Queensland

Oman Ama residents reject proposal for nuclear waste disposal site

A group of residents of the tiny Darling Downs hamlet of Oman Ama has banded together in a bid to prevent Australia's first permanent nuclear waste disposal facility from being built near their town.

Oman Ama was one of six sites shortlisted by the Federal Government and announced in November as a possible location for the facility.

The group has written to federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg 'emphatically' rejecting the proposed nuclear waste dump.

The proposed site is roughly 90 kilometres from Warwick on Bennets Gully.

Friends of Oman Ama member and local doctor Colin Owen said in a statement he was not convinced the proposal was risk free.

"Mishaps have occurred in such facilities around the world, including at Lucas Heights in Sydney," Dr Owen said.

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The facility he referred to is the Lucas Heights reactor that produces nuclear medicine. Dr Owen is convinced there have been mishaps in the past 10 years at the reactor.

In 2010 a whistleblower alleged there had been a series of safety breaches at Lucas Heights. 

Dr Owen said the proposed site was just a few kilometres north of Murray-Darling tributaries such as the Condamine.

"The big concern is that if it leaks into there, the whole Murray-Darling waterway will be compromised," he said.

Safety is not the only concern the residents have. Mental health nurse Susan Campbell had a list of worries including devaluation of land, risk to tourism initiatives and anxiety levels in locals.

Not all locals are against the proposal and one resident has offered their property as a potential site for the facility.

Another medical practitioner from Oman Ama, Bob Morrish, is concerned with what has been called 'obfuscation' by the government.

"The government people have not been clear about the difference between storage and disposal, particularly in relation to the so-called 'interim' storage of intermediate level radioactive waste," Dr Morrish said.

"They have refused to define 'interim' but suggested it could be as long as 30 years."

The group is also pressuring the landholder to withdraw his application for the proposed site of the nuclear facility. 

The other five sites on the shortlist are Sallys Flat in NSW, Hale in the Northern Territory and Cortlinye, Pinkawillinie and Barndioota in South Australia.

The government's consultation process is expected to take until March, with a final shortlist of three sites announced later this year.

A final determination of the site will not be announced until after this year's federal election.

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