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Issue #1732      May 25, 2016

Adnyamathanha disgust at nuclear waste dump move

Adnyamathanha people are angry about a likely low level nuclear waste dump near South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, saying they don’t want the outback poisoned again. Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg has picked a cattle station near Barndioota, 40 kilometres north of Port Augusta, as the preferred site to store medical and laboratory waste currently held in Sydney.

The land, co-owned by former Liberal senator Grant Chapman, has been selected ahead of five other voluntarily nominated sites, including two others in SA and others in the Northern Territory.

Adnyamathanha Tribal Lands Association (ATLA) chief executive Vince Coulthard said he was “totally disgusted” by the decision. “This is our land, we have been here forever and we will always be here, and we are totally opposed to this dump,” he said.

“ATLA is the main ‘key stakeholder’, yet they have shown us no respect. This is in our sacred country with a very important spring just nearby. This is another example of cultural genocide. This cannot happen.”

Adnyamathanha woman Regina McKenzie, who lives next to the property, says the dump would desecrate Dreamtime stories. “Storylines go through the area. There’s also a massive archaeological site. It’s also an ancient trading route,” she said.

“This is a place where we took our children to learn to swim, where we went with my father. This is our place of learning, where we still hunt and gather bush tucker.”

Australian Nuclear Free Alliance co-chair and Kokatha-Mula Elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine said it’s devastating that the gvernment would put nuclear waste on anyone’s country.

“We’ve already been poisoned through the Maralinga bomb tests,” she said.

“Do we really need any more nuclear, whether it’s low level or not? There’s always the chance of accidents.

“I feel really sorry for the (Aboriginal) people who have to go through this and the other people who have to live under a nuclear cloud.”

Frydenberg played down the impact of the low-level waste to nearby communities, saying it was “gloves, goggles and test tubes” that came in contact with nuclear medicine.

“The whole purpose of building a single repository is to make it safer and make it a long-term solution,” he said. SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has also raised concerns about the selection process.

A final decision won’t be made until safety, environmental and Indigenous heritage assessments have been completed, and that could take a year.

But Koutsantonis said the selection of a former Liberal politician’s land raised eyebrows.

“I’m not really a big fan of self-selection. I think it raises some serious questions,” he said. “I’d much rather scientists and independent regulators choose a site rather than politicians.”

Koori Mail

Next article – Royal Commission 25 years on – More deaths, despite report

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