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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, public and community consultation and technical assessments over 6 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 the site

More than 40 sites across Australia were volunteered. After assessing site characteristics, Napandee, near Kimba in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, was declared as the site to host the facility. 

Site Declaration: statement of reasons

Read Minister Pitt’s statement of reasons for the Napandee site declaration.

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. These factors are described below.

Safety and regulations

The facility will permanently dispose of low-level radioactive waste and temporarily store intermediate-level radioactive waste.

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 Australian 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.

Cultural heritage

The government recognises and respects that Aboriginal peoples have an ongoing cultural, spiritual and physical connection to Country. We will explore the cultural heritage of areas affected by ARWA site activities in partnership with the Aboriginal communities connected to that land.

Our work will continue to build on the preliminary cultural heritage investigation undertaken during the site selection phase.

We will connect with knowledge holders who can share information about the site. Their participation during the Cultural Heritage Assessment (CHA) will ensure it highlights cultural heritage areas that need management and protection.

We will work with the Traditional Owners to develop an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the acquired land at Napandee. The plan will outline initiatives to:

  • protect Aboriginal culture and heritage
  • provide future opportunities for local Aboriginal communities near the facility.

Environment

During the technical assessment phase for each nominated site, we assessed the environmental impact.

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.

We also commissioned an independent economic analysis for the local Kimba community. The analysis included the potential economic impacts on agriculture, employment, and property value.

Facility land requirements

Following the site characterisation and cultural heritage studies, we identified the need for a larger buffer zone around the facility.

Read about facility land requirements, including revised estimates and information about each zone.

Consultation

We consulted with the Kimba community including local residents, landowners, business owners and traditional owners. We asked for feedback and advice on key aspects including:

  • site design
  • environmental monitoring
  • jobs
  • business opportunities.

We’ve held many information sessions, including:

  • 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 data through public submissions and surveys throughout the site selection process.

See how the communities had their say and read the public submissions on our Consultation hub.

Read more

Contact us

  • Email radioactivewaste@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: 11 February 2022

Content ID: 64607