Senator Rex Patrick wants nuclear waste facility in Woomera

NUCLEAR: Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick wants the Woomera Prohibited Area to be reconsidered as a site for the national radioactive waste management facility.
NUCLEAR: Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick wants the Woomera Prohibited Area to be reconsidered as a site for the national radioactive waste management facility.

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has called on the federal government to reconsider the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) as a location for the national radioactive waste management facility.

The request comes after the Senator received documents under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, revealing the Department of Industry had analysed a number of sites, including the WPA.

The possibility of using the 122,000-square kilometre military testing range for the facility was dismissed by the Defence department due to its “impracticability” and “intolerable risk”.

Mr Patrick said the Defence’s claims were “disingenuous” and “nimby in attitude”, as the Woomera Test Range already serves as a radioactive waste storage site.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) stores 10,000 drums of low and intermediate level waste in a hangar at Evetts Field, 1.3kms from the Woomera Range head.

Defence also stores 35 cubic metres of intermediate level waste in a bunker 5km down range.

"If storing radioactive waste in the WPA represents an intolerable risk, why has this considerable store of waste been allowed to stay there for 24 years?" Mr Patrick said.

"It seems that Defence is never stronger in defending territory than when it comes to defending its own."

Mr Patrick revealed a 414-page report from the former Department of Education, Science and Training, which examined a potential facility inside and nearby the WPA.

The report recommended Evetts Field as a preferred location.

The Senator said the report contradicts Defence’s “shallow” analysis.

"How can the Government tell the deeply-divided communities of Hawker and Kimba that there is absolutely nowhere within the more than 122,000 square kilometres of Woomera that would be suitable for a radioactive waste facility?" he asked.

Mr Patrick said he would continue to pursue the possibility of the national radioactive waste management facility being located in the WPA.

Two sites in Kimba and one in Wallerberdina Station near Hawker have been nominated to host the facility.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan was contacted, but unavailable for comment.