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Selecting a national radioactive waste management site
The site selection process for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility has involved voluntary nomination, community consultation and technical assessments over 4 years.
The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce led this process in line with the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012. The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) is continuing this process.
Identifying a preferred site
We are committed to delivering the facility on a site volunteered by the owner, alongside a community that shows broad community support for hosting it.
More than 40 sites across Australia were volunteered. After assessing site characteristics, we considered 3 sites:
- Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia
- Lyndhurst, near Kimba in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
- Napandee, near Kimba in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
In February 2020, the government identified Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia, as the preferred site to host the facility. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 confirms this commitment.
Read the Minister’s assessment.
Site selection factors
A number of factors informed site identification and continue to guide the project. Independent regulators will provide approvals across all phases of the project, including siting, design, construction, and operation.
Safety and regulations
The nuclear industry is one of the most regulated in Australia. The construction and operation of the facility will follow strict safety and security policies.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the government’s primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety. It is responsible for independently regulating the use of radiation by Commonwealth entities, including licensing, compliance, inspection, and enforcement.
Australia is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency sets international standards for safely managing radioactive waste. The facility will adhere to these standards.
The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) ensures Australia’s international obligations are met. These obligations fall under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Australia’s NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA.
We are committed to protecting and promoting Aboriginal culture and heritage. Independent experts, in consultation with Traditional Owners where possible, undertook Aboriginal heritage assessments to identify areas of cultural significance around each site.
Read the cultural heritage assessment reports:
- Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Report: Wallerberdina Station
- Aboriginal Heritage Desktop Assessment Report: Kimba
We will work with the Traditional Owners to develop an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the selected site. The plan will outline initiatives to protect Aboriginal culture and heritage, and provide future opportunities for Indigenous peoples.
During the technical assessment phase for each nominated site, we assessed the environmental impact.
Read the site characterisation reports:
- Site Characterisation Technical Report: Wallerberdina Station
- Site Characterisation Technical Report: Napandee
- Site Characterisation Technical Report: Lyndhurst
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will assess and approve the selected site in accord with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The facility design will ensure environmental safety. We will regularly undertake extensive environmental monitoring of the facility and report the findings.
We will continue to consider climate, bushfire risk, underground and surface water, land use, flora and fauna.
Social and economic impact
We commissioned an independent study to capture social and economic information about the potential host communities. This baseline information will help ensure opportunities are harnessed and negative impacts avoided or mitigated.
Read the social baseline reports:
- Social Baseline Report: Kimba (Napandee and Lyndhurst)
- Social Baseline Report: Hawker/Quorn (Wallerberdina Station)
We commissioned an independent economic analysis in each community. The analysis included the potential economic impacts on agriculture, employment, and property value.
Read the economic impact reports:
- Economic Impact Report: Kimba (Napandee and Lyndhurst)
- Economic Impact Report: Hawker (Wallerberdina Station)
Facility land requirements
Following the site characterisation and cultural heritage studies, we identified the need for a larger buffer zone at each site.
We sought feedback and advice from the communities involved in the site selection process on key aspects, including:
- site design
- environmental monitoring
- business opportunities.
We’ve held many information sessions for members of nearby communities, including presentations from:
- nuclear production and waste management managers from ANSTO
- Aboriginal cultural heritage experts
- site suitability experts from Geoscience Australia
- radiation safety experts from Rio Tinto
- experts on nuclear science and medicine.
Our consultative committees and economic working groups acted as conduits between the department and local communities.
We sought community sentiment through public submissions throughout the site selection process.
In the lead up to identifying the preferred site, we also facilitated:
- community ballots
- business and neighbour surveys
See all the printed materials we provided to communities during the site selection process.
ARWA’s team continues to engage with nominated communities.
- Read how the ARWA will establish and operate the facility
- See all our radioactive waste management reports
- View our news and media statements
- Email radioactivewaste [at] industry.gov.au
- Phone 13 28 46
- Write to us at: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; National Radioactive Waste Section, GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601
Last updated: 23 June 2021
Content ID: 64607