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This community has raised their voice and proved that we don’t need to wait for legislation to make real change.
Image: A public meeting at Hill End via ABC News: Nick Dole
The historical gold rush town has been rattled by last year's announcement that it was one of six proposed sites for nuclear waste. Situated north of Bathurst, Hill End has a mountainous landscape with vernacular architecture that attracts artists from around the nation.
The designated area, Sally's Flat, is about 15 kilometres from Hill End and contains a cemetery and a Catholic church. As a town deeply entrenched with Australian history, playing host to the nuclear age seems a little misplaced. The community have openly wondered why the dump sites aren't relocated to places like the Simpson Desert or down old coal mines.
While any nuclear waste dumping site will spark controversy, the Hill End community's robust opposition has led to a successful and inspiring demand to be heard by the Federal Government. At a packed, public meeting, dozens of residents expressed their concerns about possible water contamination and the risk of nuclear waste transport.
I spoke with photographer and passionate member of the Hill End Council, Bill Moseley, and asked what he would say to the Federal Government if he could talk to them directly:
“I’d say, ‘What the hell are you thinking? It’s not just the case of ‘not in my backyard’, but the site is on an earthquake prone area - it comes up as narrow roads and snakes its way up past villages. School kids also come to Hill End, it’s bizarre.”
Moseley went on to explain how nuclear waste would be better dumped in an old coal mine, where many are served by a railway line and will be "a thing of the past".
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After hearing Hill End's persistent opposition, Federal Member for Calare, John Cobb, communicated the view to Minister for Resources, Energy, and Northern Australia - Josh Frydenberg – and told the ABC:
"I said, 'We are not going to be building this at Hill End' and he looked at me and I said 'The community is against it and they are not going to change their mind',"- Minister John Cobb
Now Sally's Flat has been ruled out as a potential dumping site with confirmation from the Federal Government, who passed a message to the community at a public meeting that the project will not go ahead without local support. However, some locals aren't fully convinced until they have received confirmation in writing from Minister Josh Frydenberg.
The proposed site was offered by the landowner who could receive as much as four times the land's market value. It would store low to medium level radioactive waste, predominately by-products of nuclear medicine.