Archive for the ‘wastes’ Category

Little chance for genuine community consultation on Napandee nuclear waste dump decision

August 24, 2021

MY COMMENTS
What is difficult about these legislative provisions is to know what they mean and why are they there
They are probably meaningless for it is only an invitation with no result to a very restricted group of persons.

I should have thought that if you had a right or interest in the nominated land then you would have been included in the formal nomination
The only persons with a right or interest may be Aboriginal peoples under customary or ancestral ownership

What’s the betting no one in Pitt’s group will have a proper answer or even knows what it means as it is extremely poor drafting

NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT 2012 as amended in 2021
There appear to be only very limited rights for community consultation underthe National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 as recently amended despite statements to the contrary

The problem under subsections (5) and (6) of section 10 of this legislation – and replicated for a subsequent situation by subsections (2) and (3) of section 18 – is that there is reference to only persons with a right or interest in the land

Regrettably this is rather vague and on black letter law extremely narrow in its context – what is the right or interest in the land ? with whom and how is the consultation process started ?


These provisions do not encompass or provide for the general community consultations claimed by virtue of the ultimate amendments to the legislation


In fact the community consultation process under the new legislation is extensively restrictive and does no credit to the senators claiming to have achieved a basis for considerable and comprehensive consultations before a ministerial declaration is made under the legislation.

It is certainly not the strong community consultation lauded as having beenachieved by the recently agreed amendments
Added to the seemingly lack of knowledge or simply ignorance of the technicalities and dangerous nature of nuclear waste and its proper management becomes unintentionally a rather toxic combination playing right into the current responsible minister’s hands.


It is unrealistic to rely on the progressive development of the facility for community consultations as obviously the minister will want to rush throughThe the facility’s establishment without any impediments or delays

Section 10(5) of original 2012 legislation reads


Division 4—Procedural fairness in relation to Minister’s declarations and
approvals
10 Procedural fairness in relation to Minister’s declarations and approvals
Section 10

(more…)

Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) supports a new Intermediate Level Solid Waste Storage Facility at Lucas Heights

August 1, 2021

MAPW supports the construction of a new Intermediate Level Solid Waste Storage Facility at Lucas Heights.
MAPW strongly recommends:
• an open and independent review of nuclear waste production and disposal in Australia, and
• progressing a shift to cyclotron rather that reactor-based production of isotopes for nuclear medicine as rapidly as feasible.

Arguments that radioactive waste should all be at one site overlook the ongoing need for hospitals to store clinical waste. After nuclear medicine is used in a patient, the vast majority of the residual material and radioactively-contaminated equipment is stored on site while the radioactivity decays away. Within a few days, it has lost so much radioactivity that the material can go to a normal rubbish tip. There will always need to be multiple waste storage locations at sites which utilise radiopharmaceuticals.

Clean cyclotron production of Tc99m has recently been approved and is being implemented in
Canada. This should rapidly become the future of isotope production

Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) 30 July21, Submission to the Public Works Committee regarding Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Intermediate Level Solid Waste Storage Facility Lucas Heights, NSW.

SUMMARY
MAPW supports the construction of a new Intermediate Level Solid Waste Storage Facility at Lucas Heights. As noted in the ANSTO submission, there will be minimal expected impact on the community and ANSTO has excellent existing security.

This contrasts with the massive distress and community division in regional and remote communities that has been created by a succession of nuclear waste storage proposals.

This facility will be useful over a much greater timeframe if ANSTO’s rapidly expanding production of isotopes for nuclear medicine is reined in. This very heavily subsided export business has only a small minority of the radiopharmaceuticals produced being utilised in the care of Australians. There is no evidence whatsoever of more than minimal cost recovery. The burgeoning amounts of ILW produced will be a liability for Australians or many generations.


More reliable, safer, cheaper and much cleaner cyclotron production of technetium99m (Tc99m) has been shown to work and is being implemented in Canada. Japan, the USA, the UK and several European countries are all looking to implement cyclotron.

The proposed new ILW facility provides an opportunity to identify and implement world’s best practice ILW disposal options and update and reset nuclear medicine production tocleaner, cheaper and more reliable methods.

MAPW strongly recommends:
• an open and independent review of nuclear waste production and disposal in
Australia, and
• progressing a shift to cyclotron rather that reactor-based production of isotopes for nuclear medicine as rapidly as feasible.

Individual criteria will now be addressed.

(more…)

No need for Kimba interim nuclear waste storage, as Australian Government budgets for increased storage capacity at Lucas Heights.

July 29, 2021

the present nuclear waste storage site at Lucas Heights is in no danger of running out of room. ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) is the nation’s nuclear regulator. In 2020 in parliamentary testimony, Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson clearly stated, ‘Waste can be safely stored at Lucas Heights for decades to come.’ In fact, the recent federal Budget provided $60 million for further decades of extended storage capacity for Intermediate Long-lived Waste at ANSTO Lucas Heights, building onto the operation of existing stores to 2026. There is no emergency.

As nuclear waste storage Bill passes, the fight continues,   https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/as-nuclear-waste-storage-bill-passes–the-fight-continues?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Tuesday%2027%20July%202021&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Tuesday%2027%20July%202021+CID_ef6ae62e9543e5b0c91147f8dd3a4683&utm_source=Jescom%20Newsletters&utm_term=READ%20MORE Michele Madigan 26 July 2021   

For several decades, successive federal governments have tried but failed to establish a national nuclear waste repository, primarily to take waste from the nuclear research reactor site operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights, 30 km south of Sydney. Currently, a site near Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is being targeted.

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt has always had the power to make a ministerial declaration of a particular site for the new national radioactive waste storage facility. But instead of making a selection, for over twelve months he chose to take his NRWMF (National Radioactive Waste Management Facility) Amendment Bill legislation to Parliament. Under his proposed legislation, any group that opposed the site he selected — including the Barngarla Traditional Owners — would not have the power of judicial review.

Last month, the Senate came to a decision approving an amended Bill that would allow Traditional Owners judicial review if the location was disputed. Minister Pitt was forced to admit defeat.

Over the course of the Bill’s passage, the Coalition had the numbers in the House of course, with the legislation passing in 2020 only after informed and strong opposing speeches by Labor, the Greens and Independents. The Senate, however, was a different matter. Labor, the Greens and the majority of the other five Crossbenchers continued for months standing firmly against legislation that denied judicial review to opposition groups.

Minister Pitt, having listed the legislation a number of times, was then forced every time to withdraw his Bill. In regular media statements, Pitt harangued opposing Senators, especially Labor, with increasingly extravagant claims for the necessity of the dump for the future of nuclear medicine.

Government arguments to the contrary, the present nuclear waste storage site at Lucas Heights is in no danger of running out of room. ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) is the nation’s nuclear regulator. In 2020 in parliamentary testimony, Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson clearly stated, ‘Waste can be safely stored at Lucas Heights for decades to come.’ In fact, the recent federal Budget provided $60 million for further decades of extended storage capacity for Intermediate Long-lived Waste at ANSTO Lucas Heights, building onto the operation of existing stores to 2026. There is no emergency.

During last month’s Senate debate many salient points were made by the Greens and other Crossbench Senators. During the debate, the previous Minister for Resources Matthew Canavan gave assurances that the invited submissions would be taken into consideration, but 95 per cent of the submissions made were against the proposed new site.

Further, it was pointed out that in the Kimba district, 36 non-residents with property were permitted to vote while the Traditional Owners, and also farmers whose properties were closer to the Napandee site but outside the Kimba Council region, were not.

So where are we up to in this long-running saga?

With the intermediate level waste simply being moved from one part of the nation to be again stored above ground for a cited 100 years, the can is being kicked down the road for future generations to deal with. What is needed is an independent expert inquiry..

And with judicial review allowed in the amended legislation, Labor were able to say they were supporting the Traditional Owners and then voted with the government to ensure the amended Bill became law.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) is finally free to proceed to court. The resources Minister within the coming weeks will formally declare the site, almost certain to be Napandee in the Kimba region in SA. From there, the project will require EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) procedure and the regulator ARPANSA licensing, both offering significant public opportunities.

Finally: there are two elections looming: South Australia’s State elections on 19 March, 2022, as well as Federal. Both SA Liberal and Labor past Premiers have initiated successful state legislation ‘prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste facilities’ in this state. Environmentalists are now calling on South Australians to make the federal government’s radioactive waste plan that counters this legislation, an election issue.

At times, in such a long campaign one can ask, is opposition really worth the struggle? 

I received an answer to that question on 18 June, on State Parliament House steps, when a colleague and I conducted a rehearsal for a larger sit-in. In the cold I was in a long dress, gloves, scarf, woollen cap, hoodie jacket. After our shift, my companion went to get the car leaving at my feet our magnificent banner hidden by its worn tarpaulin cover. As a group of high school children rushed past me towards the railway station, a lively-looking student, maybe 15 years old, said something to her teacher. Then she approached and stood in front of me offering an almost-full packet of chips. ‘Do you want them?’ I stared back at her, not understanding. Again: ‘Do you want them?’ Looking down at the old tarpaulin, I realised she was feeding the homeless!

This girl is an example of the beautiful future generations whose well-being we are responsible for. They deserve far better than radioactive waste, toxic for 10,00 years, being stored above ground in their state. The fight continues.

Donate to the Barngarla crowdfunder to fund a legal challenge.

Submission: Flinders Local Action Group points out the flaws in ANSTO’s nuclear waste plan

July 25, 2021

Intermediate Level Waste is the key element of greatest concern in the current NRWMF proposal.
ANSTO has informed to us that Intermediate Level is the most dangerous and long-lived nuclear waste in Australia, with a toxic life in excess of 10,000 years. Our research tells us that in Europe little distinction is made between Intermediate and High Level waste – both remain potentially extremely dangerous over enormous time periods.

Submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, Greg Bannon, (On behalf of the Flinders Local Action Group 23 July 21,

SUBJECT: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Intermediate Level Solid Waste (ILSW) Storage Facility Lucas Heights, NSW


INTRODUCTION: The Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to this Public Works Standing Committee.

FLAG was formed to challenge the 2015 nomination of Wallerberdina Station in the Flinders Ranges district, and its inclusion on the shortlist of three potential South Australian sites for the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF). The Group is made up of indigenous and non-indigenous members of the community.

We have become very well informed on the NRWMF proposal, seeking out and researching information from independent sources to weigh up against what has been provided to the community by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS – now the Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources, DISER). As both the proposer and promoter of the NRWMF, the Department cannot claim any sort of neutral position.

SUMMARY:
• ANSTO’s preferred Option 2 must be considered on the basis that interim storage will be until a permanent disposal site has been established. This would provide the licensing pathway to disposal required by the independent regulator, ARPANSA.
• There is no logic or economic sense in double-handling ILW from temporary storage at Lucas Heights to further temporary storage somewhere else, in preparation for yet another transfer to a third location for final disposal at some time in the future.
• There is no economic sense in establishing a facility for low level waste alone when a disposal site, critical for ILSW and more than suitable for LLW, is still to be established.

SUBMISSION POINTS:
Temporary Intermediate Level Solid Waste (ILSW) Storage:

The Department has guaranteed that all waste to be received at the NRWMF will be in a dry, compacted or compactable form. ANSTO defines ILSW as the result of conditioning Intermediate Level Liquid Waste under the Synroc process. In solid or liquid form, it is still Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (ILRW). We do not accept any difference between what we have been opposing and refer to as ILRW, and ILSW.

Intermediate Level Waste is the key element of greatest concern in the current NRWMF proposal.
• ANSTO has informed to us that Intermediate Level is the most dangerous and long-lived nuclear waste in Australia, with a toxic life in excess of 10,000 years. Our research tells us that in Europe little distinction is made between Intermediate and High Level waste – both remain potentially extremely dangerous over enormous time periods.

Until now, the only plan for ILSW has been to remove it from temporary storage at Lucas Heights and transport it halfway across the country to a proposed NRWMF – still to be established. There it will remain in further temporary storage, for an undefined period, colocated
with Low Level Radioactive Waste.


• Temporary storage does not solve the national problem, which is the permanent, safe disposal for all of Australia’s nuclear waste, including the most dangerous and long-lived category, ILSW.


• ANSTO’s submission to the Standing Committee outlines five options “to assess the most efficient and effective approach to the design and construction of new storage capacity”.

We note that Option 2 (4.1.2. – ANSTO submission) “provides a direct continuation of existing operations for storing waste…(with the)…benefits of low capital outlay…minimalorganisational change…at low business risk make this the preferred option”.
• This would be of great encouragement to our Group if it means that ANSTO intends to continue interim storage of ILSW at Lucas Heights until the promised “single, state-of-the-art, world’s best practice radioactive waste management facility” (quotes from DIIS information) for the permanent disposal of both waste categories, ILW and LLW, is established.
• After more than 60 years of producing nuclear waste and 40 years of failed attempts to establish a national nuclear waste facility it is hard to accept that the only plan for the country’s most dangerous radioactive material continues to be temporary storage for an indefinite period of time. This would be a classic example of that over-used metaphor “kicking the can down the road”

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility:
If ILSW remains at Lucas Heights until a permanent disposal site is established, there is no necessity
for a facility to separately manage Low Level waste.
• The flaw in the NRWMF proposal has always been that, despite the Department’s assertion to the contrary, there was never to be a single national facility. Low level waste would be disposed of there, with Intermediate Level co-located alongside on a temporary basis, for an indefinite period, until a disposal facility was established somewhere else.
• The economic benefits promoted to the community from a nearby NRWMF were promised because the decision was announced to co-locate Intermediate Level Waste at the same site.
This was the reason given to both communities, Flinders and Kimba, for the Ministerial announcement that the 15 full-time equivalent jobs initially promised were suddenly increased to 45 along with a number of other economic incentives.
•Any site that is suitable for the permanent disposal of ILSW is suitable for the disposal of Low
Level waste.

CONCLUSION:
Our Group readily accepts the benefits that result from Australian atomic research and the production
of medical isotopes. We accept the need for a NRWMF to consolidate and dispose of all the
country’s nuclear waste in one location.


What is hard to accept, and still being experienced, are the disruptive and divisive effects this
process has had on our communities. Inflated promises of economic benefits have raised overly
optimistic expectations in some people. Cold, hard logic shows that these expectations will not be
met by the model that is currently being proposed.

Premier Marshall should stand up for South Australia and reject the federal Liberal’s unlawful, unfair, unsafe and unnecessary nuclear waste dump plan for SA

July 3, 2021

Premier Marshall should stand up for our State: Reject the federal Liberal’s unlawful, unfair, unsafe and unnecessary nuclear waste dump plan for SA

David Noonan, July 2021  Premier Stephen Marshall must stand up for South Australia’s interests and push back on federal Liberal government imposition of an unlawful nuclear waste dump in our State.

Premier Marshall should stand up for our State: Reject the federal Liberal’s unlawful, unfair, unsafe and unnecessary nuclear waste dump plan for SA

David Noonan, July 2021  Premier Stephen Marshall must stand up for South Australia’s interests and push back on federal Liberal government imposition of an unlawful nuclear waste dump in our State.

  • The objects of this Act are to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State.
  • As Premier you should give all South Australian’s a Say and take action to instigate a required public inquiry into the impacts of a nuclear waste storage facility on the environmental and socio-economic wellbeing of this State. The NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITY (PROHIBITION) ACT 2000, Section 14 states:
  • If a licence, exemption or other authority to construct or operate a nuclear waste storage facility in this State is granted under a law of the Commonwealth, the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of Parliament must inquire into, consider and report on the likely impact of that facility on the environment and socio-economic wellbeing of this State.

The Port of Whyalla is targeted for shipments of ANSTO nuclear fuel waste and communities along proposed nuclear waste transport routes across our State all have a right to have a Say.

Nuclear waste dumping is a Human Rights issue for our fellow Indigenous South Australian’s. As Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Stephen Marshall should support the Barngarla People’s right to say No to nuclear waste storage on their country:

  • The “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People” (2007) Article 29 calls on States “to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous material shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free prior and informed consent.”
  • The federal Liberal government proposes to ship and truck nuclear waste across SA into indefinite above ground storage in a fancy shed at Napandee on Eyre Peninsula – without any capacity or even a plan for its eventual permanent disposal.
  • SA’s clean green reputation, and our prime agricultural lands and farming communities, deserve better than untenable imposition of toxic nuclear wastes in a shoddy reckless federal plan to park and dump wastes that require isolation from the environment for 10,000 years.95 per cent of Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) in Australia are owned by Commonwealth government agencies, the vast majority is produced and held at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights reactor facility in Sydney – where it should stay in secure extended storage.
  • The federal Budget provided $60 million for further decades of extended storage capacity for ILW at ANSTO Lucas Heights, building onto the operation of existing stores to 2026.
  • In 2015 a separate Interim Waste Store for ANSTO nuclear fuel waste was built at Lucas Heights with a design capacity for 40 years. This store received a shipment of reprocessed nuclear fuel waste from France in 2015 and is intended to now receive a shipment from the UK in 2022, and is safety rated to 2055.
  • The CEO of the federal nuclear regulator ARPANSA stated in evidence to a Senate Inquiry in 2020: “Waste can be safely stored at Lucas Heights for decades to come.”
  • The federal Liberal government proposes to bring all these nuclear wastes to SA, along with decades of ANSTO’s further proposed nuclear waste production and future shipments of ANSTO reprocessed nuclear waste from France.

Premier – Stand up for our State!

Napandee still the targeted site for nuclear waste? South Australia’s radioactive nightmare.

June 28, 2021

The Senate’s nuclear waste dilemma, Pearls and Irritations, By Noel Wauchope, Jun 27, 2021 ”……….. Australia’s obligations mount – to have some credible plan for long term management of its nuclear waste from its present Opal, and previous HIFAR nuclear reactors.The new amendment made this very significant change – and a real career-on -knife edge situation for Keith Pitt. Instead of specifying Napandee as the site for – let’s face it – just another temporary nuclear waste dump – the Bill now says that a selection is to be made from one of the listed sites. …

Well this seems to boil down to just one site anyway……… after all the promotional activity, and significant funding already granted to Kimba, it looks as if Napandee is still the targeted site….

Legal challenges to this site selection ? …….. the first consideration will be the Barngarla Native Title Owners………. [There]  are farmers, local residents and business leaders, who are asking the government for funding for an independent review and assessment of the dump project. Up till now, information on the project has been confined to government and ANSTO promotion of the dump as a ”medical necessity” for Australia.

Then there are residents of the wider Eyre Peninsula, who have had no say in the Kimba decision. There are the various communities whose residents are likely to object to having radioactive waste transported through their area. There’s South Australia, too, which has clear laws prohibiting the establishment of a nuclear waste dump in that State, the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000.

But even those who have no ”local” interest in this project have been raising objections, with that rather old-fashioned motivation – the greater good. Thirteen of Australia’s top non government organisations rejected the Napandeed plan and the original Act as deeply flawed There were many submissions to the Senate Committee’s Inquiry into the plan, raising well-argued doubts about economic problems with the plan, about geological unsuitability of the location, environmental risks, and the likely outcome of Kimba being burdened with ”stranded wastes”

It is an issue of national concern, but it has been pitched by the government as a matter only for the 824 eligible voters of the Kimba Shire.


Looking at this in the wider and historical context, the plan is not so new. The federal government and ANSTO have been aiming for years to transfer the responsibility of the reactor wastes to some distant location, preferably out of New South Wales. ANSTO, under the recently departed CEO Dr Adi Paterson had grand plans for expanding its operations, to build a marketing empire for medical radioisotopes, This is a dubious plan, as now these isotopes are being produced in a safer, more practical way, using non nuclear cyclotrons.

A greater dream, (or perhaps nightmare) lies behind the nuclear lobby’s push for a radioactive waste dump. It’s the idea, promoted by the company PANGEA, in 1999, of Australia becoming the importer of international nuclear waste – the world’s nuclear waste hub. PANGEA has been reborn as ARIUS, with the same dream. In 2016, that dream was pushed by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Commission, which failed to convince South Australians. Two Citizens Jury processes rejected the plan, and the South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced that it was definitely axed.

There’s still more. The dream of plutonium and other end products of nuclear reactors coming to Australia was tied to the aspirations for an Australian nuclear future, first with the goal of the full nuclear fuel cycle, with advanced nuclear reactors, small nuclear reactors, thorium reactors, (that need plutonium to kick-start the fission process), nuclear submarines, nuclear-propelled spacecraft and so on……..

[Ed. note – the Bill was passed by the Senate on 22nd June]

Australian Conservation Foundation Nuclear Free Campaigner David Sweeney said “The return of legal review is important but it is extraordinary that the Minister ever thought its removal was reasonable,” Mr Sweeney said.“A day in court is a fundamental right and to seek to remove this was deeply flawed – as is the government’s wider plan.”

The ACF along with other peak environmental, health and community organisations, has spelt out its objections in a document on its website, stating that the plan for the Kimba waste dump is unnecessary and deeply flawed. More importantly, they are calling for what is instead really needed . They demand a properly funded and expert independent review of Australia’s radioactive waste management, based on evidence and global best practice.
 https://johnmenadue.com/the-senates-nuclear-waste-dilemma/

Premier Marshall must enforce South Australia’s legislation prohibiting nuclear waste dump.

June 21, 2021

 21 June 2021 ‒ Friends of the Earth Australia

By accepting amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill, the federal government has today abandoned its year-long attempt to shield its plan for a national nuclear waste dump in SA from judicial review. A vote on the Bill is expected this afternoon or tomorrow and the Bill is expected to pass.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said: “The Morrison government’s disgraceful efforts to override the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners to the proposed nuclear dump will be challenged in the courts and politically. Barngarla Traditional Owners are expected to launch a judicial challenge.

“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.

“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 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 SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) 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.

“Repeated claims that most of the nuclear waste is medical in original are dishonest. Claims that 45 jobs will be generated are deeply implausible. The dump will likely be the thin edge of the wedge; indeed several Coalition Senators today linked the looming passage of the Amendment Bill to the development of a nuclear power industry in Australia.

“Measured by radioactivity, well over 90% of the waste is long-lived intermediate-level 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.

“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.

“The Howard government had to common sense to abandon plans to co-locate intermediate-level waste with a repository for low-level waste, and Premier Marshall should insist that the Morrison government do the same.

“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.

“South Australians have greater ambitions for our state than to be someone else’s nuclear waste dump,” Dr. Green concluded.

Contact: Dr. Jim Green 0417 318 368

Racism on show in the Australian Senate

June 21, 2021

Senator Lidia Thorpe addressed the Senate today on the subject of the newly amended National Radioactive Waste Bill.

”…We need a new approach –  unequivocal rejection of this fundamentally flawed and deeply disrespectful Bill.

How can Labor acknowledge the traditional owners when you can support a Bill that will destroy women’s sacred sites? Labor you should stand up and vote this Bill down along with us”

Senator Thorpe spoke passionately and eloquently, explaining First Nation people’s stromg opposition to the planned nuclear waste dump.

And whaddya know – from the Gallery yelled an old white man, a Member of the House ofrReps, but not a member of this Chamber. Yes, Rowan Ramsey MP, yelled ”Bullshit”.

Just as well the Hon Ramsey is a white man, confronting a black woman. Otherwise, if it were the other way round, you can bet your boots that the interjector would have been expelled from the Gallery.

And here’s some of what Senator Thorpe said (inexact transcript)

” Greens speak up for the Barngarla people, oppose this Bill.   The clearly expressed opposition of Aboriginal people.  They strongly oppose the Wallerberdina site, and need to protect that sacred women’s site.  Today’s proposed amendment again paves way for radioactive dump on  this sacred site. The amendment puts all 3 sites back on the table.  None of these sites have the consent of the traditional owners. None of these traditional owners want their sacred sites degraded.The ”community” consent was conducted on the basis that only rate-payers could vote.  The Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation  commissioned an independent company to conduct a ballot, with the result – unanimous opposition.

Labor – you’re agreeing with the amendment so that the traditional owners can fight this plan in court. Is Labor going to pay for their lagal action? Stop pretending that you’re here for the first people in this country.  We say NO and we will continue to fight against the destruction of our country. Radioactive waste is something that will outlast you and this Parliament………We need a new pproach –  unequivocal rejection of this fundamentally flawed and deeply disrespectful Bill. How can Labor acknowledge the traditional owners when you can support a Bill that will destroy womeb’s sacred sites. Labor you should stand up and vote this Bill down along with us.

The Australian government’s new strategy to get a nuclear waste dump at Kimba, South Australia.

June 16, 2021

Dr Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, 12 June 21, After being deadlocked in the Senate for exactly twelve months Resource Minister Pitt is introducing a revised radwaste amendment next Tuesday morning (June 15) that seeks to negate key objections to the federal governments approach to the siting of a national radioactive waste facility near Kimba in regional SA.


The changes mean that the Minister – rather than the Parliament – will choose a site and that choice will then be subject to legal review through Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1979 (ADJR) processes.

In some ways this is a positive campaign outcome – the federal agenda has been effectively stalled since Feb 2020 and the Minster has had to abandon his push to remove the right of legal recourse, an important reaffirmation of a (limited) check and balance. However, it does mean that the federal effort and momentum to advance the facility will soon significantly escalate.

The amendment restores the three shortlisted SA sites (Lyndhurst, Napandee, and Wallerberdina) as being open for consideration. This is despite Wallerberdina (the Flinders Ranges site) having been ruled out of consideration in December 2019 by former Minister Canavan.

The last listed supplementary explanatory memorandum on the right hand side of the below link outlines the main changes to the revised amendment.
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6500
<https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6500>

I have not had formal confirmation but it is likely that this revised approach will satisfy federal Labor and that the Bill will be passed. After this it is expected that Minister Pitt will move to formally declare the Napandee site, near Kimba.

Once this happens it is expected the Barngarla lawyers (the Adelaide based firm Norman Waterhouse) will file a challenge to the site selection. This development will require a re-calibration – but not a fundamental change – of our strategy and an increased public face to the campaign for responsible radioactive waste management.

Australia’s nuclear waste policy shambles

June 4, 2021

In developing this plan, ANSTO had the option of choosing a different process.

They had the option of disposing of the wastes from O.P.A.L. to the USA, providing a cheaper alternative for ANSTO:

Australia’s nuclear waste policy shambles https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australias-nuclear-waste-policy-shambles,15146B  2 June 2021 The Government is scrambling to figure out a solution to Australia’s nuclear waste problem with a new bill  before the Senate, writes Noel Wauchope.

TO BE FAIR, Australia is not alone in having a shambolic policy on nuclear wastes. Russia, China, India and even France and the UK are secretive about all aspects of the nuclear fuel chain. But the USA, the first and biggest of the nuclear countries, has openly described its struggles with this problem.

I’ve always thought that America summed up its nuclear waste policy best in its Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule — first promulgated in 1984 and upgraded several times since. This rule, charmingly optimistic, stated that a permanent nuclear waste disposal solution would be found (no details, they didn’t know where, didn’t know when). But therefore, the nuclear industry could confidently continue to make radioactive trash.

It’s no surprise that Australia, too, is struggling with its relatively small amount of nuclear waste.

Indeed, as Griffith University Professor Ian Lowe has pointed out, Australia dodged a bullet in not having nuclear power:

“We were just lucky to avoid having nuclear power stations with mountains of accumulated waste, for which there is no effective permanent solution.”

Still, Australia’s one nuclear reactor, run by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights, Sydney, is now mired in problems about what to do with its nuclear waste.  

The added problem is that by its licence for this storage facility, ANSTO was required to ‘submit a plan, by no later than June 2020, for removal of the waste stored in the facility’. This has resulted in the Federal Government’s rather frenzied efforts over recent years to draw up a plan for a “permanent” nuclear waste facility, culminating in its present bill before the Senate.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020  (NRWMA) specifies a farming property, Napandee, near Kimba, South Australia as the site for this still “interim” nuclear waste facility. The bill is cunningly devised so that when it’s passed, there can be no judicial review of it, nor of the selected location.

Another impetus for this bill is consideration of the local community at Barden Ridge (formerly called Lucas Heights). When the original High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) nuclear research reactor started operations in 1958, Lucas Heights was then a remote bushland site well outside the suburban area of Sydney. Nuclear development was meshed in secrecy and controlled by influential experts Philip Baxter and Ernest Titterton, without much understanding by the Parliament or the public. It was the time of British atomic weapons tests in Australia and heightened fears about the cold war. Little attention was paid to the subject of radioactive wastes.  

As Sydney grew, Lucas Heights became more of a suburb and public awareness of the danger of ionising radiation grew. In 1992, local residents voted to rename the suburb of Lucas Heights and in 1996 it officially became Barden Ridge. It is widely accepted that this was done to increase the real estate value of the area, as it would no longer be instantly associated with the original reactor, the HIFAR nuclear reactor.

The local community supports the present Open Pool Australian Lightwater (O.P.A.L.) nuclear reactor but doesn’t want its radioactive wastes. The Sutherland Shire Council in 2013 said that they liked having the nuclear reactor, but not the radioactive wastes. The presence of nuclear wastes is an issue. Local people and Council were relieved to learn of the Federal Government’s plan to set up a waste facility in another state.

Nevertheless, this nuclear waste bill is contentious. Over 1,700 kilometres away from Barden Ridge, a Kimba community ballot resulted in 452 voters, out of 824 eligible voters, supported hosting the waste facility — hardly an overwhelming endorsement. And the Barngarla Aboriginal Traditional Owners, who were excluded from this ballot, held their own ballot, unanimously opposing the plan.

Local farmers opposing the facility set up their own group to lobby the Government — “No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA”. There is also significant opposition to the plan from the wider Australian community. Of the 105 submissions listed on the Parliamentary website, the majority were opposed to the NRWMA Bill. (A breakdown of the submissions is here.) 

The situation with the NRWMA Bill, passed in the House of Representatives but now before the Senate, is tricky and complicated. To start with, the proposed facility is in no way a permanent disposal. It is an “interim” storage, with the reactor wastes to be in big canisters just as at the Lucas Heights facility. If the Senate votes against it, the Government’s nuclear waste plan is in disarray. Resources Minister Keith Pitt has the power to formally designate the Napandee site, but then the Government might be faced with a legal challenge against this.

The background of the nuclear waste management is that ANSTO contracted with the French company Areva, to send the first (HIFAR) reactor’s spent fuel rods to France for processing and to take back the processed wastes. Later, in 2017, a similar treaty ensured that the O.P.A.L. reactor’s wastes would go to France until 31 December 2030, with Australia accepting the return of radioactive waste arising from that reprocessing, with final return by 31 December 2040. So, a final resting place will be needed for this material.

In developing this plan, ANSTO had the option of choosing a different process.

They had the option of disposing of the wastes from O.P.A.L. to the USA, providing a cheaper alternative for ANSTO:

‘These wastes were [to] be retained in the U.S. without any associated return of equivalent wastes to Australia and the financial cost involved was only for the one-way shipment to the U.S. — significantly less than the now additional cost in reprocessing and in required in-perpetuity management and final disposal of this first decade of O.P.A.L.’

By now, this option looks like ancient history. Too late now? Probably so. 

Yet, in a puzzling development, we learn that approximately 2,000 tonnes of radioactive material are to be excavated from the Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill and shipped to Idaho, USA. The radioactive soil is to be sealed in bags, loaded into shipping containers and taken to a secure facility in the Eastern Sydney suburb of Matraville before shipping overseas in scheduled consignments. ANSTO will oversee the process over an18-month-long mission.  
Permanent export of radioactive wastes from a Sydney suburb can happen. There is very little information made public on how this latest decision was reached.

In the meantime, while everyone seems focused on the pandemic, the Senate is in no hurry to vote on the NRWMA Bill. Perhaps that is a hot potato best left for after the Federal Election. Labor is opposed to the bill and the votes of the cross-benchers will be critical. One of them, Senator Rex Patrick, is unearthing details of the negotiations between the Kimba District Council and the Federal and South Australian Governments. The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has ruled that this information should not be kept secret.

Minister Keith Pitt has redoubled efforts to ensure the support of the Kimba community for the waste dump, announcing an extra $2 million to bring a new Community Benefit Program round up to $6 million.

Both the previous Resources Minister, Matt Canavan, and ANSTO’s previous CEO, Adi Paterson, were forceful and enthusiastic promoters of the nuclear industry and the Kimba waste facility plan. In these uncertain times of pandemic, it’s not easy to tell if their replacements can push this project along with the same fervour. 

Meanwhile, the Kimba town community, the Barngarla people, the farmers and quite a few others wait in limbo.