Federal Nuclear Waste Facility Barndioota Community Survey

SURVEY: A photo taken from an anti-nuclear protest in Hawker in October this year. A community survey have found a majority of residents from Hawker and surrounding areas are opposed to the federal nuclear waste facility. PHOTO: Greg Bannon.

SURVEY: A photo taken from an anti-nuclear protest in Hawker in October this year. A community survey have found a majority of residents from Hawker and surrounding areas are opposed to the federal nuclear waste facility. PHOTO: Greg Bannon.

A community survey in the Flinders Ranges shows a majority of local residents oppose the federal government’s proposal to build a national nuclear waste facility at Barndioota.

Flinders Local Action Group conducted the survey to ‘test the federal governments claim of community support’. The community survey was approached in two parts in the region between September and November 2016.

It asked the question, “Do you want a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility established at Wallerberdina Station / Barndioota?” In total, 677 survey forms were distributed and 217 were returned with 26 forms voting ‘Yes’, eight voting ‘Undecided’ and 183 voted ‘No’.

It resulted in a clear majority who voted “No” to the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in the area, with 92% voting against it in Survey 1 and 79% in Survey 2. Local resident Greg Bannon said this survey contradicts the federal government’s claims..

“When the dump plan was introduced to our community it was claimed that results of a phone poll showed 65% percent support for the process,” Mr Bannon said. 

“However many of us with concerns about the proposal were not contacted and our opinions were not recorded. “We were assured that if the community did not support it, it would not go ahead but this whole process has been extremely divisive, with people feeling too constrained to voice their opinion openly.”

Mr Bannon said this resulted in local residents forming the Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG) to research the proposal and provide ‘independent feedback to the community’.

This is in response to material from the federal government, Mr Bannon labelled ‘one-sided’. The proposed site, 160 kilometres north of Port Augusta, near the towns of Hawker, Cradock and Quorn, will store low-level and some intermediate-level nuclear waste.

The low level purpose-built repository would be about the size of four Olympic size swimming pools with a 100 hectare buffer on the 25,000 hectare property. Designs have not been prepared for the national repository but it will be modelled on above-ground storage and disposal facilities overseas.

A spokesperson for the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said the reason that the site at Wallerberdina Station is being assessed, is because that’s what the community told us they want.

“Some 65 per cent of the general community and 90 per cent of businesses in Hawker and Quorn supported moving forward to this phase of in-depth investigation and consultation,” the Spokesperson said.

“This response was the obtained following extensive community consultation and surveys conducted by a professional independent research company (ORIMA Research). Design of the questionnaire and process was overseen by an Independent Expert Advisory Panel.  

“We are still early in that process that will last until the end of next year, and include detailed technical and heritage studies, and an assessment of community support.” The Spokesperson said that at the end of that process, if the site is not technically suitable or the community does not support moving forward with the proposal, then it will not proceed.

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