20 August: A new report into the claimed economic benefits to regional communities of the Federal Government nuclear waste facility has found the government has exaggerated the benefits, and not properly factored in insurance costs and other risks.
â€œThis whole process has been poorly conducted and horribly divisive from day one,â€ said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of Conservation SA.
â€œKnowing how reluctant many people in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges are to having a nuclear waste dump in their backyard, the Federal Government has greatly over-sold the economic benefits to try and buy community support.
â€œThis report is a reality check for a community sick of the spin from the Federal Government,â€ he said.
Conservation SA commissioned economic think tank The Australia Institute to examine more closely Federal Governmentâ€™s claims of an economic windfall for the affected communities.
The Down in the Dumps report compared the current Australian National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) plans with similar facilities overseas, and found a raft of exaggerated jobs and economic return claims.Â For example, a proposed facility in Canada which is more than one hundred times larger with more functions and features, will cost only half as much to construct and operate.
As the reportâ€™s author, Dr Cameron Murray, states: â€˜Either the waste facility is orders of magnitude larger than need for Australiaâ€™s nuclear waste, or the government has exaggerated the economic returns to the local community of the NRWMF facilityâ€™.
It also questioned the true value of the promised $31 million in local grants and infrastructure promises, as some of this appears to be double-counting, re-labelling of other programs or matched by cuts to other funding streams.
Adjusting the economic impact assessment to account for the exaggerated claims reduces the number of net full time jobs down to just 6.
â€œAt the end of the day, the case for shifting waste across from Sydney to South Australia simply doesnâ€™t stack up,â€ said Mr Wilkins.
â€œWhy is the Federal Government pushing so hard to move Australiaâ€™s highest risk radioactive waste from Lucas Heights where it is safely and securely stored, to park it in SA in temporary sheds while they work out what to do with it?
â€œWouldnâ€™t it be better to work out the final disposal plan first, including the true cost and benefit to the local community, and then move it once when everything is sorted?
â€œDouble handling is incredibly wasteful, is not international best practice, and makes no sense in terms of public health or radiation safety.
â€œIt is time for the Federal Government to apologise, walk away and put in place a credible pathway for a long term, permanent solution to nuclear waste stored at Lucas Heights,â€ he said.
The full report can be found here.