Adnyamathanha to fight nuclear dump plan

PROTEST: Regina McKenzie, Geraldine Anderson, Veronica Coulthard, Enice Marsh, Leslie Coulthard, Robert Wilton, (front) Linda Coulthard and Vera Austin speak out against proposed nuclear waste sites on traditional lands in 2015.
PROTEST: Regina McKenzie, Geraldine Anderson, Veronica Coulthard, Enice Marsh, Leslie Coulthard, Robert Wilton, (front) Linda Coulthard and Vera Austin speak out against proposed nuclear waste sites on traditional lands in 2015.

ADNYAMATHANHA traditional owners are vowing to fight the federal government’s plans to house a nuclear waste facility at Wallerberdina Station near Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges.

The call comes as the site was shortlisted by the federal government as the possible location of Australia’s first facility of its kind on Friday morning. 

Last November, the federal government shortlisted six voluntarily nominated sites for community consultation, with three in South Australia, and one each in New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. 

The site near Hawker has been earmarked as the government’s preferred location.

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie, who lives at Yappala Station near the proposed dump site said the Adnyamathanha were not consulted about the nomination. 

“Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren't consulted,” Ms McKenzie said.

“The proposed dump site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area. On the land with the proposed dump site, we have been working for many years to register heritage sites with the SA government.”

Ms McKenzie said the Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land) holds special significance to her people and the proposed dump site features countless thousands of Aboriginal artifacts. 

“Our ancestors are buried there,” Ms McKenzie said. 

“The nominated site is a significant women’s site. Throughout the area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our people.”

“We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future. We call on all South Australians − all Australians − to support us in our struggle.

“Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners and Viliwarinha Yura Aboriginal Corporation will fight the proposal for a nuclear waste dump on our land for as long as it takes to stop it.”

Member for Grey MP Rowan Ramsey said the Hawker community would benefit if Barndioota became the site of the low and intermediate nuclear waste repository. 

“The open mindedness of the Hawker community on this issue is to be admired and I am very pleased a community in my electorate stands to benefit substantially from this investment. 

“The Hawker residents I have spoken to are over the moon.

Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said his department will now establish an office in the area near Barndioota. 

“While encouraging levels of support were identified across a number of these sites, Barndioota displayed a broad level of community support for moving to the project’s next phase,” Mr Frydenberg said. 

​“As part of this next phase, an independent Indigenous heritage assessment will also be undertaken in consultation with traditional owners to identify the full extent of heritage at the site and ensure it is protected. 

“The government will also work with local Indigenous stakeholders to explore local eco-tourism opportunities.

“In recognition of any short term disruption that this detailed assessment may involve, the Barndioota community will also be provided with up to $2 million for local projects that create lasting economic or social benefits,” he said. 

Mr Frydenberg stressed the federal government’s decision was not final.