Muckaty clans challenge plan for nuclear waste dump on their land

Testifying . . . Adrian Lovegrove, Robert Sambo, William Graham, Michael Williams, Cleveland Stokes and Mark Chungaloo. Photo: Glenn Campbell

Lindsay Murdoch Sydney Morning Herald April 13, 2010

A Federal government proposal to build a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory faces a fresh challenge from Aboriginal land owners who claim their "dreaming" and traditional laws overlap the nominated site.

Senior elders from five clans that own Muckaty Station, where the Rudd government wants to build the dump, have briefed lawyers to mount a legal challenge to the nomination of the site by one family group that has been offered $12 million.

Muckaty is the only site being considered for the dump, needed to store nuclear waste that has been accumulating around Australia for 50 years. Further radioactive waste from the reprocessing of spent research reactor fuel that Australia has sent to Scotland and France for decades, must be returned to Australia in 2015 and 2016.

In a submission to a Senate committee yesterday, elders from the Ngapa, Milwayi, Ngarrka, Yapayapa and Wirntiku clans rejected a claim by the Northern Land Council that one Ngapa clan has the exclusive rights to say yes or no to the nomination.

They said the findings of a Land Commissioner's report, released in 1997 when Muckaty was handed back to indigenous owners, shows their traditions and dreaming overlap the site 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. They also cited anthropological reports and detailed knowledge handed down through centuries to back their claim.

The elders told the committee they were excluded from anthropological investigations undertaken for the nomination.

Some Muckaty owners who travelled 1000 kilometres to Darwin to give evidence to the committee wore T-shirts depicting their snake "dreaming".

"The senators can see from the drawings where we belong and what the country means to us," said Diane Stokes, the group's spokeswoman.

The elders challenged an anthropological report commissioned by the NLC that purports to show that one Ngapa family group has the right to nominate the site. The report, which has been sent to Canberra, has not been made public.

Amy Lauder, the Ngapa clan's spokeswoman, told an earlier Senate committee hearing five clan groups had "dreaming" on Muckaty but she insisted her family group had the right to nominate the 1.5-square-kilometre site. "It is our decision and it is our land, so we nominated our land.''

Protesters hit out at nuclear waste dump plan

Samantha Kodila The Age April 12, 2010

Anti-nuclear protesters outside Parliament House. Photo: Elizabeth Cannatelli

Anti-nuclear protesters outside Parliament House. Photo: Elizabeth Cannatelli
Source: The Age

Melburnians have joined a nationwide protest against Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's plans for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, in the Northern Territory.

Protesters gathered at Parliament House today before walking to Federation Square where they announced their preferred site for the waste dump - Mr Ferguson's backyard.

The Senate is holding a public hearing in Darwin today following an inquiry into the disputed nuclear dump plan. Muckaty's traditional owners are currently exploring legal action after a protest during Easter at Tennant Creek.

The Melbourne event, organised by Friends of the Earth and the Australian Students Environment Network, has been rallying against the dump since its announcement in 2007, and is part of a growing national campaign.

Both organisations have been promoting the protest through green networks, the social networking site Facebook, and the radio.

Cat Beaton, a member of Friends of the Earth, believes that Martin Ferguson, “really needs to sit down with the people who have been appealing to him for years”.

“Often people feel that nuclear waste has already been won,”Emma Kessord, member of the Australian Students Environment Network, said. “Waste dump is the first thing back on the agenda.”

Muckaty traditional owners have written letters to the government, inviting Mr Ferguson to Muckaty, which is 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, to discuss the dump plan.

An information evening including a photo exhibition and film screening will be held at Northcote Town Hall on Wednesday, April 21.

Protesters demand end to nuclear waste dump plan

April 13th, 2010 NT News

Diane Stokes addresses the rally in Darwin on April 12.
Picture: NT News/Fiona Morrison

About 80 people opposed to a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek protested yesterday in front of the Northern Land Council and Parliament House.

Muckaty Land Trust member and Yapa Yapa elder Diane Stokes led the protest.

She challenged the Ngapa people who approved the deal to prove their culture through dance and ceremony.

"The dancing is with the group who says yes," she said.

"We want to see their ceremony, we want to see their culture."

LHMU secretary Matthew Gardiner said unions would consider work bans if the dump was approved. He attacked the federal minister responsible for the dump, Martin Ferguson - a former head of the LHMU.

"As a former union official he should know any agreement should be done through proper negotiation, as opposed to forcing things through because you can," he said.

Environment centre co-ordinator Stuart Blanch said the facility would be a "Trojan horse" and would later be expanded to take high-level waste.

Ms Stokes also told the NLC to "back off" representing their country, in the wake of the NLC's nomination of Muckaty Station. She said she wanted to be represented by the Central Land Council.

Nuke dump nomination process divisive: Greens

By Sally Bothroyd ABC News April 13th 2010

2008 Protest image
Picture: NT News/Chloe Erlich

A protest against the dump was held outside the Northern Territory Parliament yesterday. (ABC Local: Brooke Bannister)

It is clear something went wrong in the consultation process regarding the nomination of Muckaty Station as a nuclear waste dump, the Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says.

A Senate inquiry into the Federal Government's proposed Radioactive Waste Management Bill wrapped up its public hearings in Darwin yesterday.

It plans to deliver its recommendations by the end of the month.

During its inquiry, the committee heard from different groups of traditional owners, some of whom were for and some of whom were against the Muckaty site, which is located about 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

Senator Ludlam says he supports an idea from the Central Land Council that all interested Indigenous groups get together to resolve the situation.

"It's very clear from the evidence that we've been taking now for a number of years that the process has broken down very seriously," Senator Ludlam said.

"And it's actually proven very divisive, that there's a substantial majority of people, traditional owners from the Tennant Creek area and the Barkly who are strongly opposed to the waste dump."

The Territory's Labor Senator, Trish Crossin, says it is clear that there is a dispute over the process to nominate sites for a national nuclear waste storage facility.

Senator Crossin, who chaired the Senate inquiry, says it is a complicated issue.

"If this is the legislation that is going to put a nuclear waste facility in this country forever, for once and for all, we certainly want to make sure that it's done with the consent of people that [are] going to be affected by this," she said.

"[And] with the consent, I think, of governments concerned and that the community is in agreement with this."

This image in raw but offers a harsh perception