Australian news, and some related international items

Foreign nuclear waste headed to Australia

Yes, this article is nearly 2 years old, but, sadly it is so relevant today!

Fears for indigenous lands as foreign nuclear waste headed our way, Weekend Australian, JACQUELIN MAGNAY, LONDON

SEPTEMBER 17, 2018,  Australia is to receive a shipment of intermediate-level radioactive waste from Britain in the next three or four years despite concerns in Scotland that the nuclear material may end up dumped on traditional Aboriginal lands.

The Australian can confirm that the waste will be temporarily stored at Lucas Heights in Sydney, until the contentious new ­nuclear waste management centre is built, possibly at the South Australian sites of Hawker or Kimba.

But the waste will not be ­material from Australian spent fuel rods from the ­decom­missioned High-Flux Australian Reactor at Lucas Heights (which was originally generated from British-sourced uranium) and ­reprocessed at Dounreay, Scotland, in 1996.

Instead it is considered too ­expensive to move that low-level waste from Dounreay, and so the nuclear waste to be transported to Australia will be “substitution waste’’ from Sellafield in England, but of a higher radioactive level.

Glasgow environmental activist Gary Cushway, who helped stop a nuclear storage plant near Coober Pedy, said there was ­increased awareness in Scotland that Australia didn’t have ­adequate storage for intermediate-level waste. He said there were fears that the new nuclear waste management facility, said to be for low-level waste, would be recategorised retrospectively to handle the intermediate-level waste.

“Once the storage facility is built for the low-level, where will they put the intermediate-level waste? It has to go somewhere and many Aboriginal owners think it will be temporarily stored with the low-level waste until that temporary status becomes permanent,’’ he said. While the Australian radioactive waste in Dounreay is believed to total about 76 tonnes and is rated low level, the grading of the waste that will be shipped to Australia is of intermediate level, but there will be less of it. It is slated to be transported by 2022 at the latest.

Britain’s parliamentary undersecretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, Richard Harrington told Parliament – “……The radioactive waste, which arose from the processing (of the Australian fuel), comprises several tens of drums of cemented waste. The substituted radioactive waste will be in the form of four vitrified residue containers holding waste that falls within the ­activity levels of intermediate-level waste.’’

He said the waste would be stored at Lucas Heights and then temporarily “co-located’’ at the new nuclear storage centre.

Australia accepted a 130-tonne “TN81 cask’’ of reprocessed intermediate-level waste from France in December 2015, which required extensive road closures for its transport from Port Kembla to Lucas Heights. It also required special government dispensation for the Lucas Heights centre to temporarily store the intermediate-level waste…….

ANSTO anticipates that four to five casks of intermediate-level waste will need storing in Australia in the next 40 years, much of which will be the return waste from France of reprocessed spent fuel rods of the current OPAL ­reactor at Lucas Heights. About 7500 200-litre drums of low-level waste is also currently stored at Lucas Heights. …..

July 11, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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