Australian Nuclear Waste Site Flooded, Under Water

Canberra Times p10, 13 April 2006

By Karen Michelmore

One of the proposed sites for Australia's nuclear waste dump, near Katherine in the Northern Territory, has been inundated by floodwaters, residents say.

The Federal Government is considering three potential NT sites for the dump, including a 5km patch of defence land 40km south of Katherine, called Fisher's Ridge. The land is in the middle of the "backyard" of Barry and Valerie Utley's Yeltu Station property, and just 8km from their house.

Mrs Utley said the area experienced serious flooding last week, when brown floodwaters swamped nearby Katherine.

"Everything is very waterlogged," Mrs Utley said. "The run-off from Fisher's Ridge has been absolutely massive. The water is well over the fences still, and the gateway, so we can't really check the paddock. There must have been 2m of water over the fence, it's unbelievable."

Mrs Utley said she could not understand why anyone would want to put a nuclear waste facility in the area, but was hoping "sensibility will prevail".

"If anyone had been up here to see the water run-off, I can't see them even thinking of putting a nuclear waste dump here," she said. "You just can't have this sort of thing in a place where there may be flooding.

"It's a very worrying situation."

Labor Senator Trish Crossin has called on the Government to drop the site from its list of proposed locations for the facility.

The other two potential sites are Harts Range, 100km north-east of Alice Springs, and Mt Everard, also in Central Australia.

The Federal Government has appointed an engineering firm to study the sites to determine their feasibility, with a preferred site due to be selected in the first half of 2007.

But Senator Crossin said investigating Fisher's Ridge would be a waste of money and the company's time. "The Federal Government should simply say we've made a huge mistake here, we've picked this site because it's Defence land and we'll just take it off the list," she said.

"You are simply going to be wasting taxpayers' money and the company's time who is doing the assessment on this site.

"It seriously is madness to actually think you could put the national waste facility in an area that is subject to massive flooding."

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training said Fisher's Ridge would remain on the list of sites being considered for the nuclear waste facility.

The facility could be built above ground.

"As its name suggests, Fisher's Ridge is a local high point that is not subject to flooding," the department said in a statement. However, the margins of this large site are subject to flooding by the King River.

"Fisher's Ridge is some 45km from Katherine and the floods there,"


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