Preliminary earthworks at a contested site proposed for a national radioactive waste facility in regional South Australia are pre-emptive and unjustified, Australia’s national environment group says.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has confirmed ‘site characterisation works’ are set to commence this week at Napandee, near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

While these works are not the start of facility construction, they are a clear sign of intention and are inconsistent with repeated federal government assurances that it will not pre-empt the outcome of a current Federal Court challenge by Barngarla Native Title holders to the validity of the former government’s selection of the site.

“Advancing this project at this time is effectively pre-empting the court process,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“This is a political choice, not a radiological requirement. ACF calls on Resources Minister Madeleine King to revisit this decision and reconsider this project.”

The federal waste plan, initiated by the former government and driven by former ministers Canavan and Pitt, faces a growing list of critics as well as a legal challenge.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas recently supported the Barngarla Native Title holders’ right to veto the project and last month the SA Labor state convention stated the waste plan ‘undermines efforts toward reconciliation.’

Eyre Peninsula grain producers, Barngarla people and Unions SA, along with state and national environment, Indigenous and civil society groups, have united in opposition to the plan and the highly curated process.

“Federal Labor inherited a divisive and deficient approach to radioactive waste management from the former government,” Dave Sweeney said.

“The plan is not responsible, necessary or consistent with international best practice or Labor’s stated values and platform.

“The decision to commence site works is a poor one, but not an irreversible one. It should not be advanced by a federal Labor government.”

Header pic by Michael Coughlan

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