EXPERTS from French radioactive waste management organisation Andra met with about 35 local residents at the Standpipe Golf Motor Inn on Wednesday February 8.
The visit came after Barndioota, 160 kilometres north of Port Augusta, was nominated for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, storing low-level and some intermediate-level nuclear waste.
The proposed facility received mixed reviews, with the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association declaring their disapproval on February 5.
The French delegates received similar concerns when waste management facilities were first proposed in their regions, leading the government to invite the French to speak to residents in Hawker, Quorn, Kimba and Port Augusta.
Head of the Resources Division in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Bruce Wilson said the French experience supports his belief that these facilities would not pose any negative impacts in agriculture, land value and tourism.
“We thought that this was a really valuable experience for the people in these communities, who have very genuine concerns about this, to come and hear what the French experience was,” Mr Wilson said.
A similar 95-hectare facility was built in Aube, a champagne region in France, amongst some of the most expensive agricultural land in the world.
Director of the Aube Disposal Facility Patrice Torres said the French delegates hoped to help build confidence and trust between the residents and the government through their own experiences.
“Our facility in France is in the middle of a region where they do cabbage, milk and of course a very well-known champagne. All of those activities can easily cohabit with our facilities without any problem,” he said.
Mayor of Fresnay and champagne producer Pierre Jobard said no harm has been done to any residents in his region since the facility was established 22 years ago.
The proposed Barndioota facility is expected to support infrastructure, create long term jobs, provide employment and business opportunities, and invest $10 million into local projects.
Mayor of Soulaines and local tourism board member Philippe Dallemagne said his region has seen boosts in tourism and business, with new restaurants and hotels built around the facility.
“We’ve been able to restore a lot of buildings in our region and get back some of the architectural richness that was there before,” he said.
There were varied responses to the French delegation’s presentation from local residents.
Local resident Nick Likouresis believes there were confusions between this proposal and the high-grade nuclear waste facility suggested by a state royal commission, but the presentation provided much-needed clarity.
“At first I was afraid and I thought this can’t happen, but I spoke to a few people, not only today but last week as well and they explained what is actually being proposed,” he said.
“I honestly don’t think there’s much of a risk. They are going to occupy a space of land with it, but I don’t think it will affect the community too much.”