We will continue to work with the community
I write in response to ‘Two years on’, Eyre Peninsula Tribune, October 19, to address some of the points made by Mr Wakelin.
I thank Mr Wakelin for his continued interest, scrutiny and questions in relation to the process to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
It is important that we continuously show we are delivering a fair, transparent and accountable outcome, based on rigorous scientific and technical design and assessment.
Our department believes that our process will do exactly that.
For more than 40 years Australia has been searching for an appropriate location to store our radioactive waste, which is currently spread across more than 100 locations around the country.
Two sites in Kimba and one at Wallerberdina Station were volunteered by their respective landowners, and they are now in a process of rigorous assessment and consultation to understand the technical aspects of the facility and whether the community broadly supports moving forward.
We have opened an office in Kimba so the community can engage directly with us and we have, and will continue to, provide access to independent experts to deliver information and answers questions.
This process is not about transferring problems, it is about finding a permanent long-term solution to decades of Australian radioactive waste.
While our current radioactive waste storage methods are safe they are not built for permanent storage and in many cases not even long-term management.
The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will be purpose-built and state-of-the-art, posing no risk to people or the environment and therefore will not impact on the reputation or otherwise of a region when it comes to tourism, agriculture or other local industries.
Further, the facility will be overseen by our national radiation safety, security and environmental regulators.
We continue to work with the community to provide the information it needs to make an informed decision on whether this is the right type of industry for the area.
Head of Resources, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Aged care should be inclusive
Aged care and in particular care for those with dementia is in the news often because of our ageing population.
I, too, support an appropriate facility for Cleve and surrounding areas (Tribune, October 19) as sending a loved one to Port Lincoln or Elliston can make the distances hard for the carer left behind.
But I hope these aged “homes” don’t end up like the orphanages and mental institutions of yesteryear, with the isolation of the aged.
Before the planning, I think we need to look at the model we are building to see if we can do it better.
Consideration should include shared accommodation, so couples are not by necessity separated.
Space for a fold out sofa bed so a loved one (ie grandchild etc) can visit and stay overnight.
This would cost more in the building but in the longer term the partner without dementia becomes part of the caring regime, helping with the care of their loved one, mornings, evenings, weekends, meaning a lessening of actual staff numbers needed, still with backup support so they can go to work (we are being encouraged to work longer), attend family functions etc knowing the loved one is in a safe place.
Other cultures care for their elderly in the family home – Australia sees our children scattered far and wide.
But I think it is a backward step to be splitting up couples (who have often been together many years). It can only be good for the dementia sufferer to be in touch with their familiar partner when they can no longer be safe at home.
There would be hurdles to cross and I could list many but I truly believe it is a discussion we need to have before we keep building and facilities where we lock away a whole section of the community.
Woomera facility tour request
I was asked to join the farmer’s delegation from Buckleboo for the October visit to the Lucas Heights radioactive facility and to meet the relevant Minister in Canberra.
Because of this I took the opportunity and made it known at the Central Eyre Ag Bureau sticky beak day and took concerns from a number of people about the proposed waste dump on Eyre Peninsula.
I was asked again recently how the trip went.
I need to let people know that I didn’t go as the department was concerned about costs and reduced the number of people who went.
Instead I have written to Bruce McCleary and the department to facilitate a tour of the Woomera radioactive waste storage facility.
This facility holds 40 per cent of the waste headed to the new disposal site including medium and low level radioactive waste.
It would be good for us locals to see a country location in its working state and talk to the people that work there now and learn more about the industry.
I am sure there is plenty of interest from Eyre Peninsula and the Flinders Ranges areas.
I will make sure people will know if it goes ahead.