Battle lines drawn in radioactive waste debate

In 2018 hundreds of people from across the state came together to rally against the proposed national radioactive waste management facility.
In 2018 hundreds of people from across the state came together to rally against the proposed national radioactive waste management facility.

Radioactive waste plans have been a topic of contention in Grey for three years so it's no surprise federal candidates were asked to clarify their views at an election forum at Central Oval on Wednesday.

Battle lines were drawn as current Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey continued with his support to locate a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at sites in the Flinders Ranges.

"Federal governments have been trying to solve this issue for 40 years," Mr Ramsey said.

"You are going to get the same result no matter where you go.

"This process has been open and transparent. Kimba and Hawker are the two best informed communities in Australia on this issue."

Locals from Quorn and Hawker, the two communities closest to the Barndioota site, have been vocally opposing the site since planning began in 2015.

The site selection process has been in limbo for over six months since the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) sought an injunction against a proposed community ballot for the Kimba district.

Centre Alliance candidate Andrea Broadfoot rejected plans for the facility to be placed at either of the current proposed sites, a decision welcomed by the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association.

"It is Australia's responsibility to take care of its own waste," Ms Broadfoot said.

"We are calling for there to be broad community support ... but we haven't seen a definition of broad community support.

"Barndioota and Kimba are not the places and we need to go back to the drawing board."

Candidate for Labor Karin Bolton and candidate for United Australia Party Alexander Warren echoed Ms Broadfoot's sentiments.

Australia's radioactive waste is currently stored at a purpose-built 'Interim Waste Store' at Lucas Heights in new South Wales and has been since 2015.

Nuclear Free Campaigner Dave Sweeney rejected claims by Mr Ramsey that the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) will no longer licence this facility unless there are plans to relocate the waste by 2022.

"ARPANSA have licensed this facility through to 2055, it requires periodic updates about the status of the government project, but its license is in no way in doubt and for Rowan Ramsey to suggest, state or imply that it is, is incorrect," Mr Sweeney said.

"His motivation is his to clarify but that statement is incorrect and where it becomes a problem in the current situation is that it could further the pressure on people over saying yes or no to a national radioactive waste dump.

"The really important thing here from the view of the Australian Conservation Foundation is that nuclear medicine in Australia is secure with or without the proposed government facility.

"To create a situation where the person who is elected to represent the one electorate in Australia that is facing this challenge and this issue is putting out information which is demonstrably incorrect. It's not helpful."

The selection process for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will continue after the May 18 federal election.