French nuclear delegation visit Kimba

Aube Disposal Facility director Patrice Torres Fresnay mayor Pierre Jobard, Soulaines mayor Philippe Dallemagne and Andra International's Jelena Bolia.
Aube Disposal Facility director Patrice Torres Fresnay mayor Pierre Jobard, Soulaines mayor Philippe Dallemagne and Andra International's Jelena Bolia.

ABOUT 150 people attended a presentation at Kimba on Saturday by residents living next to one of France’s nuclear waste facilities in the area of Champagne.

Kimba community members asked questions of France’s Aube nuclear waste facility director Patrice Torres, tourism board director and Soulaines mayor Philippe Dallemagne and cereal and vegetable producer and Fresnay mayor Pierre Jobard about their experiences living next to a waste facility as community members, business owners and primary producers.

Mr Dallemagne said the initial installation of the facility about 30 years ago caused much angst in his community with about 85 per cent of residents in the area not wanting the facility.

“In 1984 I was a simple person and knew nothing about nuclear waster and what mattered to us was safety and health, I did not want it.

“Over time ANDRA (The National Radioactive Waste Management Agency, France) have built trust between us and them.

“We receive daily reassurances about our health and safety, and we do not ever want to lose the facility as it provides to much to our communities.”

Mr Dallemagne said there had been no negative impact on tourism or the image of Champagne produce since the facility opened.

No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA member Kellie Hunt said the meeting had only highlighted the differences between what the Australian federal government wanted and the Aube facility. 

“For me, the French visit really highlighted some major differences between the Aube site and the proposed Australian facility.

“Most importantly for us is the differences in the waste the facilities house” she said.

“Although larger, the French facility accepts low-intermediate short lived waste, which is very different to the intermediate level long lived waste to be stored at the Australian site.”

Mrs Hunt said due to differences in classifications, the waste in the Australian site would be classified as high level waste in France.

She said this could present a higher risk to the “clean and green” image and reputation of Kimba and Eyre Peninsula’s agricultural industry.

The mayor of Fresnay, a village of about 200 people, Pierre Jobard said he farmed cereal crops and had no issues with the nuclear waste site as it had brought revenue into his village through job security provided by the facility, which employs about 300 people.

Villages and communities that abut the site also receive a percentage of ANDRA’s government taxes. 

Mrs Hunt said the long-term economic and employment opportunities would be fewer in Australia compared to France.

“Due the profitable nature of France’s nuclear industry, the facility passes on approximately 3.75 million Euro per year to the surrounding communities, compared to a one off payment of $10 million the Australian Government is offering. 

“The Aube site also employs 300 people, which obviously has a far greater impact on the community than the approximate 15 jobs the Australian site may provide.”

Working for Kimba’s Future committee member Meagan Lienert said the discussion had given her a sense of confidence and there had been positive feedback from community members.

“There was so much to learn from the French and knowing that the proposed facility for Australia will be based on something like the French one at Aube, gives me a sense of peace.

“I have received feedback from many locals that attended and it has been positive and they all learnt a lot from the presentation,” Mrs Lienert said. 

She said it was good to hear about the communication between the French site’s operators and adjacent communities and reassuring to hear how a waste site could successfully operate “side-by-side in an agricultural region”.

“It was great to hear how their communities changed their opinions through listening to facts about radioactive waste storage and through ANDRA sharing honest information at a good level, being transparent and building trust.”

Mrs Lienert said one of the French presenters had said the money received by the community (from ANDRA taxes) was null and void compared to the long term social and economic benefits to his village.

“For one council district it is not about how much money they received it is about the activity that ANDRA have brought to their community and region, the direct and indirect jobs it has created, the facilities that have come with it for the community and much more,” Mrs Lienert said.