Nuclear waste info session held for community members

RADIOACTIVE WASTE: Nuclear Taskforce Principal Advisor Bruce Wilson hosted the community information session in Port Augusta. PHOTO: Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
RADIOACTIVE WASTE: Nuclear Taskforce Principal Advisor Bruce Wilson hosted the community information session in Port Augusta. PHOTO: Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Members of the Adnyamathanha and Barngarla communities gathered in Port Augusta for an information session about the national radioactive waste management facility.

Representatives from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), engineering firm AECOM and heritage group RPS were all present to provide information about the facility.

Community members were able to ask the experts any questions about the current status of the project and what functions the potential facility would serve.

Nuclear Taskforce Principal Advisor Bruce Wilson said questions were asked about the process for siting the facility, cultural heritage studies, technical suitability, jobs and security.

“The elders wanted us to provide the facts, and more broadly this was a great chance to let people know how important nuclear medicine and research is, and how the by-products are safely managed," Mr Wilson said.

“The Department would like to offer its thanks to those who took the time out to participate in this information session, and also thank the community for its patience during this process.”

The session was organised at the request of Adnayamathanha elders Tiger McKenzie and Angelina Stuart to give locals more information about the proposed facility.

Ms Stuart said the session was well-attended and very informative, presenting "new information and facts, instead of the bad image".

“It was 231 years ago that Aboriginal life changed. My generation was the last of my family to be born in the bush and we can’t look back, we need to look forward and we need a strong future,” she said.

“The best future we can secure for the next generation is one where our people have opportunities and jobs, and our community has strength.

“This is my land and I value it and I would never do anything to threaten it, or the flora and the fauna, the kangaroo or the lizard."

Mr McKenzie said the session provided information about heritage assessment, flora, fauna, transport and safety.

“It was great to see so many of our people turn up and engage in this process. The meeting was well done, where people asked questions and participated, even if they didn’t agree," he said.

“The presentation showed the facility site would be well away from the sacred sites and the creek.”

The potential facility has divided opinions in both Hawker and Kimba, with community members protesting against the project on multiple occasions.

The most recent protest was held at the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide in November 2018.