We all have a duty to help make a good …

Comment on Fund Solar City and Water Smart, not footy lights: Alice environmentalists by Larry.

We all have a duty to help make a good decision about how best to manage this long lived nuclear waste, that will remain a hazard to human health and the environment well beyond the foreseeable future. A remote (out of sight / out of mind) location like Muckaty may not be the best management plan.
Hoping for the best, we’ll probably do a better job of looking after this unique burden if it remains in sight of the experts – the nuclear boffins at ANSTO who produced the waste in the first place.
Planning for the worst, we probably shouldn’t dump the waste anywhere that is entirely dependent on groundwater.
But ultimately, the best decision is one that is politically stable: anything that is forced upon an unwilling target is highly susceptible to being challenged and eventually overturned.
Some people insist that the only option is to dump it on someone who can’t fight back, dismissing the scenario of a fully informed community making the difficult decision to host nuclear waste, such as in your Swiss example. But in fact, here in Australia we’ve never tried.
We’ve had around 20 years of the failed strategy of imposition; perhaps it is time for Australia to try and see if a genuinely consultative process can’t be more successful.

Recent Comments by Larry

Pilger review: Greens strike back
Hey Ray, did you actually read Meke Mekarle (the Little Children are Sacred report)? I did.
Sure, it detailed the realities of abuse and neglect of aboriginal children in NT communities. But it also detailed the prolonged systematic neglect of decades of successive governments that have deliberately underfunded and starved those communities of resources. The media talked up stories of pedophile rings, but in fact the report looked more broadly at the range of challenges facing children growing up in NT communities. And there’s a nexus: the lack of basic service provision that most Aussies take for granted, and over crowded housing in particular, are major risk factors for abuse.
The report didn’t just detail abuse and neglect perpetrated by community members, interlopers and governments, but also described principles for redressing the harm and risks uncovered. The report listed almost a hundred recommendations for action, not one of which were taken by the commonwealth, who instead instantiated the NTER.
If governments were motivated in this policy area by concern for kids, they’d have addressed the detail of the report. Fact is, the NTER didn’t even mention the word children, and the intervention / stronger futures policies have alternative ideological objectives entirely.


Pilger’s polemic fails Australia and Aborigines
@2 how do “Pilger and his supporters here have the blood of Aboriginal children on their hands”?
It’s not like the community based efforts to moderate the broad measures of the intervention laws has had any success: the intervention has steamed on ahead, through two changes of government.
How can you pin any blame on a generally ineffective opposition to this wide reaching policy suite, that has had far more impact on local people and communities than “Pilger and his supporters” can hope for, let alone claim?
With this opening salvo, Mr Price well and truly blew the film’s lack of balance and perspective itself well out of the water. No small feat!
I watched the film, and was quite sure that, far from Mr Price’s accusation of “abuse that these lunatics tell us doesn’t exist”, Mr Pilger was quite careful and deliberate about saying that there are real issues around child abuse and neglect.
I think it is entirely inaccurate to mis-represent this debate as one between the hard-line interventionists who are tough enough to confront the reality of abuse in communities, and feeble opponents who refuse to accept that reality: I think that a more honest representation would acknowledge that,
A) strident advocates of the intervention are often guilty of ignoring the reality that most Aboriginal people are as pained by the suffering of Aboriginal children as anyone, much of which comes from institutionalised harm, and
B) many opponents of the intervention policies, including the authors of the Meke Mekarle report, insist that the intervention’s greatest flaw is that these laws do not focus sufficiently on the stated rationale, and cannot be expected to successfully address the objectives.
I think there are some valid criticisms about the narrow line Pilger’s film walks.
To me, it looked like a call-to-action for the international community, rather than a tool to help mainstream Australia better understand our challenges. So I’m not surprised if local viewers find it unhelpful. But to respond to Utopia’s one-sided message with a rant like Mr Price offers is just as useless.


Taking down Snowdon, little chunk by little chunk
Stories about “the sloth of passive welfare” are aimed at blaming Territorians for their own circumstances of disadvantage, while side stepping the realities of prolonged institutionalised underfunding of basic social services that mainstream Australians take for granted.
By perpetuating this unhelpful and divisive misrepresentation, this paper is part of the problem.


No risk from uranium, thorium at mine near Alice: chairman
G’day Brendan. My understanding of the radiation levels of the thorium waste stream from this project comes from the Notice of Intent they supplied when applying for environmental assessment.
You really need to pick one story and stick to it. By arguing both that the radioactive waste is harmless, and that renewable advocates are hiding a toxic secret, your rant becomes internally inconsistent: illogical.
Yes, rare earths, which do have applications in some renewable and energy efficient technologies, are commonly found in radioactive sands. But the levels are usually much lower than at a uranium mine, and this project is uncommon in being co-located with such a large volume of highly radioactive thorium.
As I described, their processing plant would concentrate that large, long-lived radioactive waste stream to more than 20 times its natural levels. I agree with your inference that this represents a serious environmental management challenge for the project – personally I doubt they can do it responsibly.
The fact remains, the most dangerous product of this project is the uranium. But that’s really a very small component, and the project would certainly still be viable if they didn’t produce yellowcake.


No risk from uranium, thorium at mine near Alice: chairman
No risk?
this project includes a small but commercial quantity of uranium: once its made into fukushima fuel (or bomb fuel) the risk is huge.
As for the thorium, it will be concentrated more than 20x natural levels before they’re ready to dump it back on site.
Managing radiation in the environment is a real challenge, and I don’t trust anyone willing to downplay the stakes.


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