Parliament passes National Radioactive Waste Bill

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill has passed through the Federal House of Representatives.

The purpose the Bill is to amend the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, and give effect to the government’s commitment to establish a single, purpose built National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

“Governments have been attempting to find a solution to this issue for decades and today our government has taken a significant step in bringing the process to a conclusion,” Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said.

The legislation will confirm a site near Kimba in South Australia as the home for the facility.

“The site was one of 28 across the country that was voluntarily nominated, followed by extensive engagement and consultation with the surrounding community that has shown broad support for the project,” Pitt said.

“There has also been extensive engagement with other stakeholders during this process, including with Traditional Owners.”

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young disputed Pitt’s claims, stating that the facility does not have broad community support.

Hanson-Young added that communities living along potential transport routes had not been consulted.

“The Greens referred the legislation to a Senate Inquiry for scrutiny of the laws and the process that led to this point,” she said.

“That Inquiry has not yet reported, nor has it held hearings in affected communities.”

The legislation will now head to the Senate, with Pitt calling on Labor and cross-benchers to support the project.

“Suggestions that a site in the Woomera area could be used for the facility are simply not practical due to the increase in Defence Force training activities that will limit access to the area,” he said.

“The passage of this Bill, and the construction of the facility, is crucially important to the future of nuclear medicine in Australia, which will benefit two in three Australians.”

Hanson-Young is urging Labor to reconsider their support for the bill before it reaches the Senate.

“South Australians have already said no to nuclear. Today, every South Aussie should be asking why their elected representatives from the major parties have refused to listen to them,” she said.

In a statment released earlier this year, then Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine.

“Nuclear medicine is used in the diagnosis of a variety of heart, lung and musculoskeletal conditions and treatment of specific cancers,” he said.

“This medical waste, along with Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings, is currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, like science facilities, universities and hospitals.”

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