After a consultation and technical assessment process spanning more than four years, Napandee in Kimba, South Australia has been identified to host Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan said he was satisfied the facility at Napandee would safely and securely manage radioactive waste.
“In coming weeks, I will introduce legislation that declares Napandee to be the site of the facility, and establishes a community fund to support Kimba in hosting the facility,” he said.
According to Mr Canavan, 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine which, on average, one in two Australians will need during their lifetime.
“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.”
Mr Canavan said it is Federal Government policy, and international best practice, for nuclear material to be consolidated into a purpose-built facility, where it can be safely managed.
“The facility will be capable of permanently disposing of low level waste and temporarily storing intermediate level waste for decades (while a separate intermediate level waste disposal facility is developed),” he said.
In 2015, the Federal Government began the process of finding a suitable site for the facility, which will create 45 jobs and be delivered alongside a $31 million Community Development Package.
“Three broad requirements were relevant in assessing potential facility sites. They had to be volunteered by a landowner, technically suitable, and have broad community support from nearby residents,” Mr Canavan said.
“Based on these technical assessments and community sentiment indicators, I have identified 160 hectares at Napandee to host the facility.”
Mr Canavan said the announcement concluded a significant step in a consultation and technical assessment process that would continue for years, as the facility is designed and delivered.
“This will include further site-specific technical and regulatory approvals, and close work with Aboriginal communities to identify and protect any heritage” he said.
“The facility has broad community support in Kimba, but I acknowledge there remains opposition, particularly amongst the Barngarla People and their representative group.”
Mr Canavan also acknowledged concerns over potential agricultural impacts.
“Experience around the world is that waste and agricultural industries can coexist, but we will work to provide more assurance,” he said.
“After a sustained effort from outside anti-nuclear groups, I also acknowledge submissions from people who do not live in Kimba demonstrated concern about the facility proceeding. I will proceed with the project in a way that recognises and respects views of those who oppose the facility, including the Barngarla People and those with agricultural interests.”