The Hill End community refuses to be a nuclear waste dump site

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".

1 Million Women is empowering women and girls around the world to lower their impact on the planet. If you love what we do, please support our work by donating a couple of dollars. For the price of a cuppa, you can help us inspire millions more! (click to donate)

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.

Read this next: These inspiring women have engaged in important acts of civil disobedience for the environment

1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.

Anthea Batsakis Guest Writer, Former Social Media Intern Suggest an article Send us an email

Recent Blog Articles