Nuke dump: What's the rush?


There is no rush for a nuclear waster dump: That was the conclusion of a well-attended meeting last night to object to the possibility of such a facility being built about 100 km south of Alice Springs.
Spokeswoman Hilary Tyler says the nation’s only nuclear reactor, Lucas Heights, near Sydney, and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) have enough storage for the next 10 or 20 years. There is no need for the current “higgledy-piggledy” push for a dump.
She says in that time nuclear medical technology – the main reason given for the need of storage of radioactive materials – will have advanced significantly during that time.
Dr Tyler says in Canada, for example, high-radiation processes have been replaced with cyclotrons that produce waste of much lower radioactivity and a much faster decay.
p2299-Hale-nuclear-dumpShe says the meeting was also against the proposed ramping up of Lucas Heights as a producer of nuclear medicine for export.
While the location known as Hale, a date farm on the old Ghan railway line, is impractical and expensive to develop, the principal motivation of the dump’s government planners seems to be avoiding community opposition.
She says this has been the case with Muckaty near Tennant Creek, and Harts Range as well as Mount Everard in the Alice Springs area: They were dropped because of public objections.
Dr Tyler says the best way to stop the latest project is to make a lot of noise.
About 80 people were at last night’s meeting and more meetings will be held.
The proposed facility is also being opposed by Aboriginal people living near the date farm.


  1. I encourage people to get involved. These decisions will effect all future generations. Every tonne of nuclear waste is a curse on all future generations.
    We have a moral and ethical responsibility not to espouse nuclear. There are only three deep waste dumps in the world today that have held nuclear waste, they have all leaked. There are inherent dangers with handling waste.
    * Mayak Chemical Combine 400,000 people contaminated for more than 2 decades without knowing;
    * Chernobyl, 1,000,000+ contaminated people displaced, dead or disabled;
    * Pripyat, 700,000 conscripted to clean up 24,000 dead and 70,000 disabled;
    * Beatty, fire in nuclear waste dump underground explosions with 140 miles of road blocked off with radioactive particles released into enviroment;
    * Carlsbad WIPP, another fire, more dead in nuclear waste storage;
    * Fufushima, 1,000+ peda becquerels released into the enviroment, contaminated deaths suppressed.
    * Pacific Ocean, north of the equator million upon millions of deaths in sea life reports of the pacific will soon be void of life.
    To embrace nuclear waste will prostituting Australia and we will be the pimps.
    Plutonium fuel rods are covered with zirconium alloy (zircaloy) this product will self ignite in five hours contact with air. For 100 tonne of fuel rods to burn is equal to 2,000 Hiroshimas or five Chernobyls.
    FOOD: Japan’s safe standard for food is less than 100 Becquerels/kilo, our standard is up to 1200Bq/Kg 12 x worst. This means 1 liter of water = 1 kilo with 1200 radioactive particles disintegrating every second second second second.
    The Department of Agriculture stopped testing radioactive food coming to Australia on the 23rd of January 2014. The Japanese people are now growing food again nine kilometers from ground zero at Daiichi Fukushima, and selling to England; Canada; USA; New Zealand and Australia.
    China, Taiwan and Korea refuse Japanese food into their countries. It is erroneous to believe there is any gain by accepting waste. We are only taking a costly gamble with our children’s future and generations to come when there is no turning back.

  2. Eight of the top ten most radioactive sites in the world are sites where nuclear waste has been stored, abandoned or dumped. To live in any one of these places would mean a cursed life.

  3. Not saying it should go to the Arid Gold farm, but it does need to go somewhere.
    Even if future new technologies produce less dangerous isotopes, medical and other nuclear waste exists now and the long term storage needs to be sorted.
    Yes, perhaps there is no rush, but neither is the issue going to go away.

  4. The French government classifies the waste recently returned to Australia as high level.
    Our government calls it intermediate but our government doesn’t classify anything as worse than intermediate.
    So what they are saying is this dump can be used for the most insidious and toxic material on the planet and that’s OK if we just say its intermediate.
    So clearly guided by science and best practice, what could go wrong?

  5. Where are the Aboriginal people in the audience? It’s their land but they need non Aboriginal people to take the fight up!

  6. I can see a Traditional Owner present at the meeting. Most Aboriginal people are on country and communities. We support the traditional owners in opposing the waste dump. Leave the Uranium in the ground!

  7. If you oppose the storage of low level and intermediate waste then please don’t be hypocritical enough to allow your child to be sent to a southern hospital for radiation treatment if he or she is diagnosed with a cancer.
    Mine was and I desperately welcomed any chance to save his life. It didn’t work but by God we hoped it would.
    We owe southerners a great deal. We, each of us, cost the Australian tax payer significantly more than any other Australians per capita.
    Because of our isolation there’s an awful lot we can’t do for ourselves. We are happy to accept the processes that produce radioactive waste when we think it may save our own lives or those of our children.
    When it comes to storing this waste our isolation and geological stability are a significant advantage. We owe it to the rest of the country to do our bit.
    I asked an earnest young woman who had just stepped of a bus full of very oddly dressed and coiffed southerners who’d come to us to protest about the Muckatty proposal a simple question: “What do we do with the waste we have from medical procedures?” Her answer was as you’d expect: “You just can’t trust our democratically elected representatives and our leaders of industry to be telling the truth they will start bringing in much more dangerous waste as soon as they get the chance.”
    The corollary was that you can trust a bus load of southern, dreadlocked red guards all under the age of 30 with the fanatical zeal of an Iraqi Jihadi or a dedicated Scientologist to be telling the truth. I know where I put my money.
    It’s already out of the ground and some of it is being used to save our kids’ lives. Let’s do our bit for a change but let’s be very careful about how we do it.

  8. @ Dave Price: This nuclear dump of low level and intermediate waste residue from nuclear medicines used to diagnose a wide range of illnesses including cardiac conditions, cancers and skeletal injuries, is not really the main concern from communities.
    As of 2014 Australia has accumulated approximately 4250 m3 of low level radioactive waste from over 40 years of research, medical and industrial uses of radioactive materials.
    The Commonwealth is responsible for about 4048 m3 of this waste and the states and territories hold the rest (around 200 m3).
    The main concern is the international nuclear wastes facilities in the pipeline, this international dump that our government keeps quiet.
    Plans for Australia to become world’s nuclear waste dump :,3343
    If we have to have one, why not at Maralinga?

  9. Dave Price. With due respect to your personal story this is absolutely not about anyone trying to deny average Australians from life saving technologies.
    You are certainly entitled to have what ever opinion you see fit, but continuing with the tired “kick the southern activists” argumentative approach on this topic doesn’t really achieve much.
    It might win you a few fans perhaps but it won’t really contribute much to a national discussion we as Alice Springs residents would do well to take seriously.
    Yes we all know where you’ve put your money, but for you to so readily dismiss the importance of the thin-end-of-the-wedge considerations relative to nuclear waste is doing a disservice to the broader community ready to learn and participate in this debate.
    You have political nous and often make decent contributions to this forum. Why not take a breather and try again?
    This needs to be a sensible time for national debate about how we take responsibility for the decisions we made in the past – and how to manage the legacies of this industry into the future.

  10. @ Evelyne Roullet, Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm:
    I have read just today that enshrined in the enabling legislation covering the proposed national nuclear waste facility is a clause prohibiting the storage of any but Australian waste.
    So I returned to your comment and re-read your link. That article speaks of the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2005 and subsequent amendments (2006). It also cites something called the ANSTO Bill passed around the same time. The implication in the article is that acceptance of other countries nuclear waste would be allowed.
    It’s now a decade later, the controversy is heating up again and neither John Howard nor Alexander Downer are anywhere in sight. As stated above, I have today read an article that seems to contradict the conclusions drawn in your link. So I wonder if you could enlighten us as to which of the two is correct.

  11. Whats wrong with the couple of hundred mined out tunnels at Olympic Dam? After all that’s where a lot of it came from. Or is that too much common sense?

  12. @ Hal et al: The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 was developed under the ALP’s Minister Martin Ferguson, which gave wide reaching powers to acquire land and override all state and territory laws see Section 12 and 20.
    The recent comments by PM Turnbull reported in the Guardian from an interview in Adelaide are what is informing people’s concerns about an international waste dump…
    “As Brett, the chef, was saying, and I think a lot of South Australians feel like this and it’s a perfectly reasonable view: we’ve got the uranium [and] we mine it; why don’t we process it, turn it into the fuel rods, lease them to people overseas; when they’re done, bring them back – and we’ve got very stable geology in remote locations and a stable political environment – and store them?
    “That is a business that you could well imagine here.”
    This also timed with the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle in South Australia which indicates that again the nuclear lobby is looking to launch another offensive to lock our economy into a radioactive future.
    We need a place to safely store these materials for thousands of generations … the process in nominating a site is not in the national interest as it is driven by self interest.
    Self interest by those nominating the sites and self interest for ANSTO who wants to continue developing radioactive isotopes for medicine and research. However, the key to all of this is not the medical waste that is trumpeted out by the proponents of this project but the intermediate level waste that includes reprocessed fuel rods among other dangerous goods.
    The nuclear age has passed, as we now enter the renewables plus storage age. Given the challenges of climate change, we need to adapt our energy systems. The old grid pushing out electrons with expensive poles and wires will be superseded in coming decades.
    Creating dangerous products and waste as we are seeing with fossil fuels can no longer be tolerated. The trade offs that we now need to be looking at is trading out vested interests and trading in distributed, local energy systems that don’t have any longterm drawbacks.
    Nuclear medicines can be made with cyclotrons and don’t need reactors that create dangerous waste.
    If we’re talking about establishing a long-term nuclear waste repository – then let’s talk about shutting down the reactor and transitioning towards a renewable energy future.

  13. @ Hal Duell: “I have read just today that enshrined in the enabling legislation covering the proposed national nuclear waste facility is a clause prohibiting the storage of any but Australian waste.”
    I found your statement very interesting, but I cannot find the source. Could you please guide me to it?
    A paragraph from an ARIUS document: “The Australian Government is pursuing two goals: building the National Low-Level Waste Repository for Australian low level radioactive waste (LLW) and identifying a suitable location for a National Store for intermediate-level waste (ILW) created in Australia.
    “A separate objective, promoted earlier by Pangea Resources and more recently by various individuals, is to study the feasibility of siting an international repository for high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel (HLW/SF) in Australia.”
    It is not because Pangea project is no more that it will not be replaced by another one
    ARIUS Association for international underground storage.
    Now if we have the dump in the NT, how will the wastes be delivered? There is prohibition against importation or transportation of nuclear waste for delivery to nuclear waste storage facility in the South and Western Acts.

  14. @ Jimmy Cocking: Thank you for the link. But I believe we debating for nothing, as the “for: and the anti will never agree.” I hope I will not see the day, view my advance age, where we will say: “We told you so.”

  15. @ Evelyne Roullet, Posted December 16, 2015 at 5:44pm: My source is our very own local newspaper, whose name must not be mentioned on this site. Tuesday’s edition, and where they got their information from is not included.
    Smoke and mirrors abound to be sure, but I feel a single waste site is coming either here or there. I also feel the primary goal of all concerned should not be to stop the site no matter what, but to ensure that only waste from Australia is stored there.
    And why not Maralinga? What aren’t we being told about that contaminated site?
    [ED – Hi Hal, you’re welcome to mention the Centralian Advocate.]

  16. @ Hal Duell: Thank you for this excellent constructive post. The Centralian Advocate is not our own, and I do not trust their information having experienced first hand how they do the news. It is a biased newspaper and do not often quotes its sources “to ensure that only waste from Australia is stored there”.
    How will we do this? Were we told about the The BBC Shanghai? a cargo ship, unwanted in Indonesian waters?
    I found those fact not by The Centralian Advocate (ah! ah!) but by reading international media

  17. @ Evelyne Roullet, Posted December 17, 2015 at 9:03am: I agree that the Centralian Advocate is not “our own”, but rather another pony in Rupert’s stable. I merely used the term to indicate where I found my quote. And I read it in spite of its owner because it does speak of local issues.
    The same article asserts that Lucas Heights only has space and funding until 2023. True? Maybe.
    I too followed the progress of the cargo ship bringing waste from France to Sydney. The objections and protests didn’t seem to accomplish much. The ship docked in Sydney, and the waste is now in Lucas Heights, or so we are told.
    Where to from there is the pertinent question. I still think the momentum to a single site is well advanced, and exactly where it will go will be announced directly. Subject to an environment impact statement and an iron-clad guarantee that only Australian waste will ever be stored there, I can see no compelling reason not to choose the site on the Old South Road. Not-in-my-backyard doesn’t quite cut it with me.
    Of course Maralinga is the most sensible destination, or at least it is to my mind. And I do wonder what we are not being told about the current state of that site and/or what plans are afoot for its future use.

  18. Food for thought: Sydney’s Lucas Heights reactor is set to ramp up nuclear medicine production to meet world demand. Therefore creating more waste.
    Lucas Heights, New South Wales, produced patient nuclear medicine. The nation’s only nuclear reactor currently produces 10,000 doses a day for 250 hospitals around the country.
    Construction is underway on a new production plant which ANSTO estimated could lift production capacity of nuclear medicine to up to 13 million doses a year.
    Unless with have a population growth spiralling or we all become cancer patients, why the need for increasing the doses if not for monetary gain?
    ANSTO has increasing domestic and global demand for our nuclear medicines, therefore needs to increase capacity to safely manage associated by-products, need to prepare for the availability of national waste facility.

  19. @ Greg Waldon, well said. Evelyn and Hal, you both need to go out and see the proposed site. It is the most unsuitable place. I went for a drive today and saw it for myself.
    It is 75km from Alice Springs, right next door to the date farm and 7km from the nearest station house.
    It is also in a water catchment area and the roads are not suitable for trucks. The costings to upgrade this area and roads, will be far greater than the proposed $10m. Also if we have a nuc1ear leak no matter how small, our hospital and emergency services are not equipped.
    The disadvantage of this site is that it also sits on four major water bores, of which there could a high risk of water contamination, to our underground water which is so precious in this area. Also the farmer next door is trying to sell organic beef. Will you buy it knowing that they are next to a nuclear dump?
    I agree that there needs to be a site for the waste but the most suitable and appropriate place is Woomera, as it has no underground water, already has the bitumen roads, housing and the storage capabilities already at hand.

  20. @ Fred the Philistine, Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:49 am: I can’t agree with Woomera, but no question that the nearby Maralinga would be the optimum site. Trouble is, Maralinga is not an option. And while Woomera is currently being used for some temporary storage, it’s not an option either.
    I suppose either Queensland or NSW could be picked, but with so many more people over on that side, the protests will be correspondingly bigger. Political headaches!
    The three sites in SA all look fairly remote on the map, and the local Federal Member, Rowan Ramsey, sounds like he is fully onside. SA looks to have the inside running on this.
    If, and I grant it’s a big if, the waste to be stored is to be kept to Australian waste, then we’re not looking at the really nasty stuff. And with Lucas Heights set to increase production of medical products, then we do need a national site.
    And what makes you think I haven’t been down to the area on the Old South Road?

  21. There is a royal commission in progress to reverse the decision as to why Woomera cannot be the optimum site.
    The reason as to why this site cannot be currently used is because Labor stopped the Liberals from allowing the use of the site.
    The royal commission decision is to be released in May 2016. Korea and Tiawan want to bring their waste over for storage. This is going to bring millions into SA.
    Woomera is the most logical place. Also remember that the proposed site down the old South road, is right next to the Finke desert race track. This will need to be moved. SA are willing to take on the nuke dump, but need to wait for the Royal commission decision.


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