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Australian Aborigines move to block shipments of Scottish nuclear waste via The Herald

ABORIGINES in South Australia are fighting a plan to ship nuclear waste from Scotland amid fears it will be dumped on land regarded as culturally and spiritually sacred.

Wallerberdina, around 280 miles north of Adelaide, has been earmarked as a possible location for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump despite claims that it is a priceless heritage site rich in archaeological treasures including burial mounds, fossilised bones and stone tools.

Some have claimed the impact would be similar to “building a waste dump at the heart of the Vatican”.

[…]

The waste transfer is part of a deal with saw spent fuel from nuclear reactors in Australia, Belgium, Germany and Italy processed at Dounreay – the nuclear facility in Caithness currently being decommissioned – to enable it to be safely stored after being returned to its country of origin.

The UK government has previously confirmed that “a very small quantity of Australian-owned radioactive waste” is currently stored in the country.

Scottish Government policy allows for the substitution of nuclear waste with a “radiologically equivalent” amount of materials from Sellafield in Cumbria.

The Herald understands that a shipment of such material is due to take place by 2020.

[…]

She has previously suggested the waste dump was “like me and my sisters going to the Vatican and saying we want to put a waste dump right under the pillar where they say St Peter is buried.”

Friends of the Earth Australia say they share concerns that the material due to be transferred could end up being stored in a facility at Wallerberdina against the wishes of local indigenous people. They encouraged those involved “to acknowledge that it is highly problematic that there is a real likelihood of the waste being foisted on an Aboriginal community that wants nothing to do with it.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise that the management of nuclear waste must take full account of human rights and equality obligations. That includes the importance of ensuring that security and waste management arrangements protect public safety and avoid harmful environmental impacts.

“Any concerns expressed by indigenous peoples must be addressed in full and action taken, to ensure that vulnerable communities do not suffer future adverse impacts.”

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