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CITIZEN JURY TO SHAPE NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

28-06-2016
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ABC News: Lauren Waldhuter

In 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill launched a study into the uranium-rich state’s involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the results of that study has been conducted by a Royal Commission were released in May this year.

With the Citizens’ Jury in South Australia deliberating on the matter last week in the first of two week-end long meetings to discuss the finding before providing a report.

A second, much larger panel will convene in Septemeber to discuss further.

One of the jurors, Scodhir Mishra, said he was open to the idea of developing a nuclear waste industry in South Australia.

"There are some things that need to be really looked at. I mean, you cannot be 100 per cent sure of everything in the world," he said.

"Aeroplanes crash but do you stop travelling? So the question is how rational you are at taking an objective view and arriving at a decision."

Tam Caddell said she was looking forward to being part of the jury, but feared the State Government had already made up its mind.

"Have they thought about the long-term effects on fauna and flora, and interruption of Aboriginal land, and the effects storage will have on the water basin?" she said.

The report aims to essentially summarise the views of the community to acts alongside the Royal Commissions Final report.

Weatherill told the South Australian Press Club this month the process reflected the “debate and decide” approach to governing.

“This model is being applied to many aspects of my Government’s work – not only the nuclear question – and is something I’m happy to be judged against daily,” he said.

“I see the process we’ve now set in place as an opportunity to deal with the specific and practical matter of deciding on the extent of our future role in the nuclear fuel cycle,” Weatherill said.

“I also see it as a chance to enhance our democracy more generally – to show that people do have a role in shaping policy and setting the direction for the state, that they do have a voice, and that they will be listened to.

“I sense a strong willingness among South Australians to take part in this fresh approach.”

Alongside both the Royal Commisions report and the Citizens' Jury's, The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission released its initial findings in the state’s capital Adelaide in February showing a nuclear waste disposal facility in the South Australian outback would be safe, viable and highly profitable.

Commissioner Kevin Scarce, a former South Australian Governor, said although nuclear was an emotional subject, the process was one of science and facts and not driven by opinion and emotion.

“Any future moves to increase the state’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle should not proceed without social consent,” he said in February.
“South Australia is leading the nation in having this discussion.”

The findings were also welcomed by the Opposition Liberal Party.

“The Royal Commissioner has laid the ground work for a substantive community debate regarding the recommendations contained in the report,” State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall said.

“I look forward to the people of South Australia having their say about the future of the nuclear fuel cycle in our State.”

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