The state government’s Nuclear Consultation and Response Agency (CARA) held a community engagement session at Central Oval today.
Depending on who you talk to, the verdict on the proposed high-level nuclear waste facility varied.
Upon arrival was Protester ‘Mark from Albert Park’, who voiced his concerns in a colourful display.
Inside, Port Augusta resident Gary Little attended the session for ‘community interest’ and said he’s been studying the issue online in his spare time.
“I’ve come in at it pretty neutral to see both sides of things and take it as i can find it,” Mr Little said.
“A lot of it I’ve done on YouTube already, with safety of the canisters and watching locomotives blast through them ... and canister-wise, safety appears to be there.
“Apart from that, something I’m trying to work out for later on such as where they’re going to put it to cover the social consent. I don’t think you’ll get that until there’s a spot to put it for people to jump up and down.”
‘Finance and economics’ are another important issue, according to Mr Little.
“(My next point is) how they’re going to get that money for it to be able to do all of this work and obviously where it’s going to go would need to have some idea on to get that social consent,” he said.
The session is one of 100 held throughout SA across three months and Quorn resident Clare Brown said the state government must stop the ‘ad-hoc’ style.
Ms Brown was also critical of other factors of the session and the proposed facility.
“I think it’s a bit strange to have it (the consultation session) so far out of town ... you’re not getting thoroughfare of people going through,” Ms Brown said.
“Probably the lack of real consultation with Traditional Owners definitely (is a concern) and also spouting that it’s ‘safe’ when I don’t think you can use that word for a high level nuclear waste dump.
“And the fact that they’re trying to rush something through in three months for a decision that is going to last forever sounds very odd.”
Ms Brown said the state government’s three-month visit through SA makes it difficult for people to understand the proposed facility.
After wanting to see how CARA was ‘engaging the Port Augusta community’, Ms Brown said CARA’s messaging isn’t helpful.
“I think they’re saying this thing, ‘you can only make a decision if you’re really informed’, but I don’t think I need to know the whole scientific side of things to know it’s not a good idea,” Ms Brown said.
“There’s a lot of people out there who feel really passionately and don’t want it, and they’re often made to feel quite dumb which is insulting.”
Engagement Team Leader Jason Downs said the session included a ‘very balanced conversation’ and defended CARA’s platform of consulting communities.
“Our process has been quite well planned out, we’ve endeavoured to put information through local media sources,” Mr Downs said.
“We identified 100 locations across South Australia so people don’t have a great distances to travel if they’d like to see someone face-to-face.
“We’ve got a large online presence as well so that people can go online at anytime and share their views and to review information fact sheets or via video format.”
Mr Downs said by mid-afternoon twenty seven people had attended the session, with safety concerns around transport of nuclear waste and the facility a common theme.
Some attendees have also left being ‘comfortable with the level of knowledge’ on the proposal, according to Mr Downs.
He said it’s important for people to attend these sessions to ‘support further investigation’ and provide feedback so decision makers ‘know how the people in the region feel’.
“It’s a chance to get the information, have a conversation with us around their concerns,” Mr Downs said.
“We have experts that are independent of government on all of our community engagement sessions that people can ask questions of.”
CARA’s next community engagement sessions are below.
- Quorn Town Hall – Tuesday, 20 September
- Woomera Theatre – Tuesday, 20 September
- Andamooka Town Hall – Wednesday, 21 September
- Hawker Community Sports Centre – Wednesday, 21 September
- Leigh Creek Tavern Dining Room – Thursday, 22 September
- Coober Pedy Greek Hall – Thursday, 22 September
For more information about the state-wide visits and other meetings, visit www.nuclear.sa.gov.au or freecall 1800 842 563.