The release of the Royal Commission report has made headlines in our papers.
It's going to get interesting when the lobby groups get organized and this may affect the future polls...We are going to hear plenty more on this issue.
Nearly half of SA supports nuclear waste dump in the state, Galaxy poll shows
February 22, 2016 9:00pmEXCLUSIVE — DANIEL WILLS STATE, POLITICAL EDITORThe Advertiser
Dateline examines opposing views on the disposal of nuclear waste and, which nations are the biggest dumping grounds.
ALMOST half of the state backs establishing a high-level nuclear waste facility in South Australia, and support for the controversial proposal is strongest in the city and among men.
An exclusive Advertiser-Galaxy poll is the first test of public opinion since the release of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s interim findings last week.
In a shock result, it shows the number of people who support setting up a high-level international nuclear waste dump in SA outnumber their opponents by a significant margin.
Overall, 48 per cent of respondents back the idea and 39 per cent are against. A relatively small 13 per cent of people are uncommitted, indicating there are strong passions on both sides.
Has your view on a nuclear waste storage facility changed over the years?
Yes - I now support the idea but previously did notNo - I have always supported the ideaYes - I now do not support the idea, but previously didNo - I have never supported the idea
In Adelaide, 50 per cent of respondents back the dump and 38 per cent oppose. That result is reversed in the regions, where nuclear opponents outnumber supporters by a slim 43-41.
It is a seismic shift since 2000, when international conglomerate Pangea proposed a high-level nuclear waste dump for SA and a huge 95 per cent of poll respondents statewide rejected it.
However, the biggest divide today is on gender lines. Men, who are hardest hit by the decline of traditional manufacturing industries, give overwhelming 59 per cent support to a dump.
That compares with just 38 per cent of women backing the idea. A larger 44 per cent are against it.
Support for a dump also rises with age, and those aged over 50 are its strongest backers.
In a significant political coup for Premier Jay Weatherill, the move also appears to have expanded his appeal among people who consider themselves Coalition voters.
While Labor voters back the prospect of a nuclear waste facility 47-40, Mr Weatherill is threatening to lure away some of the 59 per cent of Liberals who endorse storage.
The full poll results
Former Governor Kevin Scarce last week released his long-awaited report on expanding peaceful aspects of the nuclear industry that examined the risks and benefits of greater involvement.
It all but ruled out nuclear power and enrichment for the state on commercial grounds, but found there could be a huge financial and economic benefits from high-level waste storage.
Mr Scarce found there are possible revenues to the state of $5.6 billion a year on average for the first 30 years, and about $2.1 billion a year over the following 43 years.
The state would earn an estimated $257 billion over the life of the project, with $145 billion to be spent on waste management as well as construction work which would create jobs.
Up to 5000 jobs are estimated to be created during the 25-year construction of a deep underground waste repository, along with 600 fulltime jobs once it is operational.
Bruce Wilson from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, with simulated low-level radioactive waste drum. Picture Campbell BrodieThe industry could create a state wealth fund of $445 billion over 70 years, the commission found. It is expected to be at least a decade before the industry could be established and waste and revenue could be received.
Environmentalists have in turn raised concerns about damage to the image of SA’s agricultural and food industries, as well as the danger of accidents in transport and storage.
Leaders of both major political parties, state and federal, have pledged to keep an open mind on the topic and say further analysis of the risks as well as more community debate is needed.
The poll results will hearten nuclear advocates, ahead of the Royal Commission’s final report to be released on May 6 and a State Government response due before the end of the year.
Mr Weatherill has said both political consensus and community consent are non-negotiable if the state is to expand its role in the nuclear fuel cycle and agree to international waste storage.
Reports provided to the Royal Commission propose that it eliminate inappropriate sites across the state on weather and geological grounds, before calling on communities to volunteer as hosts.
However, current controversy over a separate proposal for a low-level nuclear waste dump to house materials including clothing exposed to radiation shows that will be a tough ask.
Angry Kimba residents have vented frustration at the Federal Government in public meetings after their town delivered two of six sites on a national shortlist to take the low-level waste.
Responses on a possible high-level waste site storage site show country residents are sceptical.
Forty-three per cent of regional South Australians oppose the idea, outnumbering the 41 per cent who support it. The most stridently opposed group to nuclear storage of those surveyed is in the regions, where 29 per cent of respondents are “strongly opposed” to the idea.
The poll of 474 SA residents was taken between Thursday and Sunday.