Kimba landowners visit Lucas Heights nuclear facility

A Kimba couple who have volunteered part of their property for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility got to see first hand how a nuclear facility works when they visited the Lucas Heights facility last week.

Brett and Michelle Rayner visited the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sydney’s Lucas Heights to see how nuclear waste is processed and stored.

During the tour, they also visited the OPAL reactor which enables nuclear medicine to be used for 10,000 diagnoses and treatments a week.

Mr Rayner said the visit showed him the waste was even safer than he thought.

“I was originally against the proposal but after attending the community meetings I got the information and could see that there are no safety risks and there is opportunity for our community,” he said 

“Based on that I volunteered my land but coming to ANSTO and seeing this operation in person has really confirmed for me that this waste can and is being safely managed.

“Being able to walk up to the intermediate level waste and touch the container it’s stored in, and to hear and see the different ways that the waste is treated to make it safe, was amazing.

“There is so much more done with this one reactor than I even imagined, so it was great to be able to come, see the way things are done here, and ask all your questions.”

In many ways it is no scarier than a garbage bin.

Michelle Rayner

The Rayners met with Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce, who grew up in the area, and talked about what it meant to have a nuclear facility in your backyard.

“When I joined council I had the opportunity to visit ANSTO and see how safe it is,” Mr Pesce said.

“ANSTO is a wonderful neighbour and partner and is extremely open and transparent about its work, part of which is essential medicine to help in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Australia and worldwide.

“ANSTO is significant to our local community, not only through the important work it does, but also through playing an active role in our community activities such as Council’s AUSFEST celebrations.

“It is also the second biggest employer in the Sutherland Shire.”

Mrs Rayner enjoyed the visit and being able to see the reality of what waste storage looks like.

“It has been extremely informative, it’s really opened our eyes to how safe the waste is – in many ways it is no scarier than a garbage bin,” Mrs Rayner said.

“I understand even more how safe the waste is, that if it’s stored the right way you can not only be standing right next to it, but you can even be working with it in nothing more than normal clothes.

“What’s done at ANSTO is just mind-blowing, and what stood out is the wide variety of research that goes on here, that people maybe don’t realise the huge contribution nuclear science makes.”

The two proposed sites in Kimba are in the second phase of consultation.

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