Communities waste no time questioning nuclear future

10 August 2018

Stock Journal 9 August 2018

Final questions concerning SA’s nuclear future were raised in Kimba, Quorn and Hawker this week in preparation for the ballot on the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

Residents posed a range of questions to an expert panel that included representatives from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation, the National Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. 

Kimba Economic Working Group chair and long-time resident and farmer David Schmidt said it was a “great evening for education with about 160 people in attendance”.

“As a community, I think we are all across it now and ready for the vote,” he said.

Mr Schmidt said selection would “guarantee the town’s future” with the extensive benefits it would bring the community, including healthcare and jobs. 

“Everybody has told us how safe this is, and how regulated this industry is, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, whatever it may be” he said.

Kimba Consultative Committee member and chair of the No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba and SA Peter Woodford said people had been “very respectful throughout the whole process”.

Mr Woodford said from the meeting, there was still “definite uncertainty” about transport routes and the use of local ports for the facility.

Mr Woodford’s concerns surround land values and the stigma attached to nuclear facilities, which may hinder the Eyre Peninsula’s reputation as being “clean and green” agricultural land.

The five-week ballot opens on August 20 with a decision to be made by the end of the year.

Mr Woodford said the minister will be the sole decision-maker, based on ‘broad community support’.

“The point has been raised as to whether there should be a percentage figure of what ‘broad community support’ means – is it 65 per cent or 51pc?” Mr Woodford said.

Hawker Economic Working Group co-chair Ian Carpenter said the Hawker session on Tuesday night was well attended and any missed questions would be answered online.

Mr Carpenter said the community has been given all the relevant information and opportunities to be well informed for the vote. 

“I’ll admit, I strongly believe in the economic benefits it would have for our town and rural SA, but it is everyone’s prerogative to have their say on the issue so now it’s time to get the process over and done with,” he said.

All affected residents are encouraged to vote and people from outside the voting zone can make submissions until September 24.