South Australia: The nuclear state?

Robyn Wood

Since the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle was announced in February by SA Premier Jay Weatherill, the nuclear free community has come together to soundly reject the idea that SA should have an expansion of uranium mining, enrichment, nuclear energy, or host a national or international nuclear waste dump.

Friends of the Earth Adelaide members have been working closely with the Conservation Council of SA and Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide (NOWPA), and helped form an anti-nuclear SA coalition to track and respond to the Royal Commission and to engage the wider community.

We had two opportunities to comment on the proposed Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission, and had a win with the commission agreeing to look at potential impacts of a nuclear industry on industries such as farming, food production, and tourism, and another win with the Commission agreeing to consider the history of the uranium/nuclear in industry in SA. FoE Adelaide made submissions in response to all four of the Royal Commission's issues papers on mining, enrichment, electricity and waste (http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/information-library), while FoE Australia joined forces with the Australian Conservation Foundation and the SA Conservation Council to produce a 250-page submission (www.foe.org.au/royal-commission).

The Australian newspaper complained that "greenies flooded the Royal Commission with submissions" so that shows just how much support we have on our side. A survey commissioned by the Adelaide Advertiser (a Murdoch tabloid) found that only 15.7% of South Australians support a nuclear waste dump in the state, and only 26.6% support a nuclear power station.

FOE and NOWPA supported the Conservation Council in marking Fukushima Day on March 11 at Parliament House to acknowledge that in the four years since the accident began, the tragedy is still ongoing with the situation far from being under control. A nuclear free community picnic, sushi and poetry slam fundraiser was also held under the willows on the banks of the River Torrens to honour Fukushima Day. The winning poet was well respected Karina Lester with her poem about the impact of Maralinga nuclear weapons testing on her family. We also had a strong nuclear-free contingent at the 'March in March' parade and rally against the Abbott government.

FoE Adelaide were pleased to be able to financially assist Aboriginal people to attend an important meeting at Port Augusta in May to discuss the Royal Commission and how to respond to it. The meeting released the following statement:

South Australian Traditional Owners say NO!
Statement from a community meeting held in Port, Augusta, on Saturday 16 May 2015 to discuss The Royal Commission Into The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
We oppose plans for uranium mining, nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land.
We call on the SA Royal Commission to recommend against any uranium mining and nuclear projects on our lands.
We call on the Australian population to support us in our campaign to prevent dirty and dangerous nuclear projects being imposed on our lands and our lives and future generations.
Endorsed by members from the following groups, present at the Port Augusta meeting: Kokatha, Kokatha-Mirning, Arabunna, Adnyamathanha, Yankunytjatjara-Pitjanjatjara, Antikirinya-Yunkunytjatjara, Kuyani, Aranda, Western Aranda, Dieri, Larrakia, Wiradjuri.

In July, FoE Adelaide hired a part-time anti-nuclear/pro-renewables campaigner, Nectaria Calan, for six months to November. If you can financially support our work in this important period, please visit: www.givenow.com.au/foeadelaide. You can follow our campaign progress on our FoE Adelaide website (www.adelaide.foe.org.au) and facebook page (facebook.com/foe.adelaide)

For more information please contact Robyn Wood robyn.wood@foe.org.au

Published in Chain Reaction, national magazine of Friends of the Earth, Australia, edition #124, September 2015, www.foe.org.au/chain-reaction