Residents of the Flinders Ranges gathered at the Hawker Sports Club on Sunday, March 19, for the third of a series of public meetings about the federal government’s proposed Barndioota nuclear waste facility.
The meetings, organised by the Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG), explored the risks and ‘unknowns’ surrounding a proposal to store Australia’s intermediate and low level waste.
FLAG oppose the proposed facility on a range of concerns including environmental, health and Aboriginal heritage.
There was a particular focus on nuclear medicine and the history of radioactive waste management in Australia.
Speakers included Melbourne GP, President of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and a lecturer in public health at Melbourne University, Dr Margaret Beavis.
She told the crowd that nuclear medicine is not ‘adversely affected’ if this facility does not go ahead.
“The intermediate level waste has to be kept safe for 10-100,000 years,” she said.
“The proposed store for the Intermediate Level Waste is substandard and a quick fix - well below world’s best practice.”
The proposed site,130 kilometres north of Port Augusta, 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.
Another key process will be an independent and comprehensive indigenous heritage survey in collaboration with the traditional owners, to identify the location and full extent of culturally sensitive areas on the nominated land.
A final site will only be selected if there is broad community support and it meets Australia’s environmental and radiation protection regulatory requirements.
Also speaking was Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation who was on the national nuclear waste Independent Advisory Panel.
Mr Sweeney outlined national civil society groups call for a new approach to waste management.
The approach is based on extended interim storage at the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney, coupled with a detailed national examination of the full range of options available for the future.
The Hawker meeting was the last stop of a regional visit that saw the team visit Port Augusta on Thursday, March 16, and Kimba on March 17 where over one hundred people attended.