Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s nuclear waste is best managed in interim storage at Lucas Heights, with an independent review on permanent disposal.

Australian Conservation Foundation overview comments on ANSTO Iintermediate Level Waste transport, 24 Aug 21,

The movement of long lived intermediate level waste from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel via multiple (rail-ship-road) transport platforms and across half the world is a significant logistical exercise with environmental and security risks and the proponent accepts (2.10) that the planned activity is a nuclear action under the EPBC Act.

This is a matter of high public interest and elevated scrutiny is important given that ANSTO is the proponent and not a disinterested party.

ANSTO’s assurances of ‘negligible impact’, a ‘very unlikely’ impact probability and ‘high levels’ of certainty and reliability need to be assessed, not merely accepted.

The proponents commitment to public consultation (1.13) is not consistent with the clear security limitations (1.2) and further places information control with the proponent, without a wider transparency mechanism.

The 2015 shipment of waste saw controversy and allegations of deficiencies in the transport ship (see attachment). ANSTO’s assertion that this will be ‘conducted by an experienced nuclear transport logistics provider’ (1.2) requires further scrutiny and verification. A June 2021 report (see attachment) iby the UK based NFLA (Nuclear Free Local Authorities) found that: The International Maritime Organisation should consider improved regulation on shipping that is transporting nuclear materials as part of other mixed shipments. The level of accidents in this area is alarming, and the NFLA is really concerned a major accident could cause significant and dangerous implications for communities…

ANSTO is not accurate in stating that the proposed action is not part of a staged development or a component of a larger project (1.15). The Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework (April, 2018) confirms that the Commonwealth is the only jurisdiction in which spent fuel is managed. Clearly this ILW is a key component of the federal government’s current, and contested, National Radioactive Waste Management Project and should be seen in this wider framework.

This is a complex operation with multiple variables and exposure/risk pathways that requires enhanced attention

  • ANSTO is the proponent and its assumptions need to be tested
  • The 2015 shipment was dogged with controversy around the credibility and adequacy of the transport ship and this area needs further attention
  • The planned activity is part of a wider project – the National Radioactive Waste Management Project
  • The high level of public interest and concern is best addressed through increased scrutiny and transparency
  • If this ILW transfer occurs this material should remain secured at ANSTO until a credible future management approach is agreed

The best environmental outcomes would be facilitated through enhanced assessment consistent with the environmental protection intent of the EPBC Act.  ACF strongly supports an open, wholistic and  independent review of Australia’s radioactive waste strategy.

ACF maintains that Australia’s ILW is best managed through extended interim storage at ANSTO, coupled with a dedicated options review into future management options. In the absence of a clear future management pathway there is no radiological or public health rationale for moving this ILW from a facility with high institutional control assets to a less resourced regional facility.

August 24, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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