A pioneer of Australia’s anti-nuclear movement has described the final report from South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission as a “snow job”.
The report says plans for a high- to intermediate-level waste dump should be actively pursued, if the public wants it.
The report by commissioner Kevin Scarce was handed to the SA Government at the end of last week and made 12 recommendations.
They include pursuing a waste dump, simplifying mining approvals processes and seeking a relaxation of federal restrictions on nuclear power generation in Australia.
Tentative findings released in February recommended the creation of a high-level waste nuclear dump that would store 138,000 tonnes of spent fuel from around the world, as well as a separate “above-ground interim storage facility”.
Doctor Helen Caldicott is a paediatrician who also helped found the organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Her anti-nuclear work stretches back decades and includes playing a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific.
Dr Caldicott said in relation to the waste dump, no technology exists to safely store nuclear waste in the long term.
“It’s [the royal commission report] exactly as I expected. It’s really been a snow job, if you like,” she said.
“Paid for by the State Government, to the tune of millions of dollars, to set up a high level nuclear waste dump in SA for much of the world’s radioactive waste.”
SA’s agriculture reputation ‘will be totally destroyed’
Dr Caldicott said the state’s record as a centre of fine produce would be ruined by establishing a nuclear waste facility.
“SA has a great reputation for agriculture and I travel a lot overseas, particularly in the US,” she said.
“That extraordinary reputation will be totally destroyed and it will impact upon the agricultural facilities of SA it all seems quite absurd.”
South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill has said he planned to consult the community widely about setting up any dump and urged the public to “keep an open mind”.
South Australian Liberal senator Sean Edwards believes the state could earn billions processing other countries’ nuclear waste and use it to potentially generate free electricity.
He said the commission’s final reports showed a nuclear industry could reshape the state economy by earning it billions of dollars.
“I just urge people to take the time to get to understand what this proposal actually is, but then have a look at the beneficial nature of what we can achieve,” he said.
“This is a very significant revenue opportunity for SA and we need more revenue.”