Despite divided community opinions, Kimba has been confirmed as the site for Australia's National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
The announcement was made on Saturday by then-federal Resources Minister Matthew Canavan, following a consultation and technical assessment process spanning more than four years.
The facility will be build on a 160-hectare block on Napandee, a farm 20 kilometres west of Kimba, run by the Baldock family. Napandee successfully met three broad requirements, having being classed as technically suitable, volunteered by the landholder, and receiving broad community support from nearby residents.
The facility will take up 40ha, with the remaining 120ha acting as a "buffer zone", and made available for renewable energy-enabling infrastructure such as sheds, and agricultural research and development.
The site will be capable of permanently disposing of low-level radioactive waste, and temporarily storing intermediate level waste.
About 80 per cent of Australia's radioactive waste is associated with the production of nuclear medicine, which is presently housed in more than 100 locations across the country.
While costs will be dependent on the site specific design - which will be determined in the coming years - Cadence Economics estimated a capital cost of about $325 million (excluding enabling infrastructure), with a fully operational facility expected to create 45 jobs, and generate up to $8.4m for the local economy annually.
A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources said the transport of waste to the facility would not pose a problem, with 10,000 doses of nuclear medicine safety distributed to hospitals and medical centres across the country each week.
The spokesperson also said the result of the ballot - 61.6pc of voters in Kimba supported the facility proposal - as well as formal submissions received, views directly obtained from traditional owners, and business surveys indicated broad community support.
It's a highly-regulated and well-managed industry, and I encourage people to reach out and get the information.- ANDREW BALDOCK
Kimba mayor Dean Johnson welcomed the decision, saying the facility would be beneficial for the economic prosperity of the town.
"With a minimum of 45 full-time jobs, that is just huge for our community, and it's in an industry that doesn't rely on rainfall, so that will be something that helps stabilise the community, and helps us through in times of drought," he said.
As a result of holding the facility, Kimba will also receive a $31m Community Development Package, including $20m towards delivering community benefits and support long-term infrastructure, $8m to maximise opportunities from the construction and operation of the facility, such as by job training, and upskilling locals and businesses, and up to $3m to promote economic opportunities for the local Aboriginal community.
Mr Johnson said knowledge of the benefits the facility would bring were vital.
"The only answer to negative perception is education, so we need to educate people and take that fear factor away," he said.
Napandee's Andrew Baldock said there was a feeling of excitement in the community, and he was confident that the facility could coexist successfully with the region's agricultural industry.
He said successful agricultural activity within the buffer zone would be a clear indicator that agriculture would not be hampered by the waste facility.
"Should any questions be asked of the trade in the future, it will be good to have a really definitive answer that these grains have been grown within the buffer zone, with no elevated levels of radiation," he said.
"The level and volumes of waste are pretty benign. It's a highly-regulated and well-managed industry, and I encourage people to reach out and get the information."
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