The Federal Government’s plan to use Aboriginal land on Muckaty Sation in the Northern Territory as a nuclear waste dump is being strongly opposed by elders who claim that the Northern Land Council incorrectly identified only one family as the owners of what is an important male initiation site of the Yapa Yapa people. (For background to traditional owners' opposition to the Muckaty dump, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcuNpT84Ovo&feature=colike )
Now other groups are likely to find reason to fight the Muckaty dump with the release of a Federal Government report that advises sending waste from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney via the Riverland and South Australia.
This roundabout route has been identified because residents of the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney have strenuously opposed the passage of up to 8000 tonnes of radioactive materials through their region.
A further 67 tonnes of intermediate level waste will be shipped from Scotland and France to Adelaide for the Muckaty dump.
The last time a Federal Government identified a site for a nuclear dump was in 1998 when John Howard proposed using a site in South Australia in semi-desert country within the Woomera Prohibited Area.
For the next 6 years, Aboriginal women at Coober Pedy led a struggle to prevent the transport of radioactive waste to Billa Kalina region.
They established the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta or Coober Pedy Women’s group and united with environmentalists and unionists in an ultimately successful campaign.
They ran their campaign under the banner of Irati Wanti – the poison, leave it.
Now the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta are having to face the prospect of nuclear waste being transported through their lands to be deposited at Muckaty Station in opposition to the wishes of the traditional owners of that place.
Muckaty Station and Billa Kalina before it were regarded as “remote” and therefore “safe” as nuclear waste dumps by city-based politicians. However, the question of “for whom” must be asked of the concept of remoteness. For people living along the proposed transport route, or in the region of the proposed dump, there is nothing “remote” at all.
Huge B-double trucks are not immune from accidents either along any leg of the route.
Hopefully the traditional owners of Muckaty will win their Federal Court challenge to the dump.
In any case, opposition to the proposed route is sure to grow.