The Guardian 23 November, 2005

Owners reject nuclear dump

Traditional owners in the Northern Territory are maintaining their strong opposition to Federal Government moves to place nuclear waste dumps on their country.

Central Australian owners have taken their opposition to Sydney and Canberra, where they delivered a blunt message ó "we donít want a nuclear dump on our country".

The Federal Government has moved to override NT laws that would ban a dump in the Territory, with a Senate inquiry now under way but unlikely to stop the Government after NT Senator Nigel Scullion ruled out crossing the floor on the issue.

Under the Federal dump proposal, sites at Fishers Ridge, near Katherine, and at Mt Everard and Harts Range, near Alice Springs, are being considered.

The Darwin-based Northern Land Council has maintained a line that a dump for low-level waste could be placed on land provided traditional owners agreed and sacred site and environmental issues continued to be protected by law.

Senior Djapu law man David Wirilma Mununggurr also rejected a reported statement by Indigenous leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu that he would be happy to consider a nuclear waste dump on his Gumatj tribal land.

Mt Mununggurr said he and other traditional owners did not want such a dump at all on their land.

Traditional owners in the Central Land Council area, where there are two proposed dump sites, are deeply worried by government moves.

After listening to presentations from the Federal Department of Science and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation they decided the proposal had no positive benefits.

Owners are concerned about safety and security issues, pollution and future health.

Alcoota Aboriginal Corporation Chairman William Tilmouth, who went to Sydney and Canberra last month, said his companyís beef sales could be badly hit by any nearby waste dump.

"Other pastoralists have also expressed concern over the perception by the public that the beef will be contaminated. The cattle industry out there prides itself on being clean and green", he said.

Steve McCormack, who lives close to the proposed Mt Everard site, said a nuclear dump would be devastating for him and his family.

"The land is not empty. People live right nearby", he said.

"We hunt and collect bush tucker here Ö we donít want this poison here".

Traditional owner Audrey McCormack, who was on the delegation to Sydney and Canberra, was equally as adamant. She said her land may be poisoned by an accident on any dump or during the transport of material.

The Koori Mail, Nov 16, 2005

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