Rallying against nuclear waste

Posted in News

This Saturday 2 December, Uniting Church members and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) representatives, including Adnyamathanha woman Vivianne McKenzie and the Uniting Church President-elect, Dr Deidre Palmer, will gather on the Parliament House steps in Adelaide at 11am for the Don’t Dump on SA Rally.

Those gathered at this family-friendly event will protest the Federal Government’s plans to explore establishing a nuclear waste facility at sites in the Kimba and Wallerberdina/Barndioota areas.

The proposed dump would store intermediate level nuclear waste, above ground as an ‘interim’ measure until being moved again for deep underground disposal. The Federal Government has no plans for the permanent disposal of the intermediate-level waste, so ‘interim’ above-ground storage in SA could stretch to 100 years or more.

This intermediate waste is the highest level radioactive waste in Australia, in some international jurisdictions, it is classified as high level radioactive waste. It poses a serious threat for thousands of years.

The Uniting Church stands in solidarity with our Indigenous sisters and brothers who have said the establishment of a dump site could destroy significant cultural heritage and countless sacred sites including Hookina spring (Pungka Pudanha). Located a few kilometres from the Wallerberdina cattle station near Barndioota, the waters of this historical site attract birdlife and encourage lush vegetation and birdlife.

The Wallerberdina/Barndioota site is described as “an oasis in paradise” by Adnyamathanha woman Vivianne McKenzie, who recounts the waters that bubble to feed reeds and large eucalypts – a stark contrast to the dry landscape that surrounds it.

Vivianne fears a nuclear waste dump will remove history for the Adnyamathanha people, describing the action as “genocide for the Aboriginal people and for the State of South Australia.”

The Uniting Church in South Australia has taken a strong stance on the establishment of nuclear waste facilities in the past.

At a meeting in September 2016, the SA Standing Committee formally agreed to stand in covenantal solidarity with the UAICC on the issue of nuclear waste repositories in South Australia.

At the most recent Presbytery and Synod meeting (23-25 November 2017), members passed a proposal asking the Presbytery and Synod to call on the SA Labor Government to enforce the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 to prevent a nuclear waste dump being established in South Australia.

Members of the Uniting Church SA are invited to show their support for Adnyamathanha peoples by attending the Don’t Dump on SA Rally alongside other Uniting Church and UAICC leaders and members.

Find out more about the event on the Facebook page here.

Caption: Members of the Uniting Church, UAICC and others gathered by Hookina Spring (Pungka Pudanha) during a 2016 pilgrimage on Adnyamathanha country. Photo: Caryn Rogers.

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