Legislation confirms future of Australia’s nuclear industry

The Parliament of Australia has passed the legislation for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
A graphic depicts the aerial design concept for the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility design concept. Image credit ANSTO

Passage of the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 follows years of community consultation. It is a crucial step in the 40 year process to find an appropriate site for the facility.

The Australian Government included amendments to the Bill that:

  • reinstate the Ministerial site declaration process, as proposed by stakeholders including Opposition
  • provide legislative recognition of the shortlisted sites, which will focus any potential judicial review on the site declaration aspect of the process (rather than the lengthy historical nomination process).

This approach balances the need to:

  • enable judicial scrutiny of the site selection decision and an opportunity for parties to be heard by the courts, should they pursue that option
  • minimise, to the extent possible, further project delays that put stress on the affected communities and will impact Australia’s nuclear medicine production.

The government remains confident in the rigour of the process that led to the shortlisting of the 3 sites. This included extensive technical assessments and an extremely thorough assessment of stakeholders’ views, so we are open to further scrutiny on the site decision.

The Minister will consider all relevant information and may issue an ‘intention to declare’ a site from the approved nominations.

This process will also be another step towards a $31 million Community Development Package to support the local host community.

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