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National Radioactive Waste Management Facility: Australian Conservation Foundation petition

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Media release

11 December 2019

The following can be attributed to a spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science:

“After three years of consultation with residents in Kimba, Hawker, Quorn and surrounds, consultation about the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility is coming to a close.

“The Flinders Ranges Council vote and submissions period both conclude on 12 December 2019, and neighbour and business surveys will be concluded by 19 December.

“During the final stages of this consultation process, some last minute points and questions have been made by interest groups.

“In response we provide the detail below, for people interested in the proposed facility.”

Transportation

“Radioactive material has been safely transported around Australia and the world for decades, with no accident resulting in a radioactive release that caused significant harm to people or the environment.

“For example, in December 2015, intermediate-level waste (ILW) from France was safely transported by road from Port Kembla in Wollongong through suburban Sydney to ANSTO.

“As another example, some 10,000 doses of nuclear medicine are transported to more than 250 hospitals and medical centres around Australia and the region each week on public roads and commercial flights.

“The transport of all radioactive materials is subject to independent regulatory approval and oversight by ARPANSA and, depending on their nature, potentially additional regulatory bodies.

Safety

“Throughout this process the communities have been told the facts on safety: radioactive waste is completely safe when managed properly, which it will be at this facility.

“This facility will be fully staffed, safe and secure for the length of its operation and monitoring, with the independent nuclear regulator, ARPANSA, overseeing that high standards are met.

“Also, the facility will operate for 100 years and then monitored for 200-300 years. It is not correct to say the facility will operate for thousands of years.

Types of waste

“The facility will permanently dispose of low-level waste (LLW) and temporarily story intermediate- level waste (ILW), which is currently held at several locations around Australia.

“The proposed facility will not permanently dispose of the ILW, which will be moved in several decades to an appropriate facility – likely a deep geological one – in a different location.

Storage at Lucas Heights

“By law, ANSTO cannot be the storage facility for radioactive waste currently spread over more than 100 locations around the country.

“In addition, it would not fit. The facility will have a 40 hectare footprint, where the ANSTO campus is 70 hectares is size and includes more than 80 research and medicine production buildings.

“ANSTO is only licensed by ARPANSA to store waste on a temporary basis, and on the condition that a plan is developed for removal of waste from the ANSTO Interim Waste Store (IWS).

Consultation

“The reason we are having this conversation at three sites in South Australia is because landowners there volunteered their land and surrounding communities broadly supported having the conversation.

“We have ensured that the local community that lives and works near the volunteered sites are well informed and there has also been national engagement in the process through last year’s Parliamentary inquiry and the current submissions process, which has been well promoted.

“Anyone in Australia can make a submission on the proposed facility. Public submissions are open until the 12 December 2019. All submissions are welcomed via email to radioactivewaste@industry.gov.au."

Read more

For more information on the project, visit our webpage on managing radioactive waste.

Media contact

Phone Phil McCall: 0438 619 987