Federal Court quashes Nuclear Dump in Australia - UK campaigners send message to Australian PM to honour this and stop the Australian nuclear waste dump plans once and for all .."Today (18 July), in a history making moment, The Federal Court of Australia through Her Honour Justice Charlesworth, handed down a decision which was favourable to the applicant, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation. This has resulted in the quashing of the decision to place the waste dump site at Napandee near Kimba.
“I am so happy for the women’s sites and dreaming on our country that are not in the firing line of a waste dump. I fought for all this time for my grandparents and for my future generations as well.” ‒ Aunty Dawn Taylor, Barngarla Elder"
UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities have sent a letter on behal of UK local groups fighting nuclear dumping here.
Joint Media Release
UK campaign groups opposed to nuclear waste dumps were ‘delighted’ to hear that their counterparts in Australia, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, have just won their court case against the imposition of a similar dump on their Traditional Lands.
In a historic judgement given earlier this week (18 July), Her Honour Justice Charlesworth in the Federal Court of Australia handed down a decision to quash Federal Government plans to move nuclear waste from the reactor at Lucas Heights to an unwanted waste dump at Napandee near Kimba in South Australia. Justice Charlesworth charged government officials with ‘pre-judgement’ and ‘apprehended bias’.
In March, the UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities joined Radiation Free Lakeland, Millom against the Nuclear Dump / South Copeland against GDF, and Guardians of the East Coast, which are local groups fighting plans to locate a so-called Geological Disposal Facility in either West Cumbria or East Lincolnshire, wrote a joint letter to the Australian Government to raise their international objections to the plan.
Our objections were that there was no need for such a dump as the facility at Lucas Heights has capacity to take the waste and that the rights to the land by the Traditional Owners were being wilfully and shamefully disregarded, contrary to international law, with the government giving no proper consideration to the position of the Barngarla.
The attempt to impose a nuclear waste dump is all par for the course in Australia with the ill-treatment of Indigenous Peoples by corporations, political elites and the military over nuclear matters having an established history, with First Nation territories ravaged by uranium mining or shattered by British atomic weapon testing.
Following the damning judgement, the four British organisations have today written to the Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese asking him to ‘take the honourable and courageous course of action’, withdraw the plan and ‘leave the Barngarla in peace’.
A copy of the letter and a message of solidarity will be sent to the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation.
For more information about this media release, please contact Richard Outram, NFLA Secretary by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile on 07583097793.
Notes to Editors
The letter to the Australian Prime Minister sent today (21 July) reads:
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Prime Minister of Australia Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600
By email to A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au
21 July 2023
Dear Prime Minister,
We are British local authorities opposed to nuclear power and British campaign groups opposed to the imposition of a nuclear waste dump on our own communities in West Cumbria and Lincolnshire in England.
We are writing to you to register our solidarity with, and support, for the Barngarla Indigenous People in their struggle against the dumping of nuclear waste on their Traditional Lands.
In the Federal Court of Australia earlier this week Her Honour Justice Charlesworth made a ruling quashing Federal Government plan to move nuclear waste to indefinite storage and then a waste dump at Napandee near Kimba in South Australia.
We now call upon you as Prime Minister of Australia to revoke these plans and to leave the Barngarla in peace.
In our view:
There is no need for such a waste dump.The current proposal is to move waste generated from the operations of ANSTO (the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) out of safe and secure storage at Lucas Heights, Sydney and transport it almost 1,000 miles to Kimba, South Australia, where it will be placed into indefinite storage above ground on agricultural land within traditional Barngarla Aboriginal land, prior to eventual burial at some unspecified future time in an underground facility Such a proposal will cause unnecessary environmental damage and heighten the risk of the loss of this material in transit (as witnessed in the recent incident involving the loss of a Caesium capsule in Western Australia). It is in any case unnecessary as it is our contention that the level of waste under consideration can be easily retained, accommodated, and managed at the sites at which it was generated, and that management should in any case rest with the Federal authorities which created it in the first place. This view was endorsed by ARPANSA (the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) which identified that Intermediate Level Waste at the ANSTO site at Lucas Heights could continue to be safely and securely stored on site ‘over the next decades’, and that highly hazardous reprocessed nuclear fuel wastes could be retained on site ‘until the availability of a final disposal option’; so there is seemingly neither any need nor any urgency in removing any of this material to any other location.
It is fundamentally undemocratic for the Federal Government to seek to impose this proposal on a community that is manifestly opposed to it.There has been no consideration of the views and rights, including those accepted by convention within the international community, of the Australian First Nations people whose land it is. The Barngarla people in South Australia are clearly unwilling to accommodate such a dump, stand to receive no benefit from it, and are understandably fearful of its irrevocable impact on the use of their traditional lands. Mr Jason Bilney is the chair of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), the body which represents the rights of the Traditional Native Title Owners and traditional custodians of the land. As Native Title Owners, this land is held collectively by the Barngarla and they have rights over it. Unsurprisingly then, Mr Bilney commented that: “It’s very disrespectful, very hurtful to my people as a community and to my past and present Elders” for the government to seek to railroad the Barngarla into hosting such waste. Most shamefully, the Indigenous community was excluded from participation in a community ballot, giving the distinct impression that First Nation Australians remain second class citizens. It appears to an outsider that this proposal is another example of the Federal Government imposing its nuclear activities on the Indigenous peoples of Australia, following on from historical British atomic weapons testing, carried out with the complicity of the Menzies Government, and the ongoing uranium mining, which is carried out by profit-hungry corporations. There appears to have been no consideration of the rights of the Barngarla people under Article 29 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People: Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources And such a proposal appears to fly in direct contravention of Australian Government claims to wish to provide ‘a voice’ to Indigenous peoples in response to one of the aspirations identified in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, with a guaranteed right to consultation over matters impacting on their collective land ownership, traditions, and culture.
We therefore wish to place on record our total opposition to this plan and our total support for the position of the Barngarla people in opposing it.
We call on you as Prime Minister and head of the Federal Government of the Commonwealth of Australia to take the honourable and courageous course of action:
Please withdraw this plan and retain all nuclear wastes at the ANSTO site at Lucas Heights as per the recommendation of ARPANSA.
Thank you for considering our comments. We invite you to send any acknowledgement, immediate comments, or updates by email to the NFLA Secretary Richard Outram at email@example.com
Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Chair, UK/Ireland NFLA Steering Committee
Jan Bridget, Co-Founder, Millom against the Nuclear Dump
Ken Smith, Chair, Guardians of the East Coast
The media release of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation reads:
Barngarla Court Win over Nuclear Dump
Today (18 July), in a history making moment, The Federal Court of Australia through Her Honour Justice Charlesworth, handed down a decision which was favourable to the applicant, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation. This has resulted in the quashing of the decision to place the waste dump site at Napandee near Kimba.
“I am so happy for the women’s sites and dreaming on our country that are not in the firing line of a waste dump. I fought for all this time for my grandparents and for my future generations as well.” ‒ Aunty Dawn Taylor, Barngarla Elder.
“This result today is about truth telling. The Barngarla fought for 21 years for Native Title rights over our lands, including Kimba and we weren’t going to stop fighting for this. We have always opposed a nuclear waste dump on our country and today is a big win for our community and elders.” ‒ Jason Bilney, Chairperson Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation.
“Every Australian, whether First Australians or more recent Australians have the right to independent scrutiny of Government. Today the Federal Court has set aside the declaration for the nuclear waste facility reinforcing how important these rights of independent review are. It has been a significant dispute which has created much pressure on Barngarla and their legal team they should be proud of their efforts to hold the government to account.” ‒ Nick Llewellyn-Jones lawyer for Barngarla.
“The Barngarla have opposed the radioactive waste dump at Kimba since it was first suggested. We have fought for 7 years, to be heard, to be seen and to be respected. We welcome this decision and expect that this will be the end of this threat to our country, heritage and culture. We, the Barngarla have always stood strong and believe that this decision is reflective of staying steadfast; it shows that if you have a voice and want it to be heard, never give up. Continue to be loud. Continue to use your voice. Don’t rely on others to speak for you. Speak up for what’s right. Truth telling is what led us today. We are proud.” ‒ The Barngarla People.
The media release of Friends of the Earth Australia reads:
Prime Minister Albanese must abandon SA nuclear waste dump
The Federal Court has today (18 July) quashed the declaration of a proposed nuclear waste dump site near Kimba in SA, citing ‘pre-judgement’ and ‘apprehended bias’. The court case was initiated by Barngarla Traditional Owners, who are unanimous in their opposition to the proposed nuclear dump.
Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said:
“Today’s decision is an incredible victory for Barngarla Traditional Owners. Now Prime Minister Albanese must kill the nuclear dump plan stone dead.
“It is an outrage that the Albanese government has been attempting to impose a national nuclear waste dump on Barngarla country despite the unanimous opposition of the Traditional Owners.
“It is deeply hypocritical that the Albanese government has been championing a Voice to Parliament at the same time as it ignores and overrides the unanimous voice of the Barngarla Traditional Owners.”
Jane Stinson, Chair of the SA Parliament’s Environment, Resources and Development Committee, said last year:
“In this day and age, when we’re talking about Voice, Treaty and Truth, we can’t just turn around and say, ‘Oh, well, those are our values but in this particular instance, we’re going to ignore the voice of Aboriginal people’. I think that’s just preposterous and it’s inconsistent with what most South Australians would think.”
Susan Close, now Deputy Premier of South Australia, said in 2019 that it was a “dreadful process from start to finish” that led to the nomination of the proposed Kimba dump site and that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to Kimba being targeted.
Susan Close noted in 2020 statement, titled ‘Kimba site selection process flawed, waste dump plans must be scrapped’, that SA Labor “has committed to traditional owners having a right of veto over any nuclear waste sites, yet the federal government has shown no respect to the local Aboriginal people.”
Dr. Green continued:
“It is appalling that the Albanese government has been willing to violate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while at the same time professing to support the Declaration.”
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that: “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”
Dr. Green concluded:
“To date, the issue has been managed by federal resources minister Madeleine King. There appears to have been little or no input from caucus, Cabinet, or the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Prime Minister Anthony Albanese needs to take control and declare that the rights of Barngarla Traditional Owners will be respected, today’s Federal Court decision will not be challenged, and the government will now abandon the plan to impose a nuclear waste dump on Barngarla country.
“Federal Labor should adopt SA Labor’s policy giving traditional owners a right of veto over proposed nuclear waste dump sites. That would give traditional owners across the country some confidence that their voices will be heard as the government progresses plans to store and dispose of waste arising from nuclear-powered submarines in the coming decades.”