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Selecting a national radioactive waste site

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The site selection process for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) involved community consultation and technical assessment over 4 years.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce led this process in line with the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012.

The department committed to delivering the facility on a site volunteered by the owner, alongside a community that shows broad community support for hosting it.

We considered 3 sites:

  • Wallerberdina, 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 January 2020, the government identified Napandee 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 selection and will 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 facility will permanently dispose of low-level radioactive waste and temporarily store intermediate-level 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 licencing, 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 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.

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 accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The facility is designed to ensure environmental safety. We will undertake extensive environmental monitoring of the facility and report the findings.

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:

  • nuclear production and waste management managers from the 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 the decision, 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.

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: 12 November 2020

Content ID: 64607