Bright New World: Submission for the national radioactive waste management facility at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia

Bright New World has made submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics, which is looking into the appropriateness of the site selection process to date for a low and intermediate level radioactive waste facility for Australia.

The submission will be public via that site, and can be viewed in full here.

I encourage all Bright New World members, supporters and readers to make a short submission. Our submission about can be used as a guide. 

Here is the introduction.

Dear Committee Secretariat,

I was a member of the Independent Assessment Panel[1] that, through 2015 and into 2016, assisted the Commonwealth Department of Industry with (i) the process of seeking nominations of land for this facility; (ii) establishing assessment criteria for shortlisting; (iii) weighting assessment criteria for shortlisting; and (iv) the process of announcements of listed sites[2].

As stipulated in the remit of the Independent Assessment Panel, we were retained as a source of guidance to the Department with an expectation of serving the process in good faith. Decisions ultimately rested with the Department and the relevant Minister. I was not a co-chair of the Independent Assessment Panel and am not entitled to speak for the panel. Where I make general comment or observation about the work of the panel and the experience, these are my comments and observations. Other members of the panel may offer different views. My overall view is that the current site selection process represents among some of the best practice in the world for such a challenge, and it should be supported and continued.

I am now the executive director of Bright New World, an environmental NGO that seeks greater harmony between human development and the conservation, protection and restoration of our natural world. In relation to Australia’s nuclear medical and research sector, Bright New World is strongly supportive of its continued operation and preferably expansion. Nuclear non-proliferation experts have stated[3]

… nuclear technologies and techniques are demonstrably valuable for improving human well-being, especially in fighting disease, helping to grow food, addressing food security and safety, and managing safe water and other natural resources. In health care, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy will continue to be important in providing earlier, more accurate diagnoses and safer, more effective treatments. In food security and safety, nuclear techniques have also contributed significantly in integrating pre- and post-harvest pest-control measures such as food irradiation and area-wide application of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to protect crops and livestock from pests. Techniques for diagnosing trans- boundary animal diseases will be increasingly important for early and rapid detection in both the laboratory and the field. And nuclear techniques have a significant role to play in hydrology, important as the growing scarcity of water resources and the dramatic lack of sustainable access to water and sanitation in developing countries become major impediments to sustainable development, wealth creation and the eradication of poverty.

In this context, Bright New World regards the task of Australia moving towards sustainable, best-practice management of radioactive waste from research and medicine to be a tangible contribution to improving human well-being though beneficial science and technology. I am pleased to offer the committee my perspectives in response to the Terms of Reference.

 

Ben Heard (Ph.D., MCESM)

Executive Director – Bright New World

Ben Heard3 Comments