By Enice Marsh, Adnyamathanaka
Recently, six sites had been proposed as the Australian nuclear waste dump, at the end of April 2016, it was narrowed down to one, the foot of the Flinders Ranges, home of the Adnyamathanha people in South Australia.
The land was nominated by former Liberal Party Senator, Grant Chapman and his nomination has been endorsed by the Liberal government in Canberra. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners have not been consulted about the dump site, even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station were not consulted. The Adnyamathanha people extended an invitation to Minister Josh Frydenberg back in March to come and consult the Traditional owners. They challenge him on his claims that this waste is just “gloves, goggles and test tubes” who has white washed and downplayed the seriousness of intermediate-level waste and its toxicity to land, animals and people.
The Adnyamathanha people have been fighting the anti-nuclear fight since the late 90’s to stop the Beverley Uranium Mine and now in 2016, face another struggle to try and stop their sacred lands being turned into a toxic, radioactive uranium dump-site.
We spoke with Aunty Enice Marsh, traditional owner of the proposed nuclear waste dump site. She was feeling physically sick by the announcement and could not understand how this was still happening to black people in 2016. The proposed site sits less than half a kilometre from an Aboriginal Protected Area, a land that is a sacred women’s site that has a lush, blue-bush gum lined creek that runs through the centre of the area, bordering with the proposed site. It has springs and waterfalls which are extremely spiritual to the Adnyamathanha people, water that flows through the hills and floodplains; the same sacred life-force which has been continually stolen by surrounding farm lands as a result of white pastoralism.
Aunty Enice said that the place where the site is proposed is so sacred because of its dreaming, the place of creation, the Urngurla Yarta; a most spiritual place. She wants to share the following with our readers;
“This predatory behaviour is unethical and is an abuse of human rights. An Indigenous Protected Area is a Federal Government initiative, but it seems that in the case of Yappala this means nothing to the government. We ask you to honour this commitment to protect, not pollute and damage our land. This facility will cause immeasurable damage to the whole area which is covered with thousands of artefacts, home to people, animals, birds and reptiles. The building of this facility will cause widespread damage. It will scar the area and break the spiritual song-lines like never before in the 60,000+ years of human occupation. We do not want this waste in our country, it’s too toxic and long lived.”“we don’t want it on our land. We know what happens with Radioactive Fallout- you don’t need to be a scientist to know that stuff is no good. They are ripping our country apart and we don’t want it. Nothing. Never”.
She is determined to fight the dump site but acknowledge that the whole process is tearing their community apart and gradually destroying the old people. The whole process has become so deeply political and the colonialist agenda of conquer and divide within the community is having its impact. It disregards their sacred lands and the wellbeing of Aboriginal people in their pursuit of a better life, ultimately upholding the colonialistic traditions of profits above people.
Aunty Enice explained that government is taking advantage of already vulnerable people in trying to garner support for the mine with promises of cash, however she believes that no amount of money can compensate for the loss they will feel if the project goes ahead. Women are speaking up for this sacred country and have the full support of the men.
Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner, Jillian Marsh revealed: “The First Nations people of Australia have been bullied and pushed around, forcibly removed from their families and their country, denied access and the right to care for their own land for over 220 years. Our health and wellbeing compares with third world countries, our people crowd the jails. Nobody wants toxic waste in their backyard, this is true the world over. We stand in solidarity with people across this country and across the globe who want sustainable futures for communities, we will not be moved. We challenge Minister Josh Frydenberg on his claim that this waste is just “gloves, goggles and test tubes” – the intermediate-level waste is much more toxic so why not talk about it? What about the damage to the area that construction of this site will cause? You can’t compensate the loss of people’s ancient culture with a few dollars.”
Although the announcement is shocking and new, the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners are determined to fight this all the way and need the support of the broader Aboriginal community to get behind them. Developments of the campaign can be found on at http://www.anfa.org.au and on the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance Facebook page.