A second group of traditional owners in South Australia have taken their fight against a proposed nuclear waste dump to the courts after lodging a complaint with the Human Rights Commission yesterday.
The complaint by the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) alleges a vote carried out by the Flinders Rangers Council to gauge community support for the development of a nuclear waste dump at one of the three sites north of Hawker was geographically limited and excluded traditional owners.
Another aspect of the complaint concerns damage already done to sacred sites in the region by survey teams which caused much distress to Adnyamathanha women.
The federal government has short-listed two sites near Kimba, along with Wallerberdina Station, north of Hawker in the Flinders Ranges for possible locations for the facility.
The legal action is the second in recent months, with the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation filing an application with the Federal Court earlier this year challenging the Kimba ballot.
In filing the application, the Barngarla people successfully obtained an injunction to prevent any further work until the application can be heard on January 30.
CEO of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA), Vince Coulthard, described the process to select a site for the dump as rushed and not inclusive.
“We definitely don’t want it. We don’t want the site in our area. And same is for the Bangarla people. They don’t want the dump in their area,” Coulthard told NITV News.
“There’s been opposition. Both communities are unwilling communities. Our people have spoken at a number of community meetings now. We’re totally against the waste dump. They’re using the fact there are probably one or two people, maybe a small minority who are supportive of it.”
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (MBL) will act pro-bono for ATLA in the matter.
“The entire process has been entirely flawed,” says MBL associate lawyer Nicki Lees.
“There has been a real lack of consultation with Traditional Owners and for us there is a real social justice issue that the community need to have a say in their land.”
Australia currently has no central storage facility for low-to-medium grade radioactive waste, wwith over 100 sites around the country currently managing their own waste. This has led to two separate proposals to build nuclear waste dumps in recent years.
The first was a state-based proposal supported by the previous South Australian Labor government which would also accept waste from across the world. That plan failed for lack of support.
The second was a federal proposal to build a dump to store domestic low-to-medium grade radioactive waste which has been on-going for 30 years.