The Australian Greens
The Australian Greens do not support the recommendations of the majority report that National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 be passed.
The Australian Greens believe that there are major flaws in the proposed bill and that the site selection process has been fundamentally flawed.
The Department of Industry has failed to explain why the bill needs to specify the site location.
Schedule 1 of the bill is a blatant and indisputable attempt to prevent any right of judicial review proceedings (as noted by the Barngarla Aboriginal Determination Corporation submission).
Evidence raised during hearings highlighted the current National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (NRWM Act) provides the legislative authority to declare in legislation the specific location for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF). Stipulating the site removes the ability judicial review.
A waste dump in the middle of agricultural heartland, will put at risk South Australia’s clean, green reputation and damage the state’s key grain export.
It is irresponsible of the Federal Government to ignore the Barngarla Traditional Owners opposition and to disrespect South Australian state laws by stipulating the site location of a radioactive waste management facility in South Australia.
The Australian Greens note that most of the 105 submissions oppose the bill.
The broader South Australian community has not had the opportunity to have a say (Geraldine Gillens; Austen and Ms Thelma Eatts; Medical Association for prevention of war (Australia); Australian Conservation Council submissions).
The consultation process has clearly been divisive for the Kimba community.
The Federal Government have been like a dog defending a piece of meat. Once they found their 160 hectares, they devoured and bribed the decency, innocence and fairness out of the best little community in Australia. A full assault that knew no limits.
There are deep concerns about Indigenous community engagement.
The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Determination Corporation (BDAC) were excluded from the community ballot and opposition to the NRWMF has been dismissed.
Communities and stakeholders within transport corridors have not been consulted.
The presence of a radioactive waste management facility in Kimba South Australia will potentially require Port Lincoln, Whyalla or Port Pirie to serve as nuclear waste ports.
These communities will necessarily be involved in the handling and transportation of dangerous nuclear waste. They have a stake in the decision-making process because they will bear some of the risk of such an outcome (as highlighted by The Maritime Union of Australia submission).
Every community impacted by the potential thoroughfare of nuclear waste should be directly consulted on this proposal.
While ANSTO has been at pains to ensure that low-level waste can be transported safely, it is not a decision for ANSTO to make in isolation.
Double handling of Intermediate‒level waste
This process necessitates the double-handling of intermediate level radioactive waste. The NRWMF is only intended to serve as a temporary holding site until waste is transported to its final, more permanent, disposal site.
This double-handling is not consistent with international best practice in the disposal of intermediate level waste. Alternatives should be canvassed, including the suspension of the site selection process until a permanent disposal site can be identified.
Recommendation 1: The Australian Greens believe the Federal Government has no mandate to situate a radioactive waste management facility in South Australia. It has mismanaged the site selection process, fallen short of international best practice and failed to secure the consent of traditional owners. For these reasons the Australian Greens recommend that this bill not be passed.
Recommendation 2: The Australian Greens recommend a halt to the process and the establishment of an independent expert inquiry into all radioactive waste management options.
Recommendation 3: The Australian Greens recommend that communities living along potential transportation routes should be fully informed of the relevant costs and benefits and offered the opportunity to have their say on the proposal.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia‒Australian Greens