By KIERAN FINNANE
Nothing should be read into a meeting to progress the next phase of finding a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, held with the Alice Springs Town Council on 9 March, two days before the initial 120-day consultation period closed.
A site 75 kms south of Alice Springs, the Aridgold Date Farm in Hale (above, image courtesy Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), is one of six sites being considered for the facility. There are three others in South Australia and one each in Queesland and New South Wales.
A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science says that councils and community groups at all of the nominated sites were visited again at this time and no decisions have yet been taken on which of the sites, if any, will be taken forward.
Alice Springs News Online put the question to the department after Councillor Jade Kudrenko drew attention to the meeting, which she considered to be “highly inappropriate”.
She said council was being asked by the department to work with them “to start identifying community members to be part of the community reference group” to take the process forward.
She declined to attend: “I didn’t understand why we would be discussing the next phase when the first phase was incomplete, pre-empting a decision that we would be one of the three nominated sites moving forward before they had finished listening to people.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s very bad process.”
Whatever the case, it applied to all the communities around the six nominated sites: each area was visited by a team from the department between 2 and 10 March.
The Town Council has reiterated its opposition to the imposition (emphasis added) of any radioactive waste management on the NT, forwarding as its formal submission to the department a 2005 letter responding to an earlier and different process. However, as the Australian Government has since vowed that the site will not be imposed on an unwilling community, the council can be deemed to not have a relevant position on the current proposal.
By KIERAN FINNANE