Safe Seat

Voter backlash over nuclear issues is a thing of the past.

The Australian National Radioactive Waste Management Facility concept design
The member for Grey was targeted by GetUp, who apparently saw interfering in the voluntary siting of the radioactive waste facility, 1,700 km from its office in Sydney, as a higher priority than offshore exploration for fossil fuels.

Some people are boycotting local businesses in town due to their opposing views on the issue but the Federal Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey believes as the debate continues more people are coming around to the idea.

“That’s very concerning, I had not anticipated that people would go to those lengths. All I have ever wanted was a calm rational debate,” Mr Ramsey said.

“I’m getting increasing contact from people who have stayed quiet about the debate but are actually saying we’re getting more and more interested,” he said.

“(People are starting to) see the upside of it if you like. They are saying it is starting to interest us as we start to think about technological change and efficiencies coming into agriculture and the long term decline of population.”

Mr Ramsey has been a key player in the debate even offering up his own property as a possible site to host the facility before it was deemed a conflict of interest.

Mr Ramsey concedes ascertaining how most of the community feels about the issue is difficult but said 100 per cent support was not necessary for the debate to go ahead.

“I think we need a significant majority, there is going to be a survey process which should touch about 20 per cent of the community, and it will be done by an independent company,” Mr Ramsey said.

Ms Woolford is concerned the risk of jeopardising the regions clean, green image does not justify the proposed benefits of having a nuclear waste facility in the region.

There is no compelling evidence that the development of nuclear facilities in South Australia would adversely affect other economic sectors, provided those facilities are operated safely and securely.

[The royal commission] received submissions warning of reputational damage to South Australia’s clean, green image from further participation in nuclear activities. This assertion is difficult to accept given the experiences of countries with significant activities at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, which have world-leading industries in tourism and agriculture, including aquaculture and viticulture, including France and the USA.

A major nuclear accident resulting in the widespread dispersal of radioactive material would have profound regional impacts. However, such catastrophic consequences are conceivable only in the event of a serious accident at a nuclear power plant. With respect to managing radioactive waste in a highly engineered and specifically designed storage and disposal facility, the risks and potential consequences of an accident are different and lower. Facility siting would also take into consideration a wide range of factors, including any potential economic and social impacts. Nevertheless, community perceptions are important. The community must fully understand the nature of the proposed activity and be provided with objective, factual information about the risks involved, in order for community perceptions to move beyond fear-based assumptions that such a facility is a ‘dump’.

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Oscar Archer

Eco-modernism, clean energy abundance and enhanced opportunity for future generations.