Genesee & Wyoming’s transcontinental nuclear strategy on track
former Nationals leader Tim Fischer ... tells The Weekend Australian that the prospect of one day using the line as part of a nuclear storage industry was part of cabinet’s deliberations in 1999 when it agreed to invest in the line. “Informally, ­certainly it was there,” he says.

While the idea of waste storage has been around since the early 1980s, when Bob Hawke commissioned an inquiry, Malcolm Turnbull has strongly backed this as a future industry for Australia.

Asked if GWA could play a role in this industry, Pauline limited his comments to the current issue of setting up a storage facility for Australia’s own low-level waste. He said: “There is little doubt that one of the safest modes of transport to move low-level radioactive materials, like used and decaying medical isotopes, is via rail. In principle, with the right processes and procedures in place, we as a global freight operator would definitely consider moving that type of material by rail.”

He believes there were some potential storage locations for radioactive material in the Territory and South Australia “that make sense”.

Should Australia ever develop a nuclear waste storage industry, there’s no guarantee that Darwin-Adelaide would play a role given the potential sites closer to the South Australian coast.

Fischer says that the enormous underground chasms deep beneath Roxby Downs could prove to be the perfect location for such an industry. “As far I was concerned, having visited the huge stable empty man made chasms underground Roxby — this was in my thinking absolutely and could still happen,” he said. Even though Darwin is closer to potential Asian and European markets, Fischer said the additional distance to reach ports in South Australia would amount to an insignificant cost.

He said the waste could be moved along the Darwin-to-Adelaide line to Pimba, a small settlement located near the junction where the Darwin line joins the east-west transcontinental line. He said this could involve building a spur line to Roxby, or a system of electric trucks.

“Darwin, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Adelaide, they all have direct centre gauge to Pimba. From there you would truck it right through to underground chasms in a glassification form. It is perfectly safe,” he said. “It’s not rocket science. There’s already uranium going out of Adelaide. There’s already infrastructure there in place. It is the next big economic injection into South Australia,” he said.

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.

Alice group to oppose date farm as nuke dump site at public meeting
The Federal Government has short-listed a former date farm 70km south of Alice Springs as one of six possible locations to house Australia’s radioactive material.

The government has promised infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the facility and says $10 million will be awarded to the host community.

Opponents of the Central Australia site say it’s flood prone, sits on the edge of two water basins and is productive for horticulture and cattle.

An online petition at has so far attracted 400 signatures.

The petition says bordering the date farm is a land trust made up of three homesteads, the closest being Oak Valley outstation, owned by Mary Le Rossignol and her husband Robert, and the other is Walkabout Bore.

“The proposed nuclear waste dump site is 10km from Oak Valley, our boundary ends at the date farms fence, way too close for comfort,” the petition states.

Tara Liddy, from Oak Valley, said she was opposed to “putting poison into the ground that we belong to”.

“This is where I grew up, and my concern is that my son will not be able to enjoy the same childhood that I did on that country,” she said.

The family has previously claimed they weren’t notified of the landowner’s decision to nominate his freehold property.

Alice Springs doctor Hilary Tyler said the nuclear industry was dirty. “It is a myth that we need a waste dump for medical radioisotopes,” she said. “We can provide all cancer treatment without a nuclear reactor in Australia.” The opponents say Lucas Heights in Sydney has capacity to store all nuclear waste generated there for the next 20 years. “There is no rush to impose a dump on an unwilling community in an environmentally unsuitable location,” organisers of the meeting said in a statement.

Ship laden with nuclear waste heading to Australia despite safety concerns
The 25 tonnes of waste was originally generated by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and sent to France in 2001 for reprocessing.

Australia generates nuclear waste from ANSTO's research reactor program, and successive governments have, unsuccessfully, attempted to find a new dumping site for this waste.

An Areva spokesman said some small flaws had been found in the inspection that had been corrected.

Once in Australia, the waste is set to be held at the Lucas Heights facility in Sydney.

Dave Sweeney, anti-nuclear campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the placement of the waste at Lucas Heights is the “least worst option”.

“It’s a purpose built facility that is secure and has the highest level of nuclear expertise,” he said.

“In the future we need a full, public process that looks at the full range of options. Australia has to take responsibility for its own waste but we strongly believe that Australia shouldn’t become an out of sight, out of mind dumping ground for the world’s nuclear waste.”

Uranium miner defends moving radio-active goods in back of ute
Uranium Miner Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) says moving radio-active material in barrels in the back of a ute is in accordance with national guidelines, after a photograph emerged showing that was happening in the Northern Territory. But Lauren Mellor from Nuclear Free NT said transporting goods by ute in such a manner was dangerous. "It defies common sense and community expectations that this kind of material isn't physically secured. Especially in Wet Season transport on the Arnhem Highway. It really boggles the mind that a company under the spotlight as ERA are at the moment, with three separate investigations into the regulation of their mine ongoing, that they are not taking a closer look at how people feel about this kind of dangerous cargo being transported on their roads."

toxic territory transports