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"It's a desecration": Traditional owner slams SA nuclear dump plan

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A traditional owner of the Flinders Ranges area short-listed to become a national nuclear waste dump says the plan is an “attack on our culture” that would “desecrate” sacred sites.

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Adnyamathanha traditional owner Regina McKenzie told InDaily Barndioota Station, near Wilpena Pound, was home to spiritually and architecturally significant sacred burial sites and story lines.

McKenzie, also a lease holder living next to the station, said placing a nuclear waste dump on the site would amount to a “desecration”.

She said the plan showed “appalling” disrespect to Aboriginal culture and the Government “should be ashamed”.

“It’s a desecration; it’s a desecration of our belief system,” she said.

“What little he have left, let us preserve it for our future people.

“We still hunt and we still gather in that area.”

She said the Adnyamathanha people wanted to preserve the story lines within the land “not only for our children but for non-Aboriginal people to come in and learn about our culture”.

“Imagine if somebody approached the Vatican and told them they wanted to put a nuclear dump [there]?”

The Turnbull Government this morning announced the station had been short-listed as a prospective site for a national dump site for medical and laboratory nuclear waste.

It insists a former Liberal senator who co-owns the site won’t get a massive pay-off.

Grant Chapman owns the long-term lease to the property, 500km north of Adelaide near the Flinders Ranges, which has been pinpointed ahead of five other sites for the dump.

Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg said Chapman had no say in the outcome and he would not get a windfall with rising land values.

“You’re only talking a few thousand extra dollars that could be in his pocket, which is not what someone like Grant Chapman … put their hands forward for this process,” he told ABC radio this morning.

Chapman didn’t realise his land was the preferred site until reporters phoned to tell him this morning.

“It was a bit of a surprise to me that they’ve narrowed it down to one site,” he told ABC radio.

Chapman chaired a select committee in the 1990s that recommended the country’s low-level nuclear waste be stored in a single facility.

“So it’s taken some 20 years to get to this stage and they’re still considering a decision,” he said.

Conservation Council SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said a nuclear waste dump on the site would damage South Australia’s tourism brand.

He said it “puts at risk the image of one of the state’s tourism icons: the Flinders Ranges” and was not “an economic or employment solution for SA” because it would create “a maximum of just six ongoing jobs”.

“Nuclear waste has an enormous power to divide and fracture communities.”

Frydenberg  played down the impact of the low-level waste to communities nearby any dump site, saying it was the “gloves, goggles and test tubes” that came in contact with nuclear medicine.

Two Olympic pool-sized waste stockpiles were already being stored around Australia, he said.

“The whole purpose of building a single repository is to make it safer and it make it a long-term solution,” Frydenberg said.

– with AAP. Image: AAP / Wilpena Pound Resort

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