Government acquires Napandee land for radioactive waste facility

The land acquired by the Commonwealth is 24 kilometres west of the agricultural town of Kimba (pictured).
The land acquired by the Commonwealth is 24 kilometres west of the agricultural town of Kimba (pictured).

A site at Napandee, 24 kilometres west of Kimba, has been acquired for the Australian Government's new radioactive waste management facility.

The government has acquired approximately 211 hectares of land where the facility will be built after designs, technical and heritage studies are completed.

The national facility will receive and manage radioactive waste currently being stored on an interim basis at Lucas Heights, NSW and more than 100 other locations around the country.

Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt, said the new facility would create 45 permanent jobs in Kimba in security, administration, environmental monitoring, scientific services, health and safety.

He said the majority of waste housed in the site would be associated with the production of nuclear medicine, a by-product of which is radioactive waste.

"Along with the benefits comes a responsibility to manage the by-products. Without a facility like this, we can't enjoy the benefits from vital nuclear medicines on an ongoing basis," Mr Pitt said.

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said he was confident the Napandee site was suitable to host the facility, though there are concerns in the community.

"I know that the majority of the local community are behind the project that will bring jobs and new economic opportunities for our region and look forward to the facility proceeding," Mr Ramsey said.

"This is not to say there are not some people with concerns and I will work with them to resolve those issues wherever possible, as we move into the detailed design, delivery and operational phases."

Kimba Mayor Dean Johnson said the official announcement of the location was "the logical next step in the process".

"There are those that don't support the project but we are focused on trying to make sure the benefits that flow through the community flow to every person, no matter their views, and I look forward to a strong future for Kimba and our region," he said.

He said 62 per cent of the community was in favour of the facility, which is a "really strong result for something so complex".

The third round of the Australian Government's Community Benefit Program will open online on December 9, providing $2 million in grants in recognition of the strain the anticipated National Radioactive Waste Management Facility has had on the community.

Mayor Johnson said the community had seen some "fantastic results" from the first two rounds of grants, including a million-dollar upgrade to the local medical centre.

Grants have also provided the council with an Economic Development Officer, and a workforce and training program.

"We're looking toward the future and making sure we plan carefully so we can make the most advantage we can out of the growth we see coming for Kimba and the wider Eyre Peninsula. It's going to be a project far too big to be managed in Kimba alone so our region will also see benefits," Mayor Johnson said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the announcement was likely to cause a new surge of upset in the community.

The group has a number of concerns including lack of consent from the region's Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people.

ACF called the plan "ill considered" - particularly after the Federal Government spent $60 million upgrading its existing Lucas Heights site.

They said the plan did not enjoy bi-partisan political support and fewer than 1000 South Australians had had a say in a plan that had inter-generational implications.

"This issue has a long way to run. The plan needs formal environmental and regulatory assessment and approval and is a long way from a done deal," ACF said.