals – that’s our meat. We’re worried that any of these animals will
become poisoned and we’ll become poisoned in our turn. We can’t sleep because we are worried for our grandchildren every morning, every night – what are they going to do?
We know the Story for the land. White people have books. We have the book of the land, like a
computer in our hearts. We’ve got the ceremony for the land……..
Over the last several decades the South Australian public have clearly presented their
opposition to a nuclear waste dump. Aboriginal communities which have so far borne the
brunt of the nuclear industry through nuclear testing, mining and proposed nuclear waste
dump have also clearly and generously articulated their concerns.
South Australia made nuclear waste illegal under the “Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
(Prohibition) Act 2000” and the import, transport, storage and disposal of any wastes
derived from nuclear reactors, or uranium enrichment plants, or from the conditioning and
reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, remains prohibited. The Royal Commission would be wise
to look at the context of how this legislation came about and its merit in minimizing risks for
South Australia.
WMP strongly urge the Royal Commission to take an investigative approach in regards to
alternatives to underground repository or disposal sites and instead of discounting the well
founded concerns of people in remote areas, look at ways that confidence could be built in
the broader Australian public for the far less risky option of managing nuclear waste at the
site of production or in well monitored above ground facilities.
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