Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, 9 Mar 16 Six communities in regional and remote areas around the country are on a government shortlist as possible sites to house Australia’s radioactive waste.
Toni Scott from Kimba in South Australia visited Parliament House last week with farmers, residents and Traditional Owners from every community on the list. “I’m the direct neighbour of a site and I’m here to say to Minister Frydenberg this process is wrong. He needs to stop and start again and get it right. He’s got time to do that.”
Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, has promised not to impose radioactive waste on a site without broad community support. It is now time to honour this promise.
Public comment on the proposed six sites ends this Friday. Will you make a public comment in the next 48 hours and take a stand with Toni?
I was at Parliament with Toni and the other representatives from the six proposed sites and they’re concerned, suspicious and opposed.
Radioactive waste is caused by splitting atoms. We cannot let it split communities.
Peter Woolford, a grain grower from Kimba, said, “The mental health issues that the process has created, the stress and the anger and the deep division in our community is real. We are here as one to make sure our concerns are heard. The process is wrong and it’s damaging our communities.”
Regina McKenzie, a Traditional Owner from the Flinders Ranges, worries that the Indigenous cultural work done in her community over many years will be lost. “There was no consultation whatsoever. We all found out when it was released on the news and we feel it’s an attack on our belief system.”
Peter Kenny, a Traditional Owner from Walkabout Bore, so wanted to represent his community he travelled out of the Northern Territory and in a large plane for the first time.
Annette Clement from Oman Ama in southern Queensland stated, “We feel it’s been unfairly foisted upon us. We were told it wouldn’t come to a community if we said no. We say no but they continue to coerce us with inferred incentives – money – and guilt.”
Most of Australia’s radioactive waste is currently securely stored in a facility at Lucas Heights in NSW and there is no reason to rush to move it anywhere else. We have the time to finally develop a credible and considered approach to radioactive waste management.
For two decades successive governments have tried to impose radioactive waste on unwilling remote communities. The most recent attempt, at Muckaty in the Northern Territory, was shelved after sustained Aboriginal and community opposition. The current approach must avoid replicating the mistakes of the past.
ACF wants to see responsible radioactive waste management, not more pressure on communities.
How we handle radioactive waste is an issue that lasts longer than this generation. It’s not contained to any single post code. We don’t need to rush, but we do need to get it right.