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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

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.

Site Declaration: statement of reasons

Read the details of Minister Pitt’s declaration of the nominated site at Napandee [PDF 699KB] [DOCX 124KB]

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 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

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:

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.

Environment

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

Read the site characterisation reports:

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:

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:

Facility land requirements

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

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

Community consultation

We sought feedback and advice from the communities involved in the site selection process on key aspects, including:

  • site design
  • environmental monitoring
  • jobs
  • 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 how the communities had their say and read the public submissions we published on our Consultation hub.

See all the printed materials we provided to communities during the site selection process.

ARWA’s team continues to engage with nominated communities.

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: 29 November 2021

Content ID: 64607