Doubts linger over the effectiveness of the $108 million clean-up
of the Maralinga nuclear test site, despite Federal Government
claims that it was a success.
A former head of the Federal Government's Maralinga Rehabilitation
Committee (MRC) says the clean-up of the South Australian nuclear
test site has not been successful.
The former head of the MRC, nuclear scientist Alan Parkinson,
says the shallow burial of nuclear waste at Maralinga is dangerous
and a failure.
He says all of the material should have been treated using in-situ
vitrification where the material is virtually melted on-site, but
the Government stopped that process after an explosion in 1999.
"The Government used that as an excuse to cancel the remaining
vitrification and simply buried everything, in a totally unsuitable
geology in an unlined trench - in that respect, the project was
an abject failure," Mr Parkinson said.
"The Government's own documents pertaining to the national
store for radioactive waste says that shallow burial of long-lived
isotopes is not acceptable, but that's exactly what happened at
But a legal adviser to the Maralinga Aboriginal Community, Andrew
Collett, says he is satisfied the clean-up has been and trusts
the Government's declaration the site is safe.
He says the process of returning the land to the traditional
owners will continue.
"The negotiations are underway with the current negotiation
of a land management agreement to deal with who monitors the land
in the future, who looks after it and what should happen if any
further contamination is discovered," Mr Collett said.
"Maralinga Tjarutja has at all stages had access to all
of the Australian, American, and British scientists involved in
the clean-up, but more importantly Maralinga Tjarutja has always
had unlimited access to its own independent scientific advisers
who have advised that the clean-up is the best that could be achieved."