The government’s April 2018 ‘Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework’1 reports total ILW at 1,770 cubic metres (m3), with 95% by volume arising as federal government wastes.

The federal government plans to produce a further 1,960 m3 of ILW over next 40 years, with 95% (1,850 m3) arising from ANSTO’s reactor operations – all to be trucked into SA for indefinite above-ground storage at either Kimba or Hawker.

All of these federal government nuclear waste plans face serious obstacles and community opposition. They are illegal under state law in SA; are in breach of formal advice of the Nuclear Safety Committee to the federal regulator ARPANSA2; and do not represent International Best Practice.

The import, transport, storage and disposal of ANSTO nuclear fuel wastes were prohibited by the SA Liberal government in 2000; then in 2002‒03 the incoming SA Labor government extended the legislation to cover other radioactive wastes. Yet the federal Coalition government intends to override state law to impose nuclear wastes onto SA.

Advice provided to the CEO of ARPANSA by ARPANSA’s ‘Nuclear Safety Committee’ in Nov. 2013 states that:

“International best practice points to the need to have in place a policy and infrastructure for final management and ultimate disposal of waste before activities generating waste commence.”

“[T]he dual handling and transport process associated with interim storage does not represent international best practice”

“Dual handling also has implications for security.”

More recently, in Nov. 2016, the Nuclear Safety Committee advised the CEO of ARPANSA on the “ongoing requirement to clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along transport routes” and the Committee said that such engagement is “essential”.3

However, in an arrogant, flawed process, the federal government named port cities in SA as required ports to take shipments of nuclear waste in a report4 posted on the internet but failed to even inform the targeted communities and their local councils.

The story broke on Southern Cross TV on Aug. 6. The next day the ABC quoted Port Pirie’s Mayor saying Council was “blind-sided” by the federal government position to potentially require Port Pirie as a nuclear waste port. On Aug. 9 the story ran on p.1 of the Whyalla News, with the Whyalla Mayor saying Council won’t accept this.

Communities in Whyalla or Port Pirie ‒ and in Port Augusta which was named on a number of potential required nuclear waste transport routes ‒ face “complete shutdown” in transport of nuclear wastes through their cities but have been excluded from having a say by this federal government.

The federal Coalition government must stop this untenable nuclear waste threat to compromise safety and security in SA and accept extended storage of ANSTO nuclear fuel waste and ILW at Lucas Heights.

As the alternate federal government, the ALP is yet to say what they may do if elected in 2019.

More information: www.nuclear.foe.org.au/noonan

References:….

  1. www.radioactivewaste.gov.au/sites/prod.radioactivewaste/files/files/Australian%20Radioactive%20Waste%20Management%20Framework.pdf
  2. www.arpansa.gov.au/sites/default/files/legacy/pubs/nsc/nsc_iwsadvice.pdf
  3. www.arpansa.gov.au/sites/default/files/legacy/pubs/nsc/nrwmf-stakeholder-engagement.rtf
  4. https://prod-radioactivewaste.industry.slicedtech.com.au/sites/prod.radioactivewaste/files/60565376_NRWMF%20Site%20Characterisation%20Technical%20Report_Wallerberdina_20.07.2018_FINAL_Optimized.pdf

Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction