Nuclear waste dump opposition heats up

A nuclear expert says the claims that a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory is needed to house low level radioactive waste from hospitals is ‘nonsense.


The federal government is likely to pass a bill in the Senate which would could allow a nuclear waste dump to be built on Aboriginal land near Muckaty Station.

SBS Living Black travelled to the region last month, finding staunch opposition amongst communities near the dump.

The land was nominated by people from the Ngapa clan, represented by the Northern Land Council, in exchange for millions of dollars in federal funding for the area; most of which will not arrive until a future date. A Senate committee heard that a portion of the money that has already exchanged hands was spread amongst various groups in the area.

Dr Peter Karamoskos was speaking ahead of debate on the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill.

‘The claim that a waste facility is required to support nuclear medicine is mischievous scare-mongering’, Dr Karamoskos told AAP.

The government says a waste dump is needed for waste from nuclear medicines as well as research material from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney.

Dr Kasamoskos said most radioactive isotopes generated from nuclear medicine were designated as ‘very low level’ waste, which decayed to safe levels with in a few days to a few weeks.

He told AAP it was also ‘absolute nonsense’ to suggest equipment used during nuclear work in hospitals would require housing at the Muckaty dump.

Yet Labor Senator Trish Crossin, for the NT, told SBS the government needed to ‘step up’, as nuclear rods were set to return from overseas.

Groups who say they have incorrectly not been recognised as Traditional Owners by the NLC say the land is sacred to them and their dreamings; they say a male initiation site sits on the proposed land.

They have now taken the Darwin-based council to a federal court in Melbourne, in their bid to be recognised and block the plans.

The NLC has denied that the recent death of the woman who nominated the site will affect proceedings, set to resume in the coming months.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told SBS that regardless of what happens in the Senate, he will respect the findings of the court as regards ownership.

You can also watch the video here.