South Australia is a proud state rich in possibilities, clever people, culture, creativity and breathtaking nature. We believe we can achieve so much more than become the dumping ground for the world’s radioactive waste. This statement is our response to any proposal to establish a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.
Lack of Respect for Original First Nations Peoples
Aboriginal communities in South Australia endured British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s at Emu Field and Maralinga and continue to suffer health and social impacts from these tests today. Many First Nations Peoples and their communities are opposed to all nuclear developments. A nuclear waste dump would be a permanent imposition on country, people, laws, environment and culture. From Elders in the communities to young people now speaking out, generations after generations have said NO to nuclear waste dumps.
To import international nuclear waste is an irrevocable decision. Once brought to South Australia, the waste would be here forever and remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. We would not be able to change our minds and send the waste back. Our children and countless generations who follow them would have no say in the decision, yet they are the ones who would be left with the responsibility and the cost. We have no right to mortgage their freedom and independence.
Public Health & Environmental Risks
We have a responsibility to preserve the health and safety of all South Australians and our environment. There is no ‘safe’ level of exposure to ionising radiation. Any exposure can lead to a range of health effects. Exposure can occur in routine handling of nuclear waste during transport by sea or on land, in long-term storage above ground or in the placement of the material in the proposed deep underground waste dump. Increased exposure through accidents can make adverse outcomes much more severe. In over 70 years, no country anywhere in the world has worked out how to isolate high-level nuclear waste for the length of time it remains dangerous to humans. Yet, the Royal Commission’s plan would see our state importing over 100,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and storing it above ground for decades in the hope that a permanent underground solution can be found in the future. We have no right to risk the health and wellbeing of countless future South Australians.
South Australia has been sold down the river before about a dream economic fix. If it’s such a good deal, why aren’t other countries rushing to do it? Something just doesn’t add up. The Royal Commission’s case for a nuclear dump making a profit is based on inflated estimates of the income and deflated estimates of the costs and risks. The Commission assumes that countries with waste stockpiles will pay a premium price to dump in our backyard and that no other country will ever offer a cheaper option. If the economics of this nuclear waste project fail, the South Australian public would bear the losses – forever.
There is a big difference between a Royal Commission and South Australia’s permission.
South Australians have rejected nuclear waste dump proposals in the past and believe today that our state can do better.
We are signing this statement to indicate our concerns ahead of any decision by the South Australian Parliament and invite others who share these concerns, to join us.