Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Massive cask of nuclear waste to arrive in Sydney

Monolithic cask of nuclear waste to arrive,  https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7559502/monolithic-cask-of-nuclear-waste-to-arrive/

Monolithic cask of nuclear waste to arrive,  https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7559502/monolithic-cask-of-nuclear-waste-to-arrive/Tracey Ferrier   

A monolithic steel cask designed to withstand an earthquake and a jet strike will arrive in Sydney next year, carrying two tonnes of radioactive waste.

For security reasons authorities won’t say when the hulking capsule – containing four 500kg canisters of ‘intermediate-level material’ – will arrive from the UK.

But it will hardly be an inconspicuous affair: the cask itself weighs 100 tonnes and resembles something from NASA’s space program.

Its forged steel walls are 20cm thick, it’s 6.5m long and three metres wide.

Back in 2015, when the first cask of its type arrived, it was carrying 20 tonnes of Australian nuclear waste that had been reprocessed in France.

About 600 police and security officers were involved in the mission to truck it from Port Kembla, near Wollongong, to Lucas Heights, the southern Sydney suburb that serves as the country’s nuclear technology hub.

It is safe to assume that next year’s arrival will involve an equally elaborate, high-security operation.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation operates the Lucas Heights compound.

It was home to the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR), which supported nuclear medicine and science before it was closed in 2007 and superseded by the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor, also at Lucas Heights.

The waste that’s due to arrive in 2022 is from HIFAR’s operations and ANSTO says the material is being “repatriated” under the international principle that countries must be responsible for their nuclear leftovers.

However what’s coming won’t actually be what is left of the 114 spent fuel rods HIFAR sent to the UK for reprocessing in 1996.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation operates the Lucas Heights compound.

It was home to the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR), which supported nuclear medicine and science before it was closed in 2007 and superseded by the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor, also at Lucas Heights.

The waste that’s due to arrive in 2022 is from HIFAR’s operations and ANSTO says the material is being “repatriated” under the international principle that countries must be responsible for their nuclear leftovers.

However what’s coming won’t actually be what is left of the 114 spent fuel rods HIFAR sent to the UK for reprocessing in 1996.

“Specifically it’s not the material we sent, it’s an equivalent, almost swapping the material that came from reprocessing our waste, for equivalent material that was produced at another UK site.”

Mr Griffiths says the UK had to demonstrate that what will be sent to Australia is “within the measurement boundaries” of the accepted definition of intermediate level waste, which can remain radioactive for thousands of years.

ANSTO also had to satisfy the national regulator on that point.

While saving money wasn’t the objective, Mr Griffiths says the waste exchange agreement means taxpayer-funded ANSTO will save $12 to $13 million in shipping costs.

ANSTO’s Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio has promised the cask’s arrival will be a “routine and safe operation”

“This will be the second repatriation project and 12th successful transport of spent fuel or reprocessed waste which ANSTO has carried out since 1963,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“For all of the obvious and standard security reasons, we can’t comment on the specific route or timing of this transport.”

The new cask will sit alongside the original one at Lucas Heights until Australia’s new national nuclear waste storage facility is constructed at Napandee, near Kimba, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

The facility is up to the design phase and is being contested by Indigenous owners, so the casks are likely to remain at Lucas Heights for a number of years.

Once Napandee is operational, the casks will be moved there and stored, pending a final solution that will involve deep burial.

Australia’s radioactive waste results from nuclear medicine, research endeavours and industrial applications. Australia does not produce nuclear power.

December 21, 2021 - Posted by | New South Wales, wastes

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