Framework for Australia’s nuclear waste released

NEW framework for the management of radioactive waste in Australia aims to clarify the governance arrangements, responsibilities and the core requirements that come with developing a storage facility.

The framework was released on Wednesday by Minister for Resrouces and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

The document, which was developed by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), will guide the principles, policies and institutional arrangements of radioactive waste management in Australia.

“This includes policy settings for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, which will permanently store Australia’s low-level radioactive waste and temporarily store its intermediate-level waste,” Mr Canavan said.

“Importantly, the framework will also guide the development of a different, later process to establish a separate and permanent facility for intermediate level waste at another location.

A new waste management function will be established later in the year, which will be responsible for coordinating and managing waste holdings, policies and practices.

Mr Canavan said one of its key activities would be to develop the intermediate level waste disposal pathway

He said Australia’s radioactive waste was largely associated with nuclear medicines, needed by an average of one in two Australians in their lifetime.

“Radioactive waste is currently stored in more than 100 locations around Australia, and work is underway to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, where it will be consolidated,” Mr Canavan said.

“Australia has benefitted enormously from our nuclear activities for 70 years, and with those benefits comes the responsibility to manage waste.”

Mr Canavan said this was the first of a series of documents to be released in 2018 as the government undertook detailed technical and site assessments. 

The Framework and further information is available at www.radioactivewaste.gov.au