Aboriginal traditional owners vow to oppose Alice Springs nuke waste dump

The owner of the date farm shortlisted for the dump has said if the Egyptian pharaohs were buried for thousands of years with no ill-effects on the environment, the same should be possible with nuclear waste.

The farm south of the town is one of six locations around Australia being considered to house low and intermediate level radioactive waste.

Around 50 people turned out at a public meeting in the community of Santa Teresa, near the proposed dump, where opponents of the plan directed their anger at officials from the Commonwealth's Department of Industry.

Mark Weaver, manager for the Government's Radioactive Waste Management Project, said it was a productive discussion but there's a long way to go before any decisions are made.

"There's a lot of talk that this is a rushed process. It isn't," Mr Weaver said.

"The next decision made will not be selecting a site but will be short-listing."

Aboriginal traditional owners said they were sad and in shock following the meeting.

"[The meeting] made us really upset. We're thinking about the land and our ancestors, they are still floating around the land and [the Government] is trying to destroy it," traditional owner Sharon Alice said.

"It's going to destroy the land forever. We're thinking about our future. Dump it somewhere else, not in our backyard."

Barbara Shaw from the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance said it was bad timing for consultations.

Jimmy Cocking, director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
PHOTO: Jimmy Cocking, of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, says Aboriginal traditional owners do not want the dump on their lands. (ABC News)
"A lot of our mob have cultural obligations and activities coming up soon, we have a lot of people going into town for health reasons and because it's Christmas, a lot of people go away for holidays," she said.

Jimmy Cocking from the Alice Springs-based Arid Lands Environment Centre said it was clear traditional owners, the people of Santa Teresa, Oak Valley and Titjikala do not want the nuclear waste site in their backyard.

Mr Cocking said if the date farm is shortlisted he will stand by traditional owners in continuing to fight against it.

"If that means demonstrations and protests, we'll be there. But in the meantime, we'll engage in this process and hope that sense comes to the Federal Minister and they realise the error of their ways."

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?"