The Federal Government has shortlisted six sites for further evaluation and public consultation for a permanent National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
Australia currently has the equivalent of around two Olympic-sized swimming pools of radioactive waste, which can include laboratory items, such as paper, plastic and glassware, and material used in medical treatments. More than 100 sites across the country, including hospitals and universities, are licensed to store this waste on an interim basis.
Earlier this year landholders across all states and territories were invited to nominate land for this facility to be built to dispose of Australia’s low level radioactive waste, with the capacity to store some intermediate level waste.
From 28 nominated locations, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, announced six shortlisted sites on 13 November. These are at locations near: Sally’s Flat, New South Wales; Hale, Northern Territory; Cortlinye, South Australia; Pinkawillinie, South Australia; Barndioota, South Australia; and Oman Ama, Queensland.
Each nominated site was subject to an objective, evidence-based assessment by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, reviewing each on technical, economic, social and environment factors.
Commenting on the progress of this , Minister Frydenburg said: “Australians benefit from the use of nuclear technology in many ways. One in two Australians will require potentially life-saving nuclear medicines, 85 per cent of which is produced at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation research reactor in New South Wales. Further, we all benefit greatly from the application of nuclear science in research, medicine and industry.
“These activities result in by-products which require long-term, responsible management. With this in mind, I welcome the commitment from landholders around the country to host this important site.”
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is now engaged in extensive 120-day consultation with local stakeholders with an interest in the sites. The government will use that feedback to inform the next phase of a detailed assessment, with an expectation of a final site being identified before the end of next year.
More information on the consultation period and site nomination process can be found on the National Radioactive Waste Management Project website.