The search for a suitable location for a national waste management facility to permanently hold radioactive waste being produced at Lucas Heights has taken another small step forward.
Earlier this month, Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), was accompanied by Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce, on a trip to South Australia.
Three sites near two South Australian communities are currently being consulted on whether their area could be the right place for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
That facility will permanently hold disposal Australian low level radioactive waste and temporarily store intermediate level waste, currently spread across 100 locations across Australia, including at ANSTO.
ANSTO’s interim waste facilities hold low and intermediate level waste generated onsite, through research and the production of nuclear medicines that one in two Australians, on average, need in their lifetime.
The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility would consolidate all of Australia’s radioactive waste in a single, purpose-built facility, in line with international best practice.
Dr Paterson and Cr Pesce visited the communities of Kimba and Hawker on May 3 and 4, meeting with locals to discuss what it is like to work at and live near, a nuclear facility.
‘‘I would like to thank Cr Pesce for taking the time to come to South Australia, to share his experience of what it is like to be neighbour to a nuclear facility,’’ Dr Paterson said.
‘‘The mayor was able to offer his thoughts on the interaction between ANSTO and its local community, which was well received by the South Australian locals, some of whom have visited us during this process.’’
Cr Pesce also met with his local counterpart, Mayor of the Kimba Council Dean Johnson, and visited the Wallerberdina Station site, which is currently being considered for the facility.
‘‘It was great to meet another mayor, and to share the positive experience of having a nuclear facility in your backyard, with people who are considering doing something similar,’’ Cr Pesce said.
‘‘ANSTO is one of the largest employers in the shire, and we work alongside them on all manner of community projects.’’
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is running the process to find a facility.
ANSTO is involved in the consultation process as Australia’s home of nuclear expertise, providing expert advice on radioactive waste management.
The three sites – two in Kimba, and one at Wallerberdina Station – are in a detailed consultation phase, after the community was found to be broadly supportive of continuing the conversation.
Studies are underway to better understand the technical aspects of each individual site, which includes looking at seismic activity, groundwater, flora and fauna and more.
Extensive community consultation has been ongoing in the communities, which includes regular events with visiting experts, to provide information to the community and answer questions.