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Kimba nuclear waste dump: PM and SA Premier Marshall must step in

Community protest Kimba nuclear waste dump

Federal resources minister Matt Canavan has today announced his intention to move ahead with plans for a national nuclear waste dump near Kimba on SA's Eyre Peninsula.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said: "Mr. Canavan has decided to ignore the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners. That decision must not be allowed to stand. Prime Minister Scott Morrison should intervene to reverse the decision.

"SA Premier Steven Marshall should make it clear that imposing a facility against the will of Traditional Owners is unacceptable and unconscionable and that the SA government will fight the dump proposal, just as the Rann government fought and eventually convinced the Howard government to back down."

SA Labor argues that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close said in Oct. 2019 that SA Labor is "utterly opposed to the process" leading to today's decision. She described the process as "appalling".

Shamefully, the federal government refused a request from Barngarla Traditional Owners, native title holders of the area, to be included in the community ballot held last year. The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) engaged an independent ballot agent to conduct a confidential postal ballot. Not a single Barngarla Traditional Owner voted in favour of the dump. BDAC wrote to Mr. Canavan calling on him to abandon the nuclear dump in light of their unanimous opposition, and stating that "it is BDAC’s responsibility to continue to give voice to the profound concerns Barngarla traditional owners have and to take whatever steps are necessary to oppose the NRWMF being located on Barngarla Country."

Dr. Green said: "Mr. Canavan not only ignores the opposition of Traditional Owners, he also ignores local division in Kimba. The result of the government-initiated community ballot fell short of his own benchmark of 65% for 'broad community support' so Mr. Canavan shifted the goalposts. And he ignores the opposition of a majority of South Australians."

A 2018 poll found that 55% agreed that SA should stop the federal government from building a national nuclear dump in outback SA while 35% disagreed; those who strongly agreed with stopping the dump outnumbered those who strongly disagreed by a factor of three (41:14). A 2016 Sunday Mail-commissioned poll found that support in SA for a national dump (39.8%) was well short of 50%. A 2015 Advertiser-commissioned poll found just 15.7% support for a nuclear waste dump in SA.

Dr. Green said: "The federal government's claim that the nuclear waste dump will generate 45 jobs is a dishonest fabrication which is wildly inconsistent with job creation at comparable facilities overseas. At least when Prime Minister John Howard tried to impose a nuclear dump in SA, he had the honesty to acknowledge that no jobs would be generated."

"The claim that the waste is low-level medical waste is a dishonest fabrication. Measured by radioactivity, well over 90% of the waste is long-lived intermediate-level waste that the federal government wants to store above ground at Kimba until such time as a deep underground disposal facility is established. No effort is being made to find a location for such a facility so this long-lived waste would remain stored above ground in SA ad infinitum. The SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act ‒ an initiative of the Olsen Liberal government ‒ should be used by the state government to halt this unacceptable proposal. The SA government should also initiate a parliamentary inquiry to thoroughly investigate the issues and the options."

"Mr Canavan acknowledged last year that 93% of the radioactive waste is located at the Lucas Heights facility south of Sydney, operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. That is where Australia's nuclear expertise is concentrated and that is where the waste should remain."

"South Australians fought long and hard to prevent the Howard government turning SA into the nation's nuclear waste dump. We fought and won the campaign to stop the Flinders Ranges being used for a national dump. We fought and won the campaign to stop SA being turned into the world's high-level nuclear waste dump. And now, we will fight until the Morrison government backs off.

"South Australians have greater ambitions for our state than to be someone else's nuclear waste dump."


Media Contact: Dr. Jim Green 0417 318 368

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