Australia’s Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, has declared that the national nuclear waste storage facility will be at Napandee, near Kimba, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The choice was widely expected as the government had already picked Napandee as its preferred site.
When one hears that a country has picked a Nuclear Waste Disposal Site, the first thought is high-level waste or spent nuclear fuel. But most nuclear waste disposal sites in the world are either for low-level or intermediate-level nuclear waste and many countries have them. Although incredibly safe, they seem to generate as much controversy as the higher-level ones.
The United States, France, Sweden and Finland have actual nuclear waste disposal programs, having spent significant money and time, having full scale underground research laboratories, having broken ground or, in the case of the United States, having permanently disposed of some real nuclear waste below ground.
The issue has split the people in the region. Many want it for economic development, knowing the risks are so low they can’t even be measured, others don’t want it near them and just want it near anyone else. This ironic since a petrol station has more impact on human health and the environment than this waste site ever could.
Some of the native Barngarla people of the region have said they do not want the facility on their land. In a statement, the representative body Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation said it was denied the right to vote on the site.
On the other hand, Minister Pitt said more than 60% of people in the Kimba council area supported the facility in a ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission.