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Jury knocks back SA nuclear dump proposal

AAP logoAAP 6/11/2016 Tim Dornin

The proposal to establish a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia has been dealt a major blow with a citizens' jury rejecting the idea.

The jury presented its final report to the state government on Sunday with 70 per cent of its 350 members unwilling to support the proposal for a dump under any circumstances.

Their majority report raised questions over safety and cost and also highlighted a lack of trust in the government to deliver, run and adequately regulate such a facility.

It also emphasised the strong objections of indigenous communities and questioned its economic viability, ruling that claims it could raise billions of dollars were based on "assumptions with little support".

"Many jurors believe we don't have a right to make a decision that will have such long-term and irreversible consequences for future generations," the report said.

But a minority report called for further economic modelling to be conducted before a final decision was made.

It also raised concerns over bias on the jury, questioning whether opponents to the idea of a dump were over represented.

And it objected to the majority report speaking for the indigenous community after the jury was told that there had been a lack of consultation.

"To suggest that the indigenous community then has a unanimous position, without adequate consultation, is incorrect," the minority report said.

Premier Jay Weatherill accepted the reports and said they would now help state cabinet make a decision.

But he said it was clear that the majority view was strongly opposed to the current proposal.

"They've said no but there are also 50 pages of why they've said no and we need to understand that," Mr Weatherill said.

"That status quo is no and the question is whether that status quo should change.

"This jury doesn't believe the present proposal should be taken forward."

The premier said the verdict of the jury also needed to be considered alongside the wider community consultation already undertaken with more than 50,000 people expressing their thoughts to the government.

Those views followed a royal commission into the question of extending South Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle beyond the current mining of uranium which recommended a dump be considered because of the economic benefits.

The SA government has pledged to make a decision by the end of year but has always conceded that to go ahead the dump would need bipartisan support in the parliament and broad community consent.

It would also require a change to Labor party policy, at both the state and federal level.

The Conservation Council of SA said the decision of the citizens' jury made it clear that ordinary South Australians had rejected the proposal.

"The dollars don't stack up, the safety concerns are enormous, traditional owners have said no, and now a citizens' jury made up of randomly selected South Australians from across the state have well and truly rejected it as well," council chief executive Craig Wilkins said.

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