Traditional owners will take legal action to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia amid plans by the federal government to start earthworks at the proposed site.
The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation’s action went to federal court on Wednesday. Legal arguments will be heard in July, ahead of a substantive hearing, most likely before the end of this year.
The court was told there were plans to begin earthworks before September at the site in Napandee, near Kimba on South Africa’s Eyre Peninsula.
If built, the site would be used to store low-level nuclear medical waste currently spread across more than 100 facilities, including universities and hospital basements.
Judge Natalie Charlesworth asked for sufficient notice to allow the court to hear requests to stop the works.
Justice Charlesworth said such notice would avoid the need for an urgent hearing.
“What I’d like to avoid is what I might call a pajama hearing where it’s called at midnight, and we all come in here in our pajamas, and we have an unnecessarily urgent argument,” she said.
The Barngarla launched their campaign in December to overturn the coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the statement by former resource secretary Keith Pitt.
The company also recently wrote to new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, urging him to scrap plans for the landfill.
It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn and denied them their right to participate in a community vote to gauge local support for the site.
The company said the coalition also refused entry to the land to conduct a proper heritage survey and sought to remove its right to judicial review.
“While we appreciate all that Labor has done in the opposition, the people of Barngarla are making it unequivocally clear that we are asking the new Labor Secretary to withdraw the statement or agree to the orders nullifying it,” it wrote in its statement. Letter to the prime minister.
In Wednesday’s lawsuit, there was no indication that the Labor government would have a different view of the matter than the previous administration.
Ahead of the hearing, a spokesperson said the traditional owners were confident they would win their case if the action going on.
“However, we again call on the new Labor Minister to quash the statement,” the spokesman said.
“We don’t want to go to court against the Labor government for the next two years.”
Last November, the previous government announced it had acquired 211 acres in Napanee, with the proposed facility pending heritage, design, and engineering studies.
The vast majority of nuclear waste produced in Australia is associated with nuclear medicine production.