Welcome job opportunities
As someone who has needed to travel outside of my community for work, I welcome the new job opportunities to Kimba that hosting the National Radioactive Waste Facility would bring.
The minimum of 45 jobs (and that’s without the cleaning and maintenance crews) would give myself and others who travel away to work some great local opportunities, and allow those of us dealing with the difficulties of FIFO to spend more time with our families and catch all those important milestones. And it will bring local job and training opportunities for our kids.
Like many people from Eyre Peninsula have over the past three decades, I work at Roxby Downs and am very familiar with the mining of radioactive uranium.
Kimba has had 30 years of close ties to a radioactive industry with Roxby Downs being affectionately known as “Kimba North” for a few years in the late 80s and early 90s as it was being established.
My recent trip to ANSTO allowed me to see for myself how safe and tightly regulated the storage of low – intermediate waste really is. I’ve had ample opportunity over the past 18 months or so to become much more informed on the ‘end life’ of radioactive products not just the first stages of removing it from the ground.
As job opportunities shrink in our ag community with increased mechanisation, so does our population, services, and facilities. Hosting a storage facility for Australian radioactive waste would bring diversification to our district and continue the long term relationship the people of this area have had with radioactive substances.
More risk from asbestos
Old asbestos, in my view, is a much greater cause of health problems for Eyre Peninsula residents than properly contained nuclear waste.
My husband and I and many other people you would know plus people interstate and overseas are alive today because of the nuclear isotopes made at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor near Canberra.
The waste products from this reactor and from the lifesaving services they have provided, and will continue to provide for the future, including all the MRI, CT and X-ray procedures in hospitals and dental clinics; plus, gloves gowns and thousands of other miscellaneous items are held in over hundreds of locations in cities and towns, including many hospitals, across Australia.
It is surely better to hold these waste products in one central purpose-built repository.
A location near Kimba has stable geological ground and is evidently well placed to progressively provide the services required as suitable facilities are constructed.
The Eyre Peninsula region needs diverse economic activities if the region is to have the services and jobs that will help to retain our young people and their families and to attract others. Water, power, roads and other infrastructure also need to be upgraded.
The asbestos is found in many of the older buildings including the homes and the hundreds of shacks that cluster around the coast and currently used by the elderly and young families.
These can be sources of death and disease from asbestosis resulting from the fibres released from the deteriorating asbestos contained in walls, ceilings, tiles and linoleum in the older buildings.
It is often not recognised by renovators, demolishers or even people putting up a picture on a wall.
Some of the $31 million incentive money for hosting this facility might wisely be used to promote the identification and decontamination of potentially hazardous asbestos installations.
Air services, local schools, hospital and similar public facilities are likely to be improved because of the economic benefits, and “technology” tourists coming to see the facility will also become aware of the beautiful Eyre Peninsula and perhaps stay a while in our towns with likely spin offs from more jobs and more people.
I urge the Kimba people to vote “yes”.
All at sea
The secretive transport of spent nuclear fuel rods from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney raises real issues for South Australia and the Eyre Peninsula.
The material being shipped to France is ‘boomerang waste’ as after reprocessing in France the long-lived intermediate level waste will be returned to Australia
The shipment has not solved the complex management issues with nuclear waste, it has merely bought some time and further highlighted the lack of an integrated and evidence-based national approach to radioactive waste management.
There is no federal process to identify the best place and method to manage this waste, some of which requires isolation for periods of up to 10,000 years.
The federal government’s current push to find a site in regional South Australia where it can dispose of low level waste and store intermediate level waste until a long-term management decision is made lacks credibility and involves unnecessary duplication and uncertainty.
The dump plan is deeply divisive and strongly contested.
Many in the affected local communities are joining the growing national environment, public health and wider civil society group call for the federal government to explain how extended interim storage of waste at a regional site makes more sense than extended storage at Lucas Heights, which enjoys far superior security, staffing, monitoring and response capacity.
Right now the federal government’s policy approach is like the spent fuel rods – all at sea.
Australian Conservation Foundation