Local action group urges government to consider marine impacts of radioactive waste management facility

RALLY: Hundreds of protesters marched across the Joy Baluch AM Bridge in opposition of the proposed national radioactive waste management facility in August last year.
RALLY: Hundreds of protesters marched across the Joy Baluch AM Bridge in opposition of the proposed national radioactive waste management facility in August last year.

Groups in the state's far north are urging the federal government to consider a report on the impact of a potential nuclear waste facility on the Hookina Floodplain.

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.

Kimba and Hawker are both on the shortlist for a more permanent facility, which would house low-level nuclear waste and provide temporary storage for intermediate level waste.

Flinders Local Action Group member Greg Bannon said a facility on Wallerberdina Station in Hawker could cause major implications for water activities in the Spencer Gulf.

"There are few marine environments in the whole world like Spencer Gulf," he said.

"It is so far from Yorkeys Crossing to the open sea that about twice a month the incoming tide meets the outgoing and the water flow stops. This rare natural phenomenon is known as a 'dodge tide'.

"There are few places in the world where the sea reaches so far inland, from the Southern Ocean to the Arid Lands."

Wallerberdina Station is in the middle of the Hookina Floodplain, less than 100 kilometres north of Port Augusta.

The Hookina Floodplain is the flow-out area for three major Flinders Ranges watercourses: The Willochra on the south, the Hookina in the middle and the Moralana on the north.

Collectively, these three creeks have a catchment area of over 8600 square kilometres and all flow into the southern end of Lake Torrens.

"Water from the culturally significant Hookina Springs is known to run continuously into Spencer Gulf through the underground aquifer," Mr Bannon said.

"When Lake Torrens is full it overflows into Spencer Gulf over Yorkeys Crossing."

Emeritus Professor of Marine Geology Flinders University Chris von der Borch specialises in the sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Flinders Ranges.

Mr von der Borch has prepared a report for the Department of Indusrty Innovation and Science regarding the potentially detrimental affects of a national facility on the Wallerberdina Station.

"Of all the places in Australia that might be suitable for a nuclear waste dump, Wallerberdina would have to be one of the worst," he said.

" ... in the event over the next few thousand years of catastrophic mudflows, a seismic shock, or breakdown of the storage facility, nuclear waste could end up in the surficial sediments of Lake Torrens.

"Ongoing deflation could then result in widespread wind dispersal of radioactive material over a vast area, likely to be inhabited by humans in the future."