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Campaign against proposed nuclear waste site in Queensland gains momentum -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: A community group fighting to stop a nuclear waste facility from being built on the Darling Downs in Queensland has accused authorities of trying to bribe residents into accepting the proposal.

Organisers say opposition to the nuclear waste proposal is significant, despite what it's calling a "massive campaign" from the Federal Government to win over supporters.

From Brisbane, Courtney Wilson reports.

COURTNEY WILSON: The group Friends of Oman Ama was formed late last year, with one clear goal:

COLIN OWEN: We do not want Oman Ama to be the site of a nuclear waste dump in Australia.

COURTNEY WILSON: Dr Colin Owen lives in Inglewood, about 20 kilometres away from Oman Ama. He's been Inglewood's local GP for more than half a century.

And since last November, when the region was named as one of six potential sites for Australia's first permanent nuclear waste facility, Dr Owen has been campaigning against the proposal.

COLIN OWEN: The only real concern in all of this is radioactive leakage, radioactive spillage causing radioactive contamination of our environment and our people.

COURTNEY WILSON: He's also questioned the tactics used by authorities to garner community support.

COLIN OWEN: We've had senior public servants coming out here on a regular basis. This is their fourth visit to our town. They've been flying some of our residents down to Lucas Heights in Sydney, backwards and forwards, paying their accommodation, paying their transport.

There's a very large bribe element involved in this and I think quite a lot of the community members are seeing the dollar signs and not the potential contamination.

COURTNEY WILSON: On that point, the Mayor of Goondiwindi disagrees:

GRAEME SCHEU: It's not a bribe. There's no way in the world it's a bribe. It's an information session for people to go down and have a look.

COURTNEY WILSON: The Goondiwindi Council recently visited a nuclear waste storage site at Esk, in south-east Queensland.

GRAEME SCHEU: We're a lot more comfortable with the safety factor after we visited the Esk facility and had a very good yarn to Queensland Health who operate that intermediate waste facility.

COURTNEY WILSON: But the Council isn't officially for - or against - the proposal to store nuclear waste at Oman Ama.

GRAEME SCHEU: At the moment there's somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent that are strongly opposed to it. I think there's a similar amount that are in favour of it.

And I firmly believe that the other 60 per cent of the people left are probably in a position of: either they don't know, don't care or want more information.

COURTNEY WILSON: Representatives from the Federal Government were among those in attendance at the first public meeting held by Friends of Oman Ama last night.

The Department of Industry declined an interview, but released a statement saying it welcomed the chance to participate and will continue community consultation over the next few weeks.

Mayor Graham Scheu admits some residents already have their minds made up.

GRAEME SCHEU: This is dividing communities. Let's make no mistake about that. And it doesn't matter what process the Federal Government would have ever put in place, that would have happened.

COURTNEY WILSON: The results of an independent survey to gauge public opinion are expected to be released next month.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Courtney Wilson reporting.