Residents in a South Australian region that is shortlisted to house a nuclear waste dump say the Commonwealth’s consultation process is driving the community apart.
Two of the six shortlisted sites are in the small farming community of Kimba and some residents are frustrated the New South Wales village of Hill End has seemingly already been ruled out, even though there is still a month to go in the consultation period.
Kimba farmer Peter Woolford said consultation about the proposal is taking its toll.
“The stress that’s there is quite evident and our community is fractured,” he said.
“I mean Kimba is a wonderful place to live and it has great community spirit but at the moment that’s getting ripped apart by this nuclear waste dump.”
He owns land that neighbours one of the proposed sites and leads a local group opposing the proposal.
The Commonwealth’s consultation team has visited the area three times since the shortlist was announced in November, and will be back this month.
“There hasn’t been any real community meetings,” Mr Woolford said.
“They meet with groups, they meet with individuals, so to me it’s a bit of a divisive thing in that regard, that they’re [meeting] separately and in small groups, but that’s what they have to do.
I just hope that they take into account all our lobbying here, that the majority of landowners are totally opposed to it.
“They say they’re trying to get word to everybody and I guess that’s the consultation process, right there.”
Call for debate over ‘legitimate concerns’
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel told Radio National he looks forward to advising the Commonwealth on the process.
“The primary focus, I anticipate, from the report, will be on storage — is there an opportunity for Australia, in particular South Australia, to have a role in a global nuclear fuelled cycle by taking the role of long-term storage?” he said.
That goes well beyond the waste plans currently being discussed by the Government.
Dr Finkel said an open debate about the nuclear industry is required.
“Nuclear, of course, generates a lot of concern, legitimate concern, but it’s very attractive if one has a significant goal to reduce emissions,” he said.