Resources Minister Keith Pitt has been forced to abandon moves to quash legal scrutiny of a federal plan for a national radioactive waste facility near Kimba in regional South Australia.

“More than a year after he began his push to make the choice of location immune from legal challenge, Minister Pitt has had to restore this fundamental democratic right in a move that passed the Senate last night,” said ACF nuclear free campaigner, Dave Sweeney.

“The Minister’s backflip to break this year-long stalemate further highlights the federal government’s piecemeal and politicised approach to radioactive waste management.

“The government has failed to demonstrate there would be any public health or radiological benefits in moving Australia’s most problematic radioactive waste from its current secure storage at Lucas Heights to a location with fewer assets and much less protection at Kimba.

“The Kimba plan shirks the hard and long-term questions. Minister Pitt is not advancing a comprehensive solution, he is merely kicking a radioactive can down a dirt road.

“There are many reasons why the Lucas Heights facility, run by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), is the best place for our worst waste until a lasting and credible waste management solution is identified.

“Lucas Heights has secure tenure, a 24/7 federal police presence, the best radiation monitoring and response capacity in Australia and around 95% of the waste is already there.

“Importantly, ARPANSA, the federal nuclear regulator, has confirmed storage at ANSTO is secure, consistent with global best practice and can safely remain ‘for decades to come.’

“The revised approach reintroduces Wallerberdina in the Flinders Ranges as a potential waste facility site, showing the government is making policy on the run and has little understanding about how damaging this plan is to community cohesion.

“In December 2019 former Minister Canavan said the Flinders Ranges was no longer being considered as a site. It is a profound failure that 18 months later it is back on the list.

“This is not a Telstra tower. Australia’s first purpose built national radioactive waste facility deserves the highest level of scrutiny – not a highly politicised approach.”

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