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Managing radioactive waste

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Australians benefit enormously from nuclear medicine and research activities. Around 2 in 3 Australians will use nuclear medicine in their lifetime. With these benefits comes a responsibility to safely manage our radioactive waste.

Currently, Australia’s radioactive waste is stored in more than 100 locations around the country. Australia needs a single, safe, purpose-built radioactive waste management facility.

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility site

The department is responsible for establishing a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012. The selection process for a suitable site involved community consultation and technical assessment over 4 years.

In January 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.

Read about the site selection process or how communities had their say.

Facility concept design 

See a description of the concept design

Radioactive waste management

The facility will:

Radioactive waste management involves:

  • treatment, conditioning, transportation, storage and disposal
  • administrative, operational and safety-related activities

The Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework sets out the principles, responsibilities and goals for managing Australia's radioactive waste throughout its life cycle.

For more information on radiation levels and waste management, visit the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) website.

Community benefits

The facility will be a new industry for the host community and will attract an injection of local investment. In addition to funding, the community will see job opportunities and improved infrastructure.

Community Skills and Development Package

A Community Development Package of up to $31 million will be available for the host community. This package includes:

  • $20 million community fund to provide long-term support for the region
  • $8 million of grants to strengthen the economic and skills base of the host community
  • $3 million from the government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy will support the delivery of an Aboriginal Economic Heritage Participation plan

Community Benefits Program

The NRWMF Benefit Program provides funding to each community to acknowledge their contribution to the project. Sporting clubs, community organisations, and projects focused on tourism, health and more have been funded.

Jobs opportunities

The facility will need staff for:

  • security
  • safety
  • waste operations
  • site management
  • community outreach
  • environmental monitoring
  • administration

Based on staffing levels in similar facilities elsewhere, the NRWMF will provide at least 45 jobs.

Infrastructure improvements

The facility may require upgrades to surrounding infrastructure, benefiting the broader community. Infrastructure that has been assessed as part of the site characterisation studies includes water, power, communications, transport and waste.

Community consultation

Community consultation is an important part of the NRWMF project. The taskforce has a dedicated team to engage with the local communities on all aspects of the proposed facility.

Consultative committees

We have consultative committees and Economic Working Groups in Kimba and Wallerberdina. The committees act as conduits between the department and the local communities. The working groups aim to ensure the communities benefit from economic opportunities.

Public ballots, surveys and submissions

Throughout this process, we sought community sentiment through public submissions. We also facilitated community ballots, and business and neighbour surveys.

Consultation is now closed. See how the community had their say.

Read more

Connect with us

Contact us

  • Email
  • 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

See also

Last updated: 2 July 2020

Content ID: 47013