No nuclear waste dump site nominated
A very productive Central Land Council meeting at Alpurrurulam (Lake Nash) has concluded without the nomination of a site for a nuclear waste management facility.
On 5 November 85 CLC delegates considered the outcomes of the CLC’s consultations with the traditional owners of an area in the Tanami region and with affected communities about a proposed site for such a facility.
The delegates heard that the CLC has received formal correspondence and public statements from the traditional owners and residents of affected communities who are opposed to a nuclear waste dump in the area.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s requirement of a site “free from dispute” cannot therefore be met. The delegates did not instruct the CLC to consult further on the matter.
On 11 September the CLC facilitated a meeting with traditional owners from the Tanami region, neighbouring land owners and government representatives at the Tanami Mine, 340 kilometers north west of Yuendumu.
At the meeting traditional owners expressed their dissatisfaction with the federal government's nomination process for a proposed nuclear waste management facility and with the lack of detailed information, for example about the transport of the waste and the government’s compensation offer.
During subsequent public consultations including government representatives in Lajamanu, one of the affected communities, residents and traditional owners of the proposed site expressed strong opposition against a nuclear waste facility in the Tanami.
The process enshrined in the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 expects traditional owners to volunteer a site without knowing all the information.
"Yet once a site is nominated they cannot change their mind when they find out the full story", said CLC director David Ross. "Given that a nuclear waste dump is forever it's just not fair to ask people to make this decision without a comprehensive proposal."
"We have told the government since 2005 that its process and the legislation were incompatible with the principle of prior informed consent. No one does business on this basis", he said.
In August the CLC received a request for information from a group of traditional owners who had been contacted by the Chief Minister’s office regarding nominating a site on their country.
The CLC has a legal duty to consult with the wider traditional owner group about any proposal for the use of their land, ensure they fully understand the nature and effect of any proposal and obtain their informed consent before any proposal can go ahead.
It must also consult with communities or groups affected by a proposal and give them an opportunity to express their views.
7 November 2014