Community tensions simmer over waste dump closed meeting plans

NUCLEAR: From left, Kimba Consultative Committee Deputy Convenor Dean Johnson, National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce General Manager Sam Chard and Convenor Allan Suter.
NUCLEAR: From left, Kimba Consultative Committee Deputy Convenor Dean Johnson, National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce General Manager Sam Chard and Convenor Allan Suter.

Plans for a closed meeting with select stakeholders in the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) debate have raised eyebrows amongst anti-nuclear campaigners.

Last week the Barndioota Consultative Committee (BCC) held its first meeting in over a year since the process was stalled by a federal court injunction lodged by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation.

The issue was resolved and protocol was amended to allow note-taking, provided privacy of the speaker was respected.

However a closed meeting scheduled between the Minister for Resources Matt Canavan, the Economic Working Group and the BCC has reignited accusations of secrecy.

Mr Canavan is scheduled to meet with the groups behind closed doors during a visit to Hawker this week, before opening the session up to the public.

"Part of the visit to Hawker will include a meeting with the Economic Working Group and BCC. It is important that these discussions are held privately as confidential and commercial matters will be raised," he said.

"I'm looking forward to open and productive discussions with locals during next week's community meetings at Kimba and Hawker.

"I've travelled to the communities a number of times to meet with residents to discuss ongoing developments with the project, including the ballot process, and opportunities that will come with the proposed nuclear waste facility.

"As has been the case with my previous visits to the communities, I'm happy with meet with supporters of the project and those who oppose it, including members of FLAG. Details of my schedule are still being finalised but I intend to do the same on this visit."

Plans to increase the footprint of the site were also revealed at last week's meeting.

The plans allow for a larger buffer zone between the facility and its neighbours, but the operational footprint housing the core facility has not changed in size.

While the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science originally stated it required no less than 100 hectares, further research and the results of a 2018 Senate inquiry has seen the buffer zone expanded from 60 to approximately 100 hectares at both the Lyndhurst and Napandee sites, increasing the overall footprint to 160 hectares.

Minister Canavan will be in South Australia next week to attend the 15th Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf Conference and Trade Expo held in Port Pirie on Wednesday, August 21.

He is expected to travel to Hawker to attend meetings later in the day.