Single waste location is best practice
I write in response to ‘Don’t kick the tyres’, (Eyre Peninsula Tribune, March 29).
The Australian Conservation Foundation has long-standing and clear and consistent views on the nuclear industry, and that is absolutely their right, and we engage with them in good faith.
Australian government policy and international best practice, is that the radioactive waste currently spread across more than 100 places around the country be consolidated into one safe, purpose-built facility.
As John Loy, former chief executive of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), noted last year, the search for a single place to store Australia’s radioactive waste has been underway for some 40 years.
One of the main sites that radioactive waste is stored (though not the largest), is the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), whose waste is largely associated with the production of nuclear medicine that one in two Australians on average will need during their lifetime.
Nuclear medicine provides diagnosis or treatment for a variety of heart, lung, liver and muscular skeletal conditions, as well as various types of cancer.
While the discussion about the best storage location continues, ANSTO, whose Lucas Heights campus is in suburban Sydney, has applied to temporarily extend its storage capacity for radioactive waste, until an appropriate, national, permanent location is found.
Please let me make two final points.
Firstly, we have a responsibility to dispose of the waste we create.
This is what the independent regulator requires, and finding a permanent, single location for it is international best practice.
Secondly, the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will only be placed in a location where land was volunteered by a landowner, and broad community support for the facility exists.
Whether or not Kimba or Barndioota are the right location for this facility and industry is first and foremost a matter for the landowner and the community surrounding the nominated land.
The role of the department is to provide the facts to enable the wider community to come to their decision.
Only with broad community support would a site progress to the next stage of in-depth assessment.
BRUCE WILSON, Head of Resources, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Reading the federal government’s assertion of independence about all things radioactive (Eyre Peninsula Tribune, April 10) brought to mind an old German saying: no trader calls out ‘bad fish’.
The federal government is not an independent or impartial body in the debate around the siting of a national radioactive waste facility on the Eyre Peninsula or anywhere else - it is the proponent and driver of the idea.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is also not a disinterested party, it is the source of the waste and main beneficiary of it leaving where it is currently – and could remain for years - securely stored in Sydney.
These facts do not mean the people associated with the waste plan have horns and cloven feet but it does mean they have a vested and material interest in promoting and progressing the plan. They are not neutral.
Kimba and EP residents are being asked about a contested and complex plan with inter-generational impacts and many unknowns.
It makes sense to seek all the information and views in this process not just accept the line that Canberra knows best.
DAVE SWEENEY, Australian Conservation Foundation, Melbourne