Standing in solidarity on nuclear waste

Posted in News

The topic of nuclear waste repositories is one that has recently garnered a lot of attention in South Australia – in the public sphere, the media, and the Uniting Church community.

The ongoing debate about nuclear waste gained momentum with the recent announcement of a federally-backed plan to establish a low waste nuclear storage facility in the Flinders Ranges. Additionally, the South Australian Government has begun a consultation process to gauge community attitudes about establishing an international nuclear waste management industry for South Australia. This would incorporate management of medium to high level waste, following recommendations from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

This significant issue has also been a matter of debate for members of the Uniting Church in South Australia.

At their meeting on Friday 9 September, the Uniting Church SA Standing Committee formally agreed to stand in covenantal solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) on the issue of nuclear waste repositories in South Australia. The Standing Committee’s decision was informed by previous discussions of this topic by members of the Presbytery and Synod of South Australia.

Initial proposals relating to nuclear waste were presented on behalf of the UAICC at the June 2016 Presbytery and Synod meeting. Consensus was reached on two proposals, including a request that Moderator Dr Deidre Palmer progress a process for members to explore the issue of nuclear waste repositories at a special Synod meeting.

Read more about the discussion and decisions made in relation to the original proposals in the article here.

The special Synod meeting was held on Friday 19 August at Adelaide West Uniting Church. Although it drew a large gathering, member numbers fell just short of a voting quorum, and the event was held as a forum on the topic of nuclear waste, rather than a special Synod meeting.

Seven knowledgeable speakers shared their insights at the forum event, discussing what a nuclear waste repository would mean for communities locally, nationally and internationally. Opportunity was given for attendees to ask questions of the speakers and to engage in discussion with one another. The covenanting relationship between the UAICC and the wider Uniting Church community was particularly emphasised at this event.

Audio from the forum event is available here.

The two proposals approved at the June Presbytery and Synod meeting, along with those approved at the September Standing Committee meeting, form the basis of the Uniting Church SA’s current stance towards nuclear waste repositories in South Australia. The approved proposals are as follows:

That the Synod:

Listen to and acknowledge the concerns and opposition that UAICC are expressing about proposed nuclear waste repositories in South Australia. (Passed in June)

Request the Moderator to progress a process for Presbytery and Synod members to explore the issues of nuclear waste repositories and a special meeting of Synod be convened for decision making on this matter. (Passed in June)

Stand in covenantal solidarity with UAICC to oppose the proposed nuclear waste repository at Barndioota (Flinders Ranges) South Australia. (Passed in September)

Stand in covenantal solidarity with UAICC to oppose the SA Royal Commission’s proposed nuclear waste facilities. (Passed in September)

Members of the Uniting Church SA community are encouraged to learn more about nuclear waste and its management, particularly in relation to the proposed federal low level waste repository, and the state government’s proposal for a medium/high nuclear waste repository.

Upcoming events will explore the topic of nuclear waste repositories further, and will encourage community engagement and conversations.

An upcoming event at Brougham Place Uniting Church will provide one such opportunity. The event will be held on Wednesday 28 September at 7pm, and will feature a keynote address from Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), the Royal Commissioner for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. Others featured on the event panel include Frank H Lampard OAM (Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement), Dr Deidre Palmer (Moderator of the Uniting Church SA), and Craig Wilkins (Conservation SA Chief Executive).

A National Day of Action will provide another opportunity to discuss this topic, and will be held on Saturday 15 October.

All are encouraged to gather knowledge, ask questions and encourage others to engage with this significant issue.


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Comments (3)

  1. Dean Hill 20 october 2016, 21:03 Link
    As a church member my view is that the issue of storage for nuclear waste will not go away as we use and mine the raw material. So in part we as a community have some responsibility for the by-products. As a land of vast areas of stable rock formations we should at least investigate and discus the issue with out all the hype from those that will not even look at the proposals. I myself have a open mind on the subject and it is no good burying ones head in the ground as it will not go away. Nuclear power is a fact and many countries world wide rely on its clean co2 imprint for generating base load electricity. I believe that the church members should have vote on such a important subject as this, before the church takes a position. Sincerely Dean Hill
    1. Zac 01 december 2016, 13:44 Link
      There's no bigger threat to the human race than nuclear, it's extremely dangerous, filthy and expensive. It's not low co2 like people nuclear industry claims, in fact it's worse than fossil when the whole cycle is taken into account including 100s of thousands of tonnes of high level nuclear waste sitting in temporary storages all over the world not to mention cleaning up costs after decommissioning or any accidents/incidents where costs are impossible to estimate.

      The Nuclear Carbon Footprint: Each step costs billions of dollars and utilizes millions of tons of carbon. Each step requires specialized heavy equipment (which uses diesel fuel and electricity) and destroys a new part of the environment. Each step requires factories that are a terrorist target and an ongoing threat of radiation poisoning. Step 1 — Exploration Step 2 — Mining Step 3 — Milling Step 4 — ProcessingStep 5 — Enrichment Step 6 — Fuel FabricationStep 7 — Fuel Assembly Step 8 — Reactor Step 9 — Spent Assembly Step 10 — Interim StorageStep 11 — Reprocessing Step 12 — High Level Waste Disposal Nobody has ever done a true evaluation of the complete carbon footprint of nuclear energy. It is so dangerous that if the Price-Anderson Act were repealed everything would be immediately shut down. Don't forget to include the cost of cleaning up the environment around uranium mines and all these radioactive processing plants.

      1. Zac 01 december 2016, 13:56 Link
        When the whole nuclear fuel cycle is taken into account, nuclear is by far the worst most dirty, dangerous and expensive form of energy production.
        No one even attempted to calculate the costs of decomisioning of nuclear plants as well as any accidents/incidents like Fukushim, Chernobyl, Three Mile, Asse and hundreds more. What about the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of high level nuclear waste sitting in temporary storages all over the world lethal for million years with no solution in sight. Many countries are already phasing out nuclear and replacing it with renewables. Nuclear is the biggerst threat to the human race and must be stopped.
        1. Mark Duffett 30 march 2017, 16:56 Link
          With all due respect, Zac, pretty much every word you have written here is untrue. Nuclear is actually the cleanest, safest form of electricity production we have. Its carbon footprint is similar to that of wind and *much less* than that of solar, according to the IPCC and numerous other sources. The waste you speak has and will kill nobody. It is the height of irony to say 'there is no solution in sight' in comment on a proposal that deals with...a solution. Climate change is by far a greater threat to creation than nuclear, and nuclear has by far the best track record in addressing it, as shown by France, Ontario and increasingly China, where far from being 'phased out', 27 reactors are under construction, out of 67 globally.
        2. Zac 26 august 2017, 20:25 Link
          For 60 years, nuclear power have produced three products which only a lunatic could want: bomb-explosive plutonium, 100s of thousands of tonnes of high level waste lethal for million years and electricity so dear it has to be heavily subsidised. They leave to future generation the task, and most of the cost, of looking after these sights to eternity.