Media Release

Greens to Visit Proposed Nuclear Waste Sites near Kimba

22/11/2015 11:00 am

Kimba residents will have the chance to voice their concerns about a proposed nuclear waste dump site when Greens Parliamentary leader, Mark Parnell MLC visits the area tomorrow, Monday 23rd November.

Two sites near Kimba, on upper Eyre Peninsula, were among six shortlisted by the Federal Government earlier this month for a proposed disposal facility for low level radioactive waste and storage facility for intermediate level nuclear waste.

Mr Parnell said South Australians should not be fooled into thinking the radioactive waste dump will be limited to medical waste such as test tubes, masks and gowns because the government is also planning to store intermediate level waste at the selected site.

"Intermediate level waste can stay dangerous for hundreds or thousands of years, meaning local landowners have every right to be worried," he said.

"Only last year in the US, a barrel of nuclear waste stored underground at an intermediate waste site in New Mexico ruptured, exposing 22 workers to radiation and costing an estimated $500 million to remediate."

The incident, which was caused by a "typo" in the instruction manual, saw the wrong type of "kitty litter" used as an absorbent. Mr Parnell said it demonstrates how serious any mistake can be when dealing with nuclear waste.

As well as the two sites near Kimba, the other South Australian site shortlisted by the Federal Government is at Barndioota, north of Port Augusta. Ironically, that land is "Crown Land" owned by the State Government, which under former Premier Mike Rann, fought tooth and nail to stop a waste dump being established in SA.

Mr Parnell said if one of these three sites is selected for the dump, it could represent a Trojan Horse for higher level radioactive waste to be brought into South Australia.

"The current Royal Commission into the nuclear industry is specifically examining the potential for our state to store high level international nuclear waste. This is the stuff that stays deadly for thousands of years. If a low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste storage facility is built, it’s likely that the next step will be a push for high-level waste to be stored at the same site.

"Under the South Australian Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000, it is currently illegal to construct or operate a nuclear waste dump in SA and the Greens believe it should stay that way. "

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