Nuclear campaign

MELVILLE mayoral candidate George Gear is being targeted over his involvement in a company trying to establish a nuclear waste dump in regional WA.

Flyers purporting to be from the Anti-Nuclear Alliance WA have been circulating in the city highlighting Mr Gear’s directorship of The Azark Project, which has a submission with the Morrison government to establish the dump near Leonora.

Mr Gear told the Herald that far from shying away from his involvement, he was proud of what Azark was trying to achieve and was frustrated they weren’t getting more traction with the federal government.

“Across Australia, around 560,000 routine medical procedures take place every year that use small quantities of radioisotopes, mainly for diagnosis,” Mr Gear said.

“Low-grade nuclear material is also used in small quantities in research by CSIRO and for industrial and defence applications.

“Currently, spent nuclear material is stored at over 100 locations across Australia, including most of our major hospitals.”

Hospitals

But the hospitals are running out of space to store this waste and in 2012 a bi-partisan federal act was passed to create a dedicated facility that Mr Gear said would only be allowed to store domestic waste.

The Shire of Leonora has been supportive of the plan, although president Peter Craig told the ABC earlier this year that might wane because Azark hadn’t followed up with more consultation.

Mr Gear said there wasn’t much to report back on because the Federal government had knocked back Azark in favour of two South Australian sites that it’s currently investigating.

But he says Leonora makes a better site as it’s solid granite, geologically stable and the area’s mining means trucks with hazardous materials are already a known entity. Using private money to build the waste dump would also save taxpayers millions of dollars,” Mr Gear said.

When the Herald contacted anti-nuclear alliance chief K-A Garlick this week, she happened to be hosting a couple of traditional owners from Leonora who said Azark’s proposal had divided the town.

Ms Garlick said she wasn’t aware of the flyers, and ANAWA itself had been inactive for a while, but said she supported its message.

by STEVE GRANT and JUSTIN STAHL

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