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Don’t Nuclear Waste Australia: National Day of Action October 15

National Day of Action October 15*
o The Federal government wants to dump domestic radioactive waste from Lucas Heights in the iconic Flinders Ranges.
o In addition to this, the SA government proposes to bring one third of the world’s high level nuclear waste to South Australia.


Nuclear waste is a threat to workers, the broader community and the environment. It is a toxic burden for generations many thousands of years into the future.

Two separate proposals that would greatly impact communities and country are being advanced in South Australia.

The federal government proposes to locate a national radioactive waste facility in the magnificent Flinders Ranges. The plan is fiercely contested by Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners and local pastoralists and could greatly impact tourism in the region. The most dangerous of the waste is from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods used in the Lucas Heights reactor south of Sydney.

Meanwhile, the SA government proposes to import 138 000 tonnes of international high-level nuclear waste to SA, risking economic as well as environmental catastrophe. Up to $600 million would be spent before the decision to proceed is even made. The plan requires a dedicated deep-sea port and up to four other waste dump areas across SA, including interim storage for at least 50 years and eventual burial of low, intermediate and high level waste. The plan will impact a vast area and many communities.

We need to move away from dangerous dinosaur industries like coal and nuclear, toward a renewable energy future with jobs in regional and remote areas.

Join people around the country on October 15 to say ‘Don’t nuclear waste Australia’.

Events are currently organised in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Submit your own event here.

* October 15 marks 63 years since the first inland atomic bomb test at Emu Field in SA.

Australian Nuclear Free Alliance 2014 meeting statement

Click here to download ANFA 2014 meeting statement

Click here to listen to audio from the ANFA media conference held after the national meeting
 ANFA logo__2014

Meeting Statement – 2014

Against a background of strong community protest to the continuing government and industry push for an expanded nuclear sector in Australia, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) held its 17th annual gathering of Aboriginal, environmental and public health representatives who share common concerns over the adverse impacts of the nuclear industry and a common aspiration for a future free of nuclear threats.

The 2014 ANFA meeting was held on Arrernte country in Alice Springs with representatives from the following nations, communities and organisations: Arabunna, Arrernte, Koara, Kokatha Mula, Larrakia, Luritja, Ngaanyatjarra, Tjiwarl, TI Meriam, Warlpiri, Waramungu, Warlmanpa, Wiradjuri, Wongutha, Yankunytjatjara.

Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Conservation Council WA, Environment Centre NT, Freedom Flotilla, Friends of the Earth (Brisbane and Melbourne), Indonesian Greens, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Keep Queensland Nuclear Free, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide, Public Health Association Australia (NT Branch), Uranium Free NSW, West Papua.

Radioactive Waste

The ANFA meeting celebrated and acknowledged the seven-year campaign against a planned radioactive waste dump at Muckaty – an important human and environmental rights victory. Many people from Tennant Creek expressed thanks to ANFA for the strong support and solidarity over the years.

Community representatives shared concerns and experiences about the divisive impacts of the federal government’s approach to waste management. Continuing to pursue only remote dumping options further exploits disadvantaged communities. The meeting endorsed a national statement calling for an independent National Commission into responsible radioactive waste management based on science and evidence instead of a continuation of the flawed and failed process of targeting remote communities.

Uranium mining

Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima disaster but there is ongoing pressure for new uranium mines in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland and exploration threats in New South Wales. ANFA condemned the federal and state governments as out of step with the broad opposition to uranium mining across many communities and organisations. The meeting discussed specific action plans to target uranium mining projects across Australia.

Mine Rehabilitation

The meeting heard of the failures of rehabilitation of uranium mines and called for the national adoption and enforcement of the standard applied at the Ranger mine in Kakadu that requires radioactive mine tailings to be isolated from the environment for no less than ten thousand years.

Women’s Health

The meeting heard personal stories and long history of disease and impacts from the nuclear industry, including intergenerational sickness and mental health issues. Base-line studies from the past were not done but should be demanded for any proposed new projects for animals, plants, bush foods and people. There is a need to do healing: the pain and hurt caused by nuclear impacts will always be there but we should support each other through healing and engage our community medical services in collecting data and tracking impacts.

Men’s Health

The meeting heard about scientific studies that have demonstrated increases in cancer incidence among Australians exposed to radiation and we are seeing this in our communities. The consensus scientific view is that even the lowest doses of radiation can cause cancer and children and women are at greater risk. The impacts from radiation exposure are seen in our families’ health. In Australia uranium deposits have been known as poison or sickness country by Aboriginal people with strong cultural knowledge about the dangers – this traditional knowledge is still being ignored.

Weapons

The meeting heard that around 40,000 rounds of depleted uranium weapons have been deployed in Australian military training exercises. This raises serious concerns about where they were used and any subsequent health impacts from these weapons. We recognise the intergenerational health impacts from nuclear weapons testing as well as the documented use and impacts of depleted uranium weapons. The meeting called for all uranium weapons and nuclear weapons to be banned.

Rare Earths

The mining and refining of Rare Earth Elements (REE’s) was discussed. There is a need for roundtable discussion of stakeholders in the nuclear free, climate and renewable energy sectors to discuss the role of REE’s in renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar given that mining these elements involves the generation of radioactive uranium and thorium waste.

Land Councils

There was strong concern about the function of Aboriginal Land Councils in different states and territories. The meeting called for greater openess to ensure such bodies represent the wishes of Aboriginal people in their region. There were deep concerns expressed that full consultation does not always happen and ANFA representatives will be seeking to address these issues within their particular Land Councils.

ANFA Network

ANFA representatives in each states and territory committed to building the ANFA network and sourcing funds to produce and distribute resources needed for grassroots community education on nuclear issues.

In the shadow of Fukushima there can be no nuclear business as usual and meeting   representatives reaffirmed their commitment to actively advance a nuclear free Australia through involvement in ANFA, their communities and organisations.

CONCERNED ABORIGINAL PEOPLE OF CENTRAL AUSTRALIA: STATEMENT ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE

CONCERNED ABORIGINAL PEOPLE OF CENTRAL AUSTRALIA: STATEMENT ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE
On June 19 we received the fantastic news that Warlmanpa people had been successful in their eight year struggle to stop a nuclear waste dump being built on Aboriginal land at Muckaty.
We all supported this fight and are proud of the victory. But the Commonwealth and NT governments have not stopped in their attempts to divide our communities and impose a nuclear dump.
Being forced to accept Australia’s nuclear waste would be bad enough. But former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is openly campaigning for a dump to house nuclear waste from across the world. He says this is a “solution” to the dire poverty facing our people and that NT Chief Minister Adam Giles is a ‘keen supporter’ of the plan.
We have heard that people are being approached with the suggestion a nuclear dump could draw funding for bitumen roads and outstation housing. The Commonwealth Department of Education also offered scholarships as part of the Muckaty proposal.
NT Chief Minister Adam Giles was elected promising outstation funding and support to rebuild the community councils destroyed in 2008, but has delivered nothing. Thousands of jobs from our Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) were also taken away by the NT Intervention.
But why should Aboriginal people have to accept waste no one else in the world wants, to receive amenities and opportunities taken for granted in mainstream Australia?
Decisions about using our land for the nuclear industry cannot be restricted to small groups of Traditional Owners. If there is contamination, surrounding lands will be affected. Waste will have to travel long distances through many people’s country.
The National Radioactive Waste Management Act allows for compulsory acquisition of land near the nominated site deemed necessary for the project and overrides key environmental and Aboriginal heritage protections during site selection. Currently, only Aboriginal Land in the NT is under consideration by the Commonwealth.
Enough is enough. We will never accept a nuclear dump on NT Aboriginal Lands. We will not be blackmailed and will continue to fight for the public investment our communities deserve.
The Commonwealth and NT Government’s are causing more pain, division and frustration. But they are wasting their time. Any attempt at a nomination will be fought every step of the way. We won at Muckaty and we will win again.
Signed by :
-Jackie Baxter
-Marie Ellis- President Imwerkwernhe Council Limited
-Noel Kruger- Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson
-Rosie Kunoth-Monks
-Ngarla Kunoth-Monks
-John Leemans
-Margie Kngwarraye Lynch
-Pamela Kngwarraye Lynch
-Valerie Napaljarri Martin
-Audrey McCormack
-Elaine Peckham
-Barbara Shaw
-Walter Shaw- Tangentyere Council CEO
-Dianne Stokes- Muckaty Traditional Owner
-Tangentyere Council
-Amelia Kngwarraye Turner
-Peter Paul (Coco) Wallace

Muckaty nuclear waste plan DUMPED!

Some fantastic news today- the Commonwealth Government has committed not to pursue plans for a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty!

Lawyers from Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Practice announced the exciting development in Melbourne  this morning and a delegation of Muckaty Traditional Owners travelled to Alice Springs for a press conference- see featured photo.

The announcement comes mid-way through the Federal Court trial examining the process under which the nomination of Muckaty was made by the Northern Land Council and accepted by the Commonwealth Government in 2007.

Two weeks of the trial were completed with hearings in Melbourne, Tennant Creek and on country at Muckaty outstation. The Northern Land Council and Commonwealth Government have agreed to settle with the Applicants by committing not to act on the proposal or nomination, so the hearings scheduled for Darwin (June 23-July 4) have been cancelled.

This campaign has followed the successful campaign by the Kupi Piti Kungka Tjuta to stop a nuclear dump in SA and been built from the ground up in Tennant Creek with help from supporters across the NT. Over the last 7 years, the community has marched in Tennant Creek every year, hosted trade union delegations, written songs and poems, made films and toured photo exhibitions. People have travelled tirelessly around the country to build awareness and support, having conversations over cups of tea in regional areas and walking the corridors of Canberra Parliament House to lobby Ministers.

The community used the May 25 rally and media attention on the federal court proceedings to reiterate they would continue campaigning until the dump was stopped- including blocking the road if needed.

So the deadly news is now public – please tell everyone that together we dumped the Muckaty plan! Traditional Owners and the broader community in Tennant Creek are very excited and relieved and looking forward to a big celebration in the coming few weeks.

We will then set about collating photos, footage and other materials from the campaign, so stay tuned for the call out to copy and/or send these to the Arid Lands Environment Centre for archiving.

There is a lot more to say but we are still all a bit shocked and processing the news so will send more updates and reflections in the coming week.

One important point is that Traditional Owners have been absolutely clear that they will wholeheartedly challenge any attempts to nominate any other sites on the Muckaty Land Trust- an idea suggested by NT Senator Nigel Scullion today.

I was asked to finish this note with a huge thanks to everyone who has been part of this campaign and supported the Muckaty mob to be heard- every action, letter, conversation, trip to Tennant, fundraising gig and movie night has helped bring about this victory!!

Muckaty will be nuclear free!

Muckaty court report : Guest post by Bruce Reyburn

Below is an excerpt of a Songlines blog post written by Bruce Reyburn.

Read the full post here.

Excerpt from “A sniff of a long overdue refreshing change in the wind?” by Bruce Reyburn | June 12 2014.

The Federal Court is sitting in Tennant Creek at the request of Warlmanpa people opposed to the radioactive waste facility which the Commonwealth Government seeks to establish on Aboriginal land (anywhere) but especially at Muckaty – 100km up the road from here. The very concept is racist in its inception.

I understand that there was opposition to the Federal Court coming here to Tennant from the other side (not clear on details) so it is to the great credit of the Federal Court – under Justice North – that they are here this week listening to evidence from Warlmanpa people opposed to the radioactive future.

And it has to be said that this form of legal process is one initiated by Warlmanpa opponents to the radioactive waste facility. Lacking any other legal option (i imagine) they brought their case to the Federal Court.

I say this because they processes of this form of Western justice strike me as being at real odds with the workings of indigenous society in this part of the world.

The way the system works is that a single person is called to give evidence, and is then cross-examined. Then that witness is dismisses by the Judge and allowed to stay and listen to the evidence of others or leave.

But before anyone can give evidence they are not allowed to sit in Court and hear what other witnesses are saying. There is good legal reason for this – it ensures that the evidence people give is not unduly influenced by something they may have just heard from a person giving evidence.

The thing is – individualism of this kind is a comparatively recent development in Western life – and is not something which exists at a deeper level in the lives of First Peoples here. There is, by contrast, a very strong notion of being part of a collective – a group – which has (amongst other things) two complementary opposite parts – kirda and kurtungurlu – (like yin and yang).

Added to this there is a marked distinction between the worlds of men and women. Mens business and womens business are worlds clearly distinguished.

There has been a lot of evidence about both these facts of Warlmanpa life in proceedings in Tennant Creek this week

PITY THERE IS NOT ANOTHER WAY OF DEALING WITH THIS DISPUTE

Earlier attempts to resolve this dispute by mediation (both by Warlmanpa Ways and through the Western legal process) have not been successful. They appeared to lack serious support from those involved in the nomination of the radioactive waste site but i don’t really know why mediation was not a successful healing process. That is what is needed.

When I worked on land claims here in Central Australia the approach of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner was very different. People were always treated in ways which accommodated these fundamentally important features of their social Being. Kirda and kurtungurlu were present. Men and women treated according to the appropriate protocols.

Speaking about country and Dreamings requires the right people to be present. I noticed Dianne S (a very strong women with – as she says – culture) look trapped on one occasion when she was being cross-examined – she looked around the court room for the right people for that moment, but they were not in the room. She could not escape and had to continue.

Given the great importance of this case, procedures are required that ensure people can give their very best evidence.

I hope to tease out some of these matters when i return to Wollongong since there is so much happening here at the moment i need some quiet time to reflect on these things.

Yesterday in Court we heard from a very strong woman P Brown who was very capable and spoke strongly about key matters – but she was followed but a far less confident women who – isolated and alone – worried about other matters – situated in the middle of the intense focus of non-indigenous men – was subject to gruelling hours of cross-examination by Northern Land Council lawyers.

It just felt so wrong i had to leave the room – one less non-indigenous man i thought. Later on other Warlmanpa women expressed their concern about how she was being treated and ensured that they were in the court room to give her some support.

Read the full post here.