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SA dump decision years away, says premier

AAP logoAAP 28/07/2016

A "no turning back" decision to build a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia is still years away, Premier Jay Weatherill says.

The state government on Friday launched a three-month community consultation program on the recommendations rising from a Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

That includes the idea of earning billions of dollars by hosting high-level waste from overseas at an underground facility in SA's north.

About 100 community meetings will be held with community feedback helping for inform a final report to be prepared for the government by a jury of 350 randomly selected citizens later this year.

But Mr Weatherill says whatever the outcome of that process, a final decision on the dump is still some way off, and will be proceeded by a series of "gated decisions" to move ahead cautiously.

"This is not a decision that's going to be taken anytime soon," the premier said on Friday.

"There will be a point at which we get to an irrecoverable step, where we will have to commit ourselves if we choose to do so.

"That will be many elections down the track and what you'll see is the people of South Australia will have an opportunity to express their views through the ballot box."

"That's the ultimate democratic control here."

But South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon said only a referendum of all South Australian voters would be adequate for such a momentous decision.

"Because once we have a nuclear dump, that's it. We will be known as the nuclear dump capital of the world," he said.

South Australian Greens MP Mark Parnell also criticised the consultation process which he said had ignored the history of failures, cost overruns and risks associated with waste storage.

"The government says it wants South Australians to have the facts, but it has chosen just some of the facts to present," he said.

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