Letters to the editor

Different ANSTO experience

In response to last week’s letter by Terry Schmucker.

We were in the same tour group to ANSTO.  We were definitely not left in awe, excited yes, but not in awe of the induction or security.

It is after all, a facility of national security significance, and as such we would expect nothing less than stringent protocol and procedure.

We stood in the education centre, listened to the welcome speech, locked our valuables away and got on the bus.

Yes, an alarm did ring. Our guide was indeed quick to call and identify the alarm and relay to us that all was well.

At no point then, or later in the tour, do we recall anything about this (alarms going off), being a regular occurrence and something that happens all the time.

Our recollection of it was that our tour guide responded to the alarm in a diligent and efficient manner, as one would expect.

What we were all in awe of, was the amazing advances in medical, agricultural and logistical technologies we heard about; the on-site child care and kindergarten centre that any pre-school teacher or student would give their left arm for (and is full to capacity all the time); the cafeteria which served the most beautiful food and where patrons cleaned up after themselves, not wait staff or cleaners.

Terribly grown-up and responsible; and the waste stream centre, that left us completely bowled over with its work in environmental management and research.

Every staff member that spoke to our group during the tour were passionate, open and happy to answer our questions and share any information with us that we requested.

Kimba definitely will never be the same again.

Apart from Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, no other town or city in the entire country has had this opportunity to learn, grow and develop in such a life altering manner with world class experts both for and against.

The opportunity to visit ANSTO, a facility of global repute.

The opportunity to implement wonderful all-encompassing community projects far beyond what we could ever have achieved on our own.

The opportunity to stretch our beliefs and broaden our horizons.

The opportunity to secure our future for generations to come.

The opportunity to provide alternate employment options for our children and our children’s children.

We are real people, really thankful for this opportunity.

CARMEN RAYNER AND JASON HAYWOOD

Kimba

I write in response to Terry Schmucker’s letter on November 29.

As the department has previously stated, Australia does not produce high level waste and the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will not store it.

The independent regulator would never allow the facility to be used for international high-level waste.

High level waste needs completely different storage structures, management practices and regulation.

The nuclear industry is one of the most regulated industries in Australia.

Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) will be a world-class, purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility.

It will be operated in an open and transparent way, in line with international best practice.

But not just taking our word for it – this will be subject to independent approval, regulation and inspection with open transparent monitoring and reporting to multiple independent Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO).

It is important to remember that radioactive waste facilities and farming communities have co-existed for decades in Australia and in many other countries around the world without any reputational or marketing impacts on surrounding agriculture, tourism or other community activities.

In fact, the Champagne region in France - renowned for its grapes and wine including some of the most expensive agricultural land in the world - hosts a major low level and intermediate waste facility, and local populations, farm output and tourism numbers have all increased in this time.

In Queensland an intermediate level waste storage facility has operated quietly in the farming community of Esk, some 150 kilometres from Brisbane without any issues.

Terry is correct, the Lucas Heights campus is only licensed by the independent nuclear regulators to store waste on a temporary basis, and on the condition that a plan is developed by the end of the decade for a final disposal pathway for its waste.

I refer Terry and anyone else interested in this project to the fact sheets available at radioactivewaste.gov.au that provide extensive information on the proposed facility.

BRUCE WILSON

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Letters to the editor

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