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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.

National radioactive waste dump proposal

Six sites around the country have been shortlisted to host a national radioactive waste facility. Public comment on the proposal, called the National Radioactive Waste Management Project, closes on March 11, 2016. You can make a submission via the government website, which also has an address for postal (and video) submissions.

Communities in each of the six areas shortlisted to potentially host the national facility are campaigning to be taken off the list. Visit their facebook pages via the links below and visit the national waste dump page for further information.

Hill End  |  Kimba  |  Omanama  |   Hale

Don’t nuclear waste Australia: community gathering to witness waste shipment.

The first shipment of nuclear waste returning from overseas reprocessing is due to arrive in Port Kembla (Wollongong) in the first week of December.

The Maritime Union of Australia (Illawarra Branch), South Coast Labour Council and Beyond Nuclear Initiative are organising a community gathering to witness the shipment being unloaded and transported to Lucas Heights for extended interim storage.

The BBC Shanghai is scheduled to arrive Friday 9:00am but may not berth then. We will hold the community gathering at Saturday 1pm and expect the waste transport from the Port to Lucas Heights to begin just before midnight that evening.

 

FACEBOOK EVENT:    Don’t nuclear waste Australia: community gathering to witness waste shipment.

 

The radioactive material was produced at the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor in Sutherland Shire and sent overseas for reprocessing, whereby uranium and plutonium are extracted. The returning waste is classified long-lived intermediate level waste and must be isolated from people and the environment for thousands of years.

Radioactive waste is a risk to workers who are handling the materials and people living along the proposed transport routes. However, while the nuclear reactor is still operating, extended interim storage at Lucas Heights is considered by many as the ‘least-worst’ option. It is a secure federal facility with the concentration of Australia’s nuclear expertise.

The federal government’s plan to transport this waste in five years to one of six shortlisted sites is irresponsible and unnecessary. Communities at all of the proposed locations oppose the plan and once this waste is back at Lucas Heights, it should stay there where it will be front of mind, rather than out of sight in a regional or remote area.

Radioactive waste is an intractable problem and the first principle of management must be minimisation- stop producing it.

A Royal Commission in South Australia is currently examining the possibility of importing international high-level waste, but we will not allow this shipment to be the start of increased transports or an expansion to the nuclear industry in Australia.

Join us at Port Kembla to say: Don’t nuclear waste Australia.

Radioactive Waste Update- March 2015

In June 2014 the Australian federal government abandoned plans to build the first national nuclear waste facility on Aboriginal land at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The decision came half way through a federal court case challenging the nomination of the site and is a testament to the determined eight year campaign by Traditional Owners and their supporters around the country and world.

Australian non-government and civil society organisations, including environment groups, public health organisations and trade unions, have consistently requested the Minister halt the search for a single remote site in favour of a process based on an audit of all radioactive waste materials in parallel with an independent Inquiry that considered the full range of waste management options.

However, in November 2014 federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane instead announced intention to open a nationwide site nomination and selection process for locating a national radioactive waste facility. The National Radioactive Waste Management Project (NRWMP) was officially launched on Monday March 2 and aims to shortlist nominations, assess preferred sites and declare a final location by the middle of 2016.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative considers this timeframe to be unnecessarily compressed and constrained, especially given that the first shipment of long-lived intermediate level waste returning to Australia from overseas reprocessing in December 2015 will be returning to a purpose built storage facility at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor complex just south of Sydney.

Waste currently stored in Australia is concentrated at two secure federal facilities; the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation campus at Lucas Heights and the CSIRO facility at Woomera in South Australia. There is little opportunity for public input and consultation built into the NRWMP, especially in the early stages.

Once preferred sites are shortlisted and field assessments begin, we understand that public input will include submissions to the Environmental Impact Assessment in accordance with the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act (ARPANS).

Essentially, there is still an underlying assumption – and a continuing push – that we need a single remote facility. However, Minister Macfarlane’s public statement that the Muckaty process was a ‘disaster’ has clearly influenced the approach to the revised NRWMP. After decades of top down decision-making based on a Decide-Announce-Defend model, this new process does at least contain some degree of transparency, clarity and a stated commitment to volunteerism.

Two committees have been convened to assist the government developing criteria to select a site; a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and Public Interest Panel (PIP). The Australian Conservation Foundation was the only civil society organisation engaged with radioactive waste issues during the Muckaty/Northern Territory waste dump proposal that was offered a position on the PIP. According to the government website (radioactivewaste.gov.au), each shortlisted site will be assessed against three facility design options, two of which only have low level waste being transported to the facility and intermediate level waste managed ‘under current arrangements’.

Looking at a broader range of options in collaboration with the two advisory panels – even if just on paper – is far better than the single-minded pursuit of a solo site for all radioactive waste located on remote Aboriginal Land. The Minister has taken a welcome half step back, but there are still many unanswered questions regarding this process, which we maintain would be far better addressed through an independent Inquiry.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative will continue to monitor progress of the NRWMP and inform stakeholders and interested parties of key developments and opportunities for input into the process. That this process is happening at all is a tribute to the tenacity of the Muckaty Traditional Owners who took such sustained action to protect their country and culture. It is also a tribute to all who supported them. Now we need to maintain our vigilance and efforts to advance radioactive waste management in Australia in a more socially and environmentally responsible way.

Regards, Natalie Wasley Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator.

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Please stay on touch with the Beyond Nuclear Initiative:

Web: www.beyondnuclearinitiative.com

Facebook: Beyond Nuclear Initiative (profile and page)

Twitter: @beyondnuclearoz

 

It’s time to manage Australia’s radioactive waste – not dump it

For over two decades successive Australian governments have searched for a location to dump Australia’s radioactive waste.

This has caused heartache in targeted remote communities and headlines in the national media. And this “out of sight, out of mind” approach has failed.

In June this year, after seven long years of protest and community resistance, the federal government abandoned plans to open a dump on Aboriginal land at Muckaty in the Northern Territory.

The buck should have stopped there.

But the government seems to have learned nothing and instead of taking a look at its flawed dump plan it is planning a new national search for another dump site.

The search for a dump site needs to stop and an independent inquiry into the best way to manage Australia’s radioactive waste needs to start.

The majority of Australia’s radioactive waste is currently stored in two defined federal sites and both have confirmed they can securely store this waste for years to come.

We have the time and opportunity to do things differently and better. We don’t need a quick and dirty dump – we need a responsible and lasting solution.

Please help tell the Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane that it is time for a new approach to radioactive waste management – one that is expert, independent and public.

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How to help:

Minister Ian Macfarlane is accepting public comments on his national dump search plan until November 10 and your small comment could help make a big difference.

Some themes that you might mention in your email or letter include:

• The history of two decades of community resistance and concern over plans for a remote dump

• The need to move beyond Muckaty and to have a new approach that includes people and explores options

• Australia has never had an independent and open assessment of the different ways available to manage radioactive waste – and now needs one

• We have the time and the need to do things differently via a public Inquiry to achieve a better and longer lasting result

• Radioactive waste is a long lasting threat and requires serious and measured attention – its management should not become a political issue

• Aboriginal and remote communities should not be the primary targets in the search for a response to a national problem

• All Australians get a better result when a decision is based on clear evidence and credible process

Comments can be sent by November 10 to either

• https://consult.industry.gov.au

• Manager, Radioactive Waste Management Section, Department of Industry, GPO Box 9839, Canberra, ACT, 2601