It is estimated the project will use 2.7 gigalitres of groundwater a year, and the EPA has recommended aquifer levels and water usage be monitored in real-time with data made available to the public.
Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said using the rail line to ship high-level waste faced formidable hurdles on a number of fronts. He said the line had suffered from “a very high level of irregularities, accidents and derailments”. Shipments of waste into any port in Australia would face action by the powerful Maritime Union of Australia, which has previously allowed only Australian-generated waste returning from reprocessing offshore to pass through domestic ports, says Sweeney. And changing various laws to allow the industry to operate would also face considerable hurdles, unless a future government had control of the Senate.
Uranium has been mined at Ranger for three decades, making it Australia's longest continually operating uranium mine.
Defying moves towards a new treaty banning nuclear weapons, Bishop stated that "the stark reality today remains that as long as nuclear weapons exist, many countries, including Australia, will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence to help prevent nuclear attack or coercion".
Tim Mickel, owner of the AridGold date farm shortlisted as a location for the nuclear waste facility, said he wanted to stay involved in the process. He said he believed the effects on the environment of any dump at the site would be negligible. "I really don't think there's going to be any effect to the water table, the aquifer, even the environment, and during the process there's going to be monitoring," he said. "The pharaohs managed to bury their dead for 3,000 years and they come up intact, so why can't we do it with nuclear waste and have the same or nil effect to the environment?"