South Australians reject proposed nuclear waste dump

August 16, 2018
Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners Regina and Vivienne McKenzie in 2016.

A nuclear waste facility site is on the cards for South Australia. The federal government has whittled down its list of potential sites to two communities: Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, and Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

But local populations, and the people of South Australia in general, have come out strongly against what they see as a natural disaster coming their way.

Local Indigenous communities have been leading the opposition.

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie, a custodian of the Flinders Ranges site, has noted that the site is culturally significant.

McKenzie told NITV: "Just in this one spot where they want to put it it’s got 14 different story lines going over it … If they put this waste dump there, that’s robbing us, that’s cultural genocide."

Yet the federal government is choosing to ignore these views and concerns.

Instead, it is going ahead with a “consultative vote” on August 20, in which 99% of South Australian’s are not allowed to vote.

Only people living within a 50-kilometre radius of the proposed sites are allowed to participate. McKenzie said Adnyamathanha people who are currently living away from the area would not be able to vote.

To incentivise voters, the federal government announced in late July that it would provide $31 million in community development funding for whichever town voted to accept the dump.

The government has also made it clear that the vote is non-binding.

“This whole process they’ve been doing, it’s totally flawed”, McKenzie said.

Australia has a looming nuclear waste problem but moving radioactive nuclear waste from one location to another makes no sense.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, headquartered at Lucas Heights, NSW, has the capacity and expertise to store Australia’s national nuclear waste for another three decades.

This time should be used to develop a cohesive plan for phasing out nuclear waste instead of building new waste dumps.

Taking away the land that people have considered sacred for 80,000 years is not closing the gap.

And a few million dollars in “community development” is a drop in the ocean compared to the health and social costs that will be incurred if the proposed facility goes ahead.

The government must not be allowed to go ahead with its proposed nuclear waste facility in South Australia.

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