Letter: Setting the record straight

Setting the record straight

I write in response to “Welcome to the nation’s nuclear state”.

I provide the following in response to Mr Ashton’s questions and statements to set the record straight and ensure community members can make a properly informed decision when they vote on whether this is the right type of industry for their area.

The community has always been at the centre of the process. We have consistently acknowledged there are a range of opinions on this decision.

At all times, we have encouraged respectful behaviour and robust debate, and in doing this, we have supported the process with the science and facts provided by many individuals and organisations who have recognised expertise in these areas. This will be a safe, job-creating national facility.

As the community is well aware by now, the facility will only be built on land that is volunteered, technically suitable, and near a community that broadly supports it being there.

The facility will be the permanent home of Australian low level waste. Intermediate level waste will only be stored temporarily. Australia does not have enough intermediate level waste to warrant a vitrification facility for radioactive waste which will be done overseas in specialised facilities.

The facility will store intermediate level waste for a few decades, until a separate underground facility is established in a different location for permanent disposal. As we have said previously, a separate process will identify a different site at a different location for the permanent disposal of intermediate level waste. This is in line with international best practice and it is a requirement of the regulator.

It is not the case, as Mr Ashton suggested, that the extra jobs have been generated by intermediate-level waste only. The Facility will create diverse jobs, not limited to packaging intermediate level waste. 

We anticipate the majority of the 45 jobs the facility will create will cover areas such as waste management, administration, tourism and environmental monitoring.

These jobs, supported by an estimated combined $4.7 million in wages, are not limited to packaging and handling intermediate level waste.

Events at Lucas Heights have been widely communicated to the public. While is not my place to comment on ANSTO matters and the incidents that have occurred since November at Lucas Heights, I will note that all incidents have been highly and openly publicised.

Community members can refer to ANSTO’s website for information, www.ansto.gov.au.

Australia’s radioactive waste will be managed safely and securely.

We have continuously and transparently provided the facts to the community, to inform their ultimate decision as to whether the Facility should go ahead in their area.

Bruce Wilson, principal advisor, National Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce