From Nat – Beyond Nuclear Initiative
“Dear friends and supporters of the ‘no nuclear waste dump at Muckaty’ campaign:
As you may have seen on the news, there has been an important development about the proposed radioactive waste dump. The Northern Land Council, which nominated the site on Muckaty currently under assessment, convened a meeting on November 7 to propose nomination of an additional site on the Muckaty Land Trust as a potential national radioactive dump location.
Below is a synopsis of these recent developments. Please contact me if you require any further information on these points/events, want details to send a support message to the community opposed to the dump or would like to discuss a public response from your organisation.
For people in Melbourne, digital versions of photos from the exhibition ‘Manuwangku, Under the Nuclear Cloud’ are currently on display in Federation Square as part of the ‘Strip Billboard project’- see http://www.fedsquare.com/events/fedtv/ and also http://www.stripbillboard.com for more information.
The photo exhibition will be part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2013 so please keep an eye on the programme and attend the opening if you will be around at that time.
A meeting was held at Muckaty Station on the Muckaty Land Trust on Wednesday November 7, organised by the Northern Land Council. Representatives from the Commonwealth Government attended and gave a presentation about radioactive waste production and management in Australia- what it is, how much there is in Australia, how the materials would be transported to a remote site etc.
Many Traditional Owners who have been active in the campaign to say no to the currently proposed site say they were not formally invited to attend and found out about the meeting through other people.
People involved in the court case challenging the nomination of the original Muckaty site were not directly notified of the meeting by the NLC, instead a notice was sent to Maurice Blackburn Law firm which is representing them. The notification was sent in this manner presumably so the NLC could not be criticised for contacting the clients without going through their lawyers. Maurice Blackburn was later told by the NLC that Traditional Owners involved in the court case and their lawyers were not to attend the meeting. Consultations with the clients and the NLC will be arranged separately so that Maurice Blackburn lawyers can be present.
Beyond Nuclear Initiative believes that people involved in the court case challenging the original site nomination should be involved in any new round of consultations as part of the larger group because the NLC purports that the meetings relate to a separate proposal. The principal legal officer of the NLC Ron Levy stated this clearly at a press conference on November 13:
Well this is separate to, and additional to, not alternative to the nomination which is the subject of court proceedings.
Furthermore, Traditional Owners have been clear that they believe decisions of this magnitude (long term and high impact) require discussion with the whole Muckaty Traditional Owner group.
Dianne Stokes, a well known community spokesperson opposed to the waste dump, was invited to the meeting by an NLC staff member in Tennant Creek. Her invitation was then retracted. An apology was later issued with the justification that the NLC had believed she was a litigant in the court case, which she isn’t.
Traditional Owners have criticised the meeting for a number of reasons including:
* Not enough Traditional Owners were invited to attend;
* There was not enough notification time to organise time off work;
* Two police officers were stationed at the turnoff to Muckaty Station as people arrived which was intimidating;
* There was no microphone used at the meeting so it was difficult to hear proceedings and;
* There was no map on display to show the area that was being considered for an additional nomination.
While it is still unclear to some people who attended the meeting what specific area is being considered for the new nomination, at the November 13 press conference Ron Levy clarified that the NLC does have somewhere in mind:
The Northern Land Council has been asked to formally consult in relation to an additional nomination of separate land under the new statute at Muckaty Station. The consultations were the commencement of that process.
It is very interesting timing to begin consultations for a new site nomination as a federal court hearing was scheduled for November 30 in Melbourne, but has now been cancelled (not due to the proposed nomination). It would seem both the federal government and NLC are concerned about the current court action outcome and/or time frames, as the proceedings will likely to tie up the process for many years and Minister Ferguson has said the government will respect the outcome of the legal proceedings.
However, it is also important to note that the tender for concept design of a remote radioactive waste facility was awarded in mid October to Spanish company ENRESA, so it is clear that Minister Ferguson is lining up all of the pieces ready to go with Muckaty.
Below is a compilation of media clips and links regarding the proposed additional nomination at Muckaty.
NITV News (note these links will expire very soon)
Friday Nov 9:
Wednesday Nov 7:
SBS TV News
Thursday Nov 8: