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A nuclear waste jobs bonanza for regional South Australia?

By Jim Green - posted Thursday, 27 September 2018


The federal government is trying to persuade regional communities in South Australia to host a national radioactive waste facility - an underground burial repository for lower-level radioactive wastes and an above-ground 'interim' store for long-lived intermediate-level waste. One site under consideration is near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, and two other sites under consideration are on farming land near Kimba at the top of the Eyre Peninsula.

The government is promising 45 jobs, three times its earlier claim that there would be 15 jobs at the proposed facility. The compensation package on offer has also tripled and now stands at $31 million.

Forty-five jobs would be welcome in small regional communities. But is it plausible that 45 jobs would be created? When the Howard government was attempting to establish a radioactive waste repository in SA from 1998 - 2004, the government said there would be zero jobs - not even any security guards. The government-commissioned PR company Michels Warren said: "The National Repository could never be sold as "good news" to South Australians. There are few, if any, tangible benefits such as jobs, investment or improved infrastructure."

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From 2005 to 2014, Coalition and Labor governments targeted sites in the Northern Territory for a radioactive waste repository and said there would be just six jobs, all of them security guards.

Last year, with SA once again in the firing line, the government said: "At least 15 full-time equivalent jobs will be needed to operate the facility. These will be in site management, administration, security, environmental monitoring, site and building maintenance as well as receiving and packaging waste materials."

Recently, the jobs estimate was upped to 45, with the government saying: "In addition to the 15 operational jobs already confirmed, the structure now includes roles for community liaison, management, tourism, environmental monitoring, security, health and safety: a total of 45 staff."

This is the breakdownof the 45 jobs:

14 - security and safeguards

13 - waste operations and technicians

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8 - site management and community outreach

5 - environmental protection and quality control

5 - safety and radiation protection

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About the Author

Dr. Jim Green is the national anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter produced by the World Information Service on Energy (Netherlands) and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service (USA).

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