Federal plans for a radioactive waste facility near Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula face growing opposition with Barngarla Traditional Owners today launching a Federal Court challenge to Minister Keith Pitt’s decision to site the facility on their lands.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People requires that ‘States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.’

“The federal plan has many flaws, one of which is poor consultation with the Aboriginal and wider community,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Barngarla have never given consent. Instead, they have been denied a vote in a federal community ballot. This approach is simply not acceptable in the third decade of the 2000s.

“Fewer than a thousand South Australians have had a say in a plan that has profound inter-generational implications.

“The proposed facility is unnecessary given federal parliament’s recent support for a $60 million waste storage upgrade to secure the most problematic intermediate level waste at the federal Lucas Heights nuclear site for the next three to five decades.

“Extended interim storage at Lucas Heights is prudent and possible. Moving intermediate level waste from Lucas Heights – a site with security, radiation monitoring, emergency response and local expertise – to a site near Kimba with far fewer assets and resources is irresponsible and inconsistent with best industry practice.

“Sites that store and manage nuclear medicine waste around Australia will still need to do so, irrespective of the status of any national facility, so the Minister’s repeated reference to nuclear waste being spread across 100 sites is disingenuous and inaccurate.

“The planned federal action is contrary to SA state law and does not enjoy bi-partisan political support. The waste plan needs formal environmental and regulatory assessment and approval and is occurring in the context of both state and federal elections in 2022. This issue has a long way to run and will be actively contested.”

ACF’s 3-page background brief on federal radioactive waste plans

Measure twice, cut once: Advancing responsible radioactive waste management in Australia

Header pic by Michael Coghlan

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