Resources Minister Matthew Canavan has decided the two sites proposed for a radioactive waste facility near Kimba will proceed to the next phase of assessment.
However he said progressing to phase two of consultation did not constitute a final decision.
The Minister’s decision was based on direct representations, an independent postal ballot and submissions during a 90-day consultation period.
The community ballot, which closed last week, saw 396 people vote for the nominations to progress to the next phase for further consultation, while 294 people voted against.
A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science welcomed the strong community turnout for the ballot.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science community consultation found widespread support from the direct neighbours of the nominated properties, with all but one direct neighbour supporting the assessment moving to the next phase.
This next phase will include the progression of a $2 million Community Benefit Package to fund local projects; employment of a local community liaison officer who will act as a conduit between the government and community; creation of a Kimba Consultative Committee which will gather views about the project; and the extension of the local project office, with staff continuing to be onsite regularly to answer questions as the site process progresses.
In-depth consultation and technical assessments of the Kimba sites will now be undertaken and the Kimba community will have another chance to express its views before a decision is made about the suitability of either of the sites to host a national radioactive waste management facility.
Mr Canavan said Australia needed a single, safe nuclear waste storage facility.
“Nuclear medicine is needed by one in two Australians on average, for diagnosis and treatment of heart, lung and skeletal conditions and a variety of cancers, and along with that comes radioactive waste,” he said.
“Radioactive waste is currently stored in more than 100 locations around the country, and international best practice is that it be consolidated into a single, safe and national facility.”
However Mr Canavan said this decision did not mean the site would necessarily go ahead.
“Progression to phase two does not constitute a final decision, rather, we now know that across the community there is broad support for continuing this conversation, and that is what we will do.
“I would like to thank everyone in Kimba for their involvement in this nationally significant discussion.”
Napandee landholder Andrew Baldock, who nominated his land in the first round, said phase two would give the community of Kimba the opportunity for a real discussion about the nuclear waste facility.
“The district now has $2 million to go into local projects, which could go a long way,” Mr Baldock said.
Mr Baldock said he hoped the community could continue open and honest conversation throughout phase two.
“It’s important for the community to raise any concerns but to also be prepared to have those concerns answered.
“For me, it’s really important for us to go through to phase two, as it gives us the opportunity to negotiate the community’s benefit package, while also bringing up any concerns and offsetting them.
“We have a lot of leverage to make a benefit package to suit us as a community.”
No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA president Peter Woolford said people who were opposed to the proposal were “completely gutted” by the Minister’s decision.
“The whole process has been about showing broad community support but this has not been shown,” Mr Woolford said.
“In all the discussions we have had with the Minister, he said we would need high numbers to reach the broad community support criteria.
“He said, that in Hawker, they had 65 per cent, and so we would need something around that.”
Mr Woolford said he felt the whole process lacked trust.
“I feel like we have been lied to by the Minister in every conversation,” Mr Woolford said.
“I was concerned what the Minister would have used as ‘broad community support’.
“The town is still evenly divided.”
In line with the relevant legislation, the federal government can continue to accept and assess any new nominations until a final decision is made on the location of the facility.