Waste dump consultative committee enforces strict observer protocol

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

Tensions over the federal government's plans to site a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility have reached boiling point in the wake of upcoming community consultation meetings scheduled for Kimba and Hawker next week.

The process has been stalled for more than a year because of a federal court challenge by Barngarla traditional owners, but last month the federal court rejected their bid to stop the council ballot.

Kimba and Hawker (Barnidoota) are the two communities who have been shortlisted for the proposed facility, which would house low-level nuclear waste and provide temporary storage for intermediate level waste.

The Department of Industry Innovation and Science's National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce plan to use the committee meetings as its main platform for ongoing community consultation.

The level of community consultation has been widely criticised by anti-waste dump groups such as the Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG).

In an open letter to the Barnidoota Consultative Committee, FLAG spokesperson Greg Bannon raised further concerns.

"The Flinders Local Action Group, as you know, represents the point of view from community members who continue to hold deep concerns about siting the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in our region," he said.

"These concerns do not arise from a lack of information on our part. As we have said previously, when the 'information' provided comes from only one source, that being the proposer and promoter of the facility, it cannot be unbiased.

"The meetings are supposedly for community consultation, but often fail to fulfil that expectation."

Mr Bannon said the meetings leave little time to answer community questions and criticised the timeliness of meeting minutes.

Locals have since complained that a new code of conduct for people wishing to observe the Barnidoota meeting is enforcing restrictions that make it even harder for the community to voice their concerns.

The code restricts observers from taking notes or recording any part of the meeting without prior agreement from the department, independent convener and all representative members of the committee.

It also states that individual ideas or views of committee members cannot be repeated or shared.

A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said the protocols were put in place in April last year after four months of consultation between the department and the Kimba and Barndioota consultative committees.

"They were designed to allow open, fair and honest conservation between all participants, and they have not prevented general note-taking at previous meetings," the spokesperson said.

"The protocol is managed by the committees, and the clauses on note-taking are designed to protect confidential, commercial or security-related details.

"At the committee meetings next week, the department will discuss the protocols and clarifying the clause on note-taking."

The Barndioota Consultative Committee will be held on August, 13 and the Kimba Consultative Committee on August, 15.