Australia Picks A Nuclear Waste Disposal Site – Now The Dance Begins

Australia’s Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, has declared that the national nuclear waste storage facility will be at Napandee, near Kimba, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The choice was widely expected as the government had already picked Napandee as its preferred site.

The famous Big Galah at Kimba, near where Australia’s first permanent radioactive waste disposal … [+] facility may be located.

Adam Eales

When one hears that a country has picked a Nuclear Waste Disposal Site, the first thought is high-level waste or spent nuclear fuel. But most nuclear waste disposal sites in the world are either for low-level or intermediate-level nuclear waste and many countries have them. Although incredibly safe, they seem to generate as much controversy as the higher-level ones.

These facilities are more correctly referred to as radioactive rather than nuclear. Most of their waste will be low level radioactive waste from medical procedures or from industry, currently held at more than 100 locations across the country. The facility may also store intermediate-level waste temporarily. None will be from nuclear power plants or from nuclear weapons production.

The United States, France, Sweden and Finland have actual nuclear waste disposal programs, having spent significant money and time, having full scale underground research laboratories, having broken ground or, in the case of the United States, having permanently disposed of some real nuclear waste below ground.

According to Minister Pitt, “This is a facility which has been looked at for over four decades. This is a sixth-year iteration in this process and it’s a facility that Australia needs.” Indeed, those want to stop any siting of a disposal facility anywhere should realize that this is necessary for continued use and development of nuclear medicine, the benefits of which tremendously outweigh and perceived any dreamed of harm, since no one in the world has been harmed by this type of waste.

The federal government is allocating a Aus$31 million community development package to boost the skills of local businesses and workers to build and run the dump. The facility would cost Aus$200 million.

The determination now opens the door to a legal challenge by traditional owners. Thus, the dance begins.

The issue has split the people in the region. Many want it for economic development, knowing the risks are so low they can’t even be measured, others don’t want it near them and just want it near anyone else. Ironic since a petrol station has more impact on human health and the environment than this waste site ever could.

Some of the native Barngarla people of the region have said they do not want the facility on their land. In a statement, the representative body Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation said it was denied the right to vote on the site. 

On the other hand, Minister Pitt said more than 60% of people in the Kimba council area supported the facility in a ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission.

via Energy News

Categories: Energy