Kimba waste site consultation debate returns

Kimba waste site consultation debate returns


AS THE process moves a step closer to the establishment of a radioactive waste facility near Kimba, criticisms have re-emerged about the consultation process.


AS THE process moves a step closer to the establishment of a radioactive waste facility near Kimba, criticisms have re-emerged about the consultation process.

Last week, a Senate Inquiry report was released advising federal parliament to pass legislation on the establishment of the site, including the location at Napandee, 30 kilometres from Kimba.

There were three dissenters from the Senate Economics Committee - The Greens' Sarah Hanson-Young, independent SA senator Rex Patrick and NSW Labor's Jenny McAllister.

In the same week, SA Labor MPs Eddie Hughes - in whose Giles electorate the site sits - and Opposition spokesperson for the environment Susan Close issued a joint call for the federal government to halt the process, saying not enough was done to include the views of the Barngarla people.

Late last year, the results of a ballot of Kimba District Council was released, showing 61.58 per cent of residents were in support of the site.

In March, the Barngarla people had their appeal, based on an argument this ballot contravened the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 by excluding native title holders, rejected by the Federal Court of Australia.

"Instead of rushing this quick fix by dumping in SA, the federal government should do the work on a long-term plan for the management of nuclear waste in Australia," Mr Hughes said.

"We clearly have an obligation to manage our domestic nuclear waste in a responsible way for the long-term. This proposal falls far short of meeting that obligation."

The same week, a survey from the Australia Institute showed 60pc of its respondents believed consultation should include all of SA and not just Kimba residents, while 50pc opposed the transport of nuclear waste on SA roads and ports.

Australia Institute SA director Noah Schultz-Byard said the survey was initiated to gauge the public's feelings about a site in SA. He said the 510 respondents were made up of a proportional representation of urban and regional residents.

Kimba District Council mayor Dean Johnson says consultation on the proposal had been ongoing for the past five years.

"It's been completely open and well-publicised and anyone in SA could have come along," he said.

He said the notion of statewide consultation proposed by some was not a solution.

"Kimba residents are really well-informed on this topic," he said. "The idea that everyone is the state should get a vote is ridiculous. Does Kimba get a vote on the smelter at Port Pirie or a mine at Leigh Creek?

"This is locals making a decision on the town and the community's future."

RELATED READING:Strong community support for waste ballot

Working for Kimba's Future Group spokesperson Meagan Lienert said the decision of the location was not just based on the Kimba council ballot but on a number of factors considered by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

She said Kimba and Hawker had spent five years in consultation, learning about site management, safety and security.

"Our community have a really good understanding of it all and to ask random people, outside the community, who don't have the same knowledge, it's hard for them to make a decision," she said.

No Radioactive Waste Facility for Kimba District group secretary Toni Scott said the group had long held the position the entire state should vote on this issue.

She said the release of the Senate Inquiry had again raised the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts about the site and its future.

Ms Scott said there were many parts to the legislation that needed to be approved, not just the location, and she was hopeful dissenters in parliament would continue to push for amendments.

"It's important to get this right," she said. "This decision is a permanent one for our state and community."

Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said site selection for a national facility had been ongoing for four decades by successive governments and the subject of many parliamentary inquiries.

"The site near Kimba was chosen following an exhaustive and detailed selection process and was chosen after 28 sites were nominated voluntarily across the country," he said.

"The new facility will support the growth of nuclear medicine that will provide benefit to an estimated two in three Australians.

"The site has the full support of all direct neighbours and local surveys have found broad support from the Kimba community."

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