We Say NO!
South Australia is a proud state. We have creative people, rich culture and breathtaking landscapes. Our state is so much more than a dumping ground for nuclear waste.
NATIONAL NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP
South Australians, with nation-wide support, defeated plans for an international high-level nuclear waste dump ‒ an incredible result from a determined community. We now face another threat: the federal government's plan to establish a nuclear waste dump in SA. Three sites are being actively considered—Barndioota, near Hawker in the iconic Flinders Ranges, and two sites on farming land near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.
No convincing argument has been made for a nuclear waste dump anywhere in Australia and we object to the federal government targeting regional South Australia. Most of this waste is currently stored where it is produced, at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s nuclear facility at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney. ANSTO itself has acknowledged that it can manage this waste on-site for decades.
The federal government’s plan is not a permanent solution for Australia’s most hazardous nuclear waste ‒ long-lived intermediate-level waste ‒ but only a temporary storage plan. The government wants to store this toxic waste above-ground in SA for up to 100 years. The federal government is not even seriously considering options for permanent disposal of this long-lived intermediate-level waste ‒ the only plan is 'interim' storage in SA. South Australians are being pushed to house toxic waste with no long-term solution proposed or clear case made why it is better to move the waste from Lucas Heights.
The site in the Flinders Ranges is on Adnyamathanha country and many Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners are opposed and concerned that the dump would negatively impact their country. The Flinders Ranges is a world-renowned tourist destination and the potential negative impact on tourism outweighs any financial package and jobs being offered by the federal government.
The sites near Kimba are in a productive agricultural region. This is in conflict with the National Health and Medical Research Council's Code of Practice on radioactive waste which states that radioactive waste disposal sites should have "little or no potential for agriculture".
Claims that a nuclear waste dump is required for nuclear medicine do not stand up to scrutiny. Nuclear medicine has not been adversely affected by the absence of a national nuclear waste dump and senior government representatives have publicly accepted this. Access to nuclear medicine is not related to or threatened by whether or not there is a national waste facility.
Many communities continue to be impacted by the threat of a nuclear waste dump. Communities in both Kimba and the Flinders Ranges have opposed the proposal and highlighted the damage and division the plan has caused among families and life-long friends. Many members of both communities have called for state and national support to stop their home becoming a nuclear dump.
Lack of Respect for First Nations Peoples
Aboriginal communities in South Australia endured British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950’s and 1960’s at Emu Field and Maralinga—and continue to suffer health and social impacts from these tests. 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, many generations have said ‘no’ to nuclear waste dumps.
We have said no before
During the period from 1998-2004, South Australians won a famous victory against an earlier federal government plan to establish a nuclear waste dump in SA. With leadership from the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta and other Aboriginal people, a powerful statewide community campaign saw both major parties oppose the federal government’s plan and pass state laws to prevent it. These laws still exist and we need our current politicians to use these to protect our state.
Nuclear waste legislation
Nuclear waste dumping is illegal in South Australia. South Australia’s Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000 aims 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.”
This Act does not prevent South Australia from appropriately managing its own low-level nuclear waste but it is an important protection against external dumping.
Public Health and 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 negative health effects. Exposure can occur in the routine handling of nuclear waste during transport by sea or on land, at the facility itself or because of an accident or unplanned event.
Risks would arise not only in the vicinity of the proposed above ground dump site but also along transport corridors. For example, hundreds of trucks would bring Sydney's reactor waste to SA and an SA port would be used for irradiated Australian-origin nuclear fuel reprocessing waste returning from France and the U.K. Nuclear fuel reprocessing waste is already stored at Lucas Heights in NSW and there is no logical reason to move it to SA for 'interim' storage for up to 100 years.
A way forward
Now is the time to stand up. South Australians have fought and won the nuclear waste battle before. We urge the federal government to abandon plans for a dump in South Australia and instead continue with extended secure interim storage at Lucas Heights. This, coupled with a transparent and evidence-based assessment of all the options is the best way to advance long term responsible radioactive waste management in Australia.
We say No!
Statement Of Concern
INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP
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.