Adnyamathanha man sees great opportunity in nuclear waste facility

VISIT: Members of the Adnyamathanha community at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. PHOTO: Department for Industry, Innovation and Science.

VISIT: Members of the Adnyamathanha community at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. PHOTO: Department for Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) last week welcomed members of the Adnyamathanha community.

And Tiger McKenzie, who was part of the group, enjoyed the trip, calling it an ‘eye-opening’ experience. The group were at ANSTO at the invitation of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, which is extending invitations for such tours to all community members near potential sites of a federal nuclear waste facility.

Barndioota, which is in the group’s area, is a potential site for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. “There were young people in the group and they went over with an open mind and I think from what I can gather, most of them came back with a different point of view,” Tiger said.

“Inside the complex itself there was a cafeteria, and around the complex there’s houses with people living there and tourists having a look at the facility … and people don’t wear protective equipment around the site.

“I worked in Roxby Olympic Dam and you have to wear protective gear but over there it’s safe, it’s telling me nothing is going to get on me.”

The group toured the campus, saw how the low level radioactive waste is packaged and stored, and stood beside the intermediate level waste container that returned to Australia from France in December 2015.

They also saw the other end of the cycle, including the OPAL reactor and the nuclear medicine production facility that produces the base material for the nuclear medicines that are transported all over Australia.

Head of Resources at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Bruce Wilson, said being able to see the waste in person adds a valuable perspective. “While the facility being considered at Barndioota would be different to that in Lucas Heights, some of the principles are the same – safe, secure and international best practice management of waste,” he said.

Mr Mckenzie said a range of checks and balances can be made to ensure any future facility wouldn’t have a negative impact on public health and the environment. He said it’s an opportunity for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to come together in ‘true reconciliation’ and work towards greater economic development. 

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