Friends of Omanama
29 February 2016
Six communities, one concern: Oman Ama delegates take radioactive waste dump opposition to Canberra
Representatives of the six regional communities being actively considered as possible sites for a national radioactive waste facility are taking their concerns to Canberra next week. They include Mark Russell and Annette Clement who have travelled from one of the proposed communities, Oman Ama near Inglewood in Southern Queensland.
In November 2015 Resource Minister Josh Frydenberg named this site in Queensland, plus three sites in South Australia and one each in New South Wales and the Northern Territory as potential locations for a facility where low level radioactive waste would be permanently stored and intermediate level waste would be temporarily stored. “The Government cannot tell us how long this temporary storage would last for, as they admit they have no permanent solution for disposing of this waste which has a much longer half-life and is more dangerous” said Mark Russell.
There has been deep concern and active opposition to the waste plan at each of the sites, including from Friends of Oman Ama, a group formed to oppose the site in Queensland.
Annette Clement and Mark Russell are travelling to Canberra from Queensland and tomorrow, Tuesday 1 March, will join their colleagues from the other sites to convey these concerns to a range of federal politicians. Resources Minister Frydenberg has indicated that while he is not personally available, two of his advisers will meet with the delegation, as will other politicians from a range of political parties.
“We come from very different parts of Australia, but we share a common concern”, said Mark Russell, a local grazier whose property is near the site.
“We do not want to see this material moved into our region. This is where we live, where we work and where we raise our families” said Inglewood mother of four, Annette Clement, whose bank manager has told her that the value of her small property is likely to decrease should the project go ahead.
The site at Oman Ama was volunteered by local landholders when they were offered four times the market price by the Federal Government as part of the initial steps in what local GP, Dr Colin Owen, describes as a flawed process. He said at a recent Friends of Oman Ama meeting “We are not anti-nuclear, we are not anti-nuclear waste, but we are anti this process which is dividing our community”. No discussions were held – nor required by the process – with neighbours of the property, nor was the local community advised these negotiations were taking place prior to the November announcement. Many local residents only learned of it through the media.
“We do not want a nuclear waste facility built in the midst of rich grazing and agricultural land, including organic farms” said free-range pig and sheep farmer Belinda Marriage, who suggests that a better boost to the local economy would be focussing on the produce grown in the area and on food tourism, adding “Taste it, don’t waste it”
“We do not support the community consultation process, which is dividing the community and adding to its stress levels” added Sue Campbell, whose family has farmed next door to the proposed site for generations, and who remembers going to Bennets Gully for picnics as a child. Sue is a Mental Health Nurse serving the wider Inglewood community and has noticed a decrease in mental well-being in the area since the site selection process was announced in November 2015.
“The Minister has consistently stated that the Government will respect the wishes of the community, but then arbitrarily confines this to a 50km boundary around the site, so disenfranchising many property owners who are likely to be affected” said Mark Russell as he prepared to depart for Canberra to ensure justice for the community he represents.
Minister Frydenberg intends to narrow this list to two or three sites, following the closure of the public comment period on 11 March, with a view to selecting a preferred site by the end of 2016.
Media contact: Wendy Moline 0439 493 582
Mark Russell is available for interview after 4 pm Monday 1 March,
please contact Wendy Moline to arrange this