South Australia is a diverse and vibrant place to live with green and growing industries, strong communities and unique landscapes. The federal government wants to build a radioactive waste dump in SA. Some of this nuclear waste is toxic for hundreds of years and some for thousands of years. It all poses risks to the environment, to the nearby communities and to many thousands of people along transport routes.
There are currently three sites undergoing assessment in South Australia. One is at Wallerberdina Station near Hawker in the iconic Flinders Ranges and the other two sites on farming land near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.
Many in the Kimba and Flinders Ranges regions are saying NO and are calling for support. Many locals don't want industries such as tourism and farming threatened. Many Traditional Owners do not want cultural heritage sites put at risk and across South Australia people do not want their state turned into a radioactive dump. The issue continues to cause division and stress in the affected communities.
Radioactive waste earmarked for the federal facility is classified as either low-level waste or long-lived intermediate-level waste. Measured by radioactivity (rather than volume) almost all of the waste comes from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in southern Sydney. Measured by volume Lucas Heights accounts for almost half the waste, lightly contaminated soil stored at Woomera in SA accounts for about half and very small volumes are stored at various scientific, medical and defence sites around Australia. The long-lived intermediate waste includes reprocessed nuclear fuel rods from Lucas Heights and is a serious threat – remaining toxic for thousands of years. Measured by radioactivity, this material accounts for the majority of the nuclear waste in Australia.
The low-level and short-lived intermediate level radioactive wastes are destined for shallow burial or to be capped with material. The long-lived intermediate level waste would be stored above ground as an 'interim' measure until some future government may establish a deep underground geological disposal facility. No federal government has made any progress finding a site for disposal of the long-lived intermediate-level waste so 'interim' storage may last for decades and possibly centuries. Indeed the federal nuclear regulator ARPANSA explicitly states that an above-ground 'interim' store for long-lived intermediate level waste "may be operational for more than a century".