Dumping on a Stale Choice of Words

responsible-camperThe preliminary assessment of South Australia’s potential as the custodian of international nuclear waste has revealed vast future revenue – essentially ours for the taking. The magnitude of this opportunity means any calls for rejection will really need to be substantiated with credible, convincing evidence.

The biggest giveaway regarding opposition to the associated facility is the persistent pejorative “dump“, an early success in anti-nuclear labeling.

From the Jacobs Group cost analysis and business case:

The project will support some 600 full time high value operational jobs across all facilities, including a corporate headquarters in Adelaide… the construction project is estimated to generate between 1,500 jobs through the establishment phase, to a peak of 4-5000 full time positions through the initial establishment of the underground facilities in years 2021 through 2025.

This is far more than bulldozing scrap metal.

Picture a dump in your mind’s eye. Now have a look at these established international facilities:


Onkalo is Finland’s deep geological repository, 12 km from Rauma (population 40,000). The magnitude of the hazard it realistically poses is almost funny.


Zwilag in Switzerland houses separated, final waste as well as dry casks of used nuclear fuel. Make sure to watch the video of how they transport the casks.

Habog in the Netherlands stores separated waste and other HLW forms resulting from reprocessing. It also hosts performance art.


El Cabril has operated as Spain’s low and intermediate radioactive waste facility since 1992. Its successful model is being considered by Australia for our medical byproducts.

Speaking of nuclear medicine, our own ANSTO is a world leader in radioactive waste immobilisation technology.

If you worked in such state-of-the-art, built-for-purpose facilities, would you appreciate a little accuracy in their description? Let’s dump the pejoratives. Such responsible waste management deserves far better.



4 thoughts on “Dumping on a Stale Choice of Words

  1. Before spending anything on this (while hospitals are closing) we need to sign up customers or at least get MoUs. There might be domestic opposition to exporting used fuel or they might suddenly improve their internal operations. Recall the ABC piece on Taiwan’s worrisome Orchid Island facility. Otherwise we could end up with a costly white elephant and a source of social division.

    In my opinion nuclear electricity must come first. When that goes OK for a couple of years and some waste starts to build up then expand the idea. I thought the main aim was low carbon not big bucks.

    • Scarce was just now on the radio making it clear that pre-commitment of funds is essential.

      My understanding was the NFCRC is about identifying benefits for SA. The conservative assessment of power production found high costs (though not as high as trying to do it all with renewables and batteries). It’s pragmatic to improve our state’s financial position while working to identify feasible opportunities to decarbonise.

  2. Oscar you know that our biggest hurdle is the anti-nuclear scare mongering. It was on the Drum last night and on RN this morning with Fran Kelly who insists on calling it a “dump”. Your pictures of European waste disposal sites are great but I doubt it impresses those who can only see high risk radiation exposure. The NFCRC has a long way to go yet.

  3. Great post and a go to guide for discussion on this topic.

    I know the ‘dump’ label has been banded around and honestly it’s been 24 hours since it was confirmed as the major option from the tentative findings. It’ll take time to unlearn the association.

    In the mean time keep posting these images and facts, the public will soon come to realise that if it is going to be a ‘dump’ it’s going to be the Rolls Royce’s of all dumps. The anti lobby does not have a monopoly on the term, there are plenty of examples of words with negative connotations shifting their emotive meaning over time.

    Keep posting this stuff and it’ll slowly but surely change. Australian’s are attuned to BS, especially when someone tries to say that a solid metal will leak.

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