Letters to the editor

LOST BANNER: Marj Vigar, Margaret Hurrell pictured with the missing SACWA Coffin Bay banner, Desma Gerschwitz and Bobby Carr.
LOST BANNER: Marj Vigar, Margaret Hurrell pictured with the missing SACWA Coffin Bay banner, Desma Gerschwitz and Bobby Carr.

Looking for lost banner

The Marble Range South Australian Country Women’s Association (SACWA) Group is trying to locate the Coffin Bay SACWA banner. If anyone knows its whereabouts please contact Dianne Watson 8676 6049 or cmdcwatson@gmail.com   

The photo is of the Coffin Bay SACWA banner held by Margaret Hurrell at the Group's 50th celebration in 2007. We would love to have it on display at our 60th birthday celebrations at the end of March.

DIANNE WATSON

Marble Range SACWA

TIME TO STOP DIVIDING 

It’s time to stop dividing communities; nuclear medicine is not a reason to have a dump. The government links an urgent need for a nuclear waste dump with the use of nuclear medicine. This makes people feel guilty and softens them up for accepting the waste. At the nuclear medicine webinar last month, it was clear this is a phoney argument. There is plenty of supply of technetium (the most commonly used nuclear isotope) worldwide. The 2016 Nuclear Energy Agency Isotope Supply report shows this. So much so that by 2021 there may be a glut. Having a reactor is a policy choice, not a medical necessity.

Most countries import technetium and Australia has in the past.

At the webinar, discussion was shut down when impacts on regional communities were raised. Voices from Hawker, Quorn and Kimba were not allowed.

They were not interested. Organisers did not acknowledge traditional owners, despite Aboriginals having suffered the most from nuclear issues of any Australians. Aboriginal people have been fighting nuclear waste facilities for nearly two decades.

It was very good to hear Mr Sheldrick from the department reaffirm that communities will not be forced to take this long lived radioactive waste if they do not want it. ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), who runs Australia’s reactor, lost $140 million last year. Plus taxpayer capital subsidies of well over $800 million already. So having a reactor as a choice is very expensive.

Another scare tactic at the webinar was that if cyclotrons were used in the future then remote areas have second rate medical care. Once again this is a phoney argument. Regional hospitals could run one of the smaller (and cheaper) cyclotrons. If needed, Australian supplies could always be topped up by imports.

Virtually no waste comes from actually using nuclear medicine, as once used almost all isotopes decay very rapidly and go into the normal rubbbish. 

Talk of mounting piles of radioactive waste in our hospitals is also incorrect. The head of ANSTO said nuclear waste is “not scary”. Yet when asked why it couldn’t stay in Sydney, he hedged. 

ANSTO last year was given additional money to store waste well into the 2020s.

If nuclear waste isn’t scary, and doesn’t damage reputations, why did the suburb Lucas Heights change its name to Bardon Ridge, trying to improve its image? 

Both the Flinders Ranges and Kimba care a lot about their reputations as clean green regions. There needs to be an inquiry into Australia’s production of nuclear waste, and how it is managed. ANSTO’s reactor is a very expensive taxpayer subsidised industry.

Current plans for the nuclear waste facility are well below world’s best practice. The long lived intermediate waste (more than 90 per cent of the radioactivity), is just being stored as a “quick fix”. The first principle of toxic waste management is to reduce production.

We need to press pause, stop ANSTO ramping up radioactive waste production and have an inquiry into ALL parts of the nuclear waste chain. We need to stop pressuring communities with false information about nuclear medicine.

DR MARGARET BEAVIS GP

President, Medical Association for Prevention of War