Letters to the editor

Minds made up

While Christine Wakelin thinks that a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will have ‘deleterious effects’, I and many others in our community disagree.

Over two years we have heard from the experts and from people who have real life experience working in this industry, near this industry, and indeed operating their farms adjacent to this industry, and repeatedly they say that it does not impact on them or their agricultural businesses.

These experts have said time and time again, in many different ways, as clearly as they can, that there is no evidence to suggest the facility would impact our exports.

While I understand on face value people’s concern, there is nothing but hearsay and hypotheses behind it.

The experts have provided us with facts and evidence that shows there hasn’t been an impact. We heard first-hand from the French farmers from Champagne that their produce has not been effected.

Everyone should read the agriculture fact sheet that no doubt has been delivered to their letterbox as it has mine, which has a specific quote from the Department of Agriculture on this point. Many of the countries that buy our grain have advanced nuclear programs, and radioactive waste is not something that sends them into a spin.

While ‘nuclear’ is new to most of Australia, countries like China and Russia have far more concerning nuclear issues than low level waste. They know that storage in state-of-the-art facilities is safe, and if the EP’s exports remain at the high quality they are now, I don’t see what issue they could raise.

Without evidence of contamination, there is no reason that our high quality crop could be considered anything but just that.

I was excited to see the senate inquiry report recommended the buffer zone around the facility be used for agricultural research, which can prove beyond doubt, any environmental impact.

The damage to the EP’s reputation is not being done by this proposal, but by the repeated claims of ideologues saying that the EP is ruined, all because we might want to invest in an industry that would secure our town. But ‘potential’ impact is not the same as actual impact, and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Permanent jobs and investment sounds a lot better than saying no to something because of ‘potential effects’ that have no basis that I’ve seen in hard fact. And on the point about intermediate level waste, the team has been very up front with us about the possibility for it to be stored. I’ve stood next to this stuff in Sydney and I don’t see how it standing in a shed there, or here in SA should be any different.

They’ve been honest that it will need to be stored temporarily for decades. I trust in the regulator and the government to find a solution for intermediate level waste.

The project team has patiently answered our questions and queries. They’ve repeated the evidence over and over, and provided us with all the information we need. I’d be surprised if the majority of the community hadn’t already made up their minds on this, so instead of dragging out issues that have long since been put to bed, now is the time for us each to our own decision.



Setting record straight

Barb Schmidt (EPT letters Sept 13), is not correct when she stated that Barry said the "level of radioactivity in the nuclear reactor waste is no greater than in a load of superphosphate". Nuclear reactor waste was not what Barry was referring to that quote.

He said low level nuclear waste, while being transported from Sydney to Woomera by road, was no different to transporting superphosphate which he still believes to this day – except he did not know that there were small amounts of intermediate level waste (ILW) through all of it. It was mainly soil from defence "research".

This is the key to an accurate explanation of nuclear waste -  some is safe and some is dangerous.

As of September 2018 the ILW at Woomera is being identified for  preparation for separation to go to Kimba or Hawker. Many will remember the security and planning when the spent fuel rods were shipped from Lucas Heights to France recently and the significant increase in funding for storing the ILW and its greater risks if it returns to Kimba or Hawker when the previously "spent fuel rods" return from overseas.

Most agree there are big differences in the relative safety of nuclear waste categories - which has little to do with the reality that Australia has plenty of alternative locations, including government owned land, which will never be considered by government.

We do not believe that Peter Karamoskas said anything like Barb Schmidt alleges. ARPANSA, the licensing body for the facility, clearly stated later that week that their guidelines say that the facility should not be on agricultural land.

We have 25 years experience in these matters and believe we have a duty towards any who do not have the power and taxpayer money of government.

It is a sad time for many of us who would never have expected to have to face an issue like this. One of the saddest moments for Barry was at a meeting where a guest speaker was attacked for being a member of Doctors Against Nuclear War, to which he responded, "yes and we were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize". That sums it up "for me and why I express the views I do".

Where there are tough issues there has to be an acceptance of the need to express tough opinions and to differ. What is about to happen will change many lives and some believe there cannot be healing. We believe that over time there will be healing and that is the best we can hope for.