CLC to consult on proposed nuclear waste dump
The Central Land Council is convening an initial meeting for traditional owners on 11 September 2014 at the closed Tanami Mine site North West of Yuendumu to find out about a proposed national nuclear waste management facility.
“In August the CLC received an expression of interest from a group of traditional owners in the Tanami Desert who said they had been contacted by the NT government”, said CLC director David Ross. “They told us they want to know more about the commonwealth’s proposal, its benefits and risks”.
At the meeting the Department of Industry and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation will present details about the proposal. An independent expert on radiation health will also be present to answer traditional owners’ questions.
These initial consultations will be followed by community meetings in Balgo, Lajamanu and Yuendumu in the week starting 22 September.
“They are not the only communities that may be affected by the proposed facility. We will hold further meetings if traditional owners are interested in progressing the proposal”, said Mr Ross.
He said the CLC received the expression of interest from traditional owners after the Minister for Industry, Ian McFarlane, told NT land councils they had until 30 September 2014 to nominate a potential site.
“He wrote that a nominated site must have the consent of traditional owners and must not be disputed by other affected Aboriginal groups or communities”, Mr Ross said.
The minister yesterday announced his intention to declare a nationwide general process for nominating a site for the proposed facility.
By law the CLC must consult with the wider traditional owner group about any proposal for the use of their land, ensure they understand the nature and effect of any proposal and obtain their informed consent before any proposal can go ahead.
It must also consult with affected communities or groups and give them an opportunity to express their views.
“We take our job very seriously and have decades of experience with these consultation processes”, said Mr Ross.
“We are keenly aware of the controversy associated with the withdrawn Muckaty nomination, which the minister called a disaster. We are doing our utmost to make sure that our process is clear, thorough and transparent”, he said.
The CLC’s governing body of 90 traditional owners will consider the outcome of the consultations at its next meeting in November.
Only the Council can nominate a site, based on consultation outcomes, and particularly the clear informed consent of traditional owners.
9 September 2014