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Thursday, 30 October 2003
Page: 17413


Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

(1) With regard to the proposed low level and short-lived intermediate level radioactive waste repository:

(a) who will be responsible for the transportation of radioactive waste to the repository;

(b) will the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) be responsible for the transportation of radioactive waste from the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights to the repository;

(c) will ANSTO be responsible for the transportation of radioactive waste from sites occupied by other Commonwealth agencies, state agencies or any private person to the repository;

(d) will the Commonwealth regulate the transportation of radioactive waste to the repository; if so, what legislation will the Commonwealth use;

(e) have any Indigenous groups consented to the construction and operation of the repository at the site known as Site 40a; if so, which groups;

(f) have any Indigenous groups stated that Site 40a has no particular Indigenous heritage values; if so, which groups;

(g) how many truckloads of radioactive waste are expected to be transported to the repository each year.

(2) With regard to the proposed long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste repository:

(a) will the Minister table a copy of the list of sites that are being considered for the construction of this repository by no later than 8 October 2003;

(b) will the Commonwealth require access to a port in order to receive intermediate-level radioactive waste for the proposed repository; if so: (a) which port or ports is the Commonwealth considering using;

(c) will the Minister table, by no later than 8 October 2003, a copy of the radiological consequence analysis, prepared by Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, in relation to Lucas Heights.


Senator Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) (a) The Department of Education Science and Training, as the organisation licensed by Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to operate the repository, will have ultimate responsibility for the transportation of radioactive waste to the repository. In most cases, the repository operator, the company contracted to DEST to manage the physical works associated with the national repository, will be tasked with arranging the transport by a contractor to the Australian Government of waste to the national repository in accordance with ARPANSA's regulatory requirements.

(b) DEST may allow Australian Government waste generators such as ANSTO to transport their own radioactive waste to the national repository. Alternatively, transport of waste from ANSTO may be undertaken via the arrangements described in 1(a).

(c) No.

(d) Yes. Transportation of radioactive material by the Australian Government and its contractors is regulated by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Regulations 1999.

(e) The site has been cleared for all works associated with the construction and operation of a national repository, with regard to Aboriginal heritage, by the Aboriginal groups with native title claims over the relative site as well as other groups with heritage interests in the region. These groups are the Antakirinja, Barngala and and Kokotha Native Title Claimant Groups, the Andamooka Land Council Association and the Kuyani Association.

(f) See answer to (e).

(g) During the initial disposal campaign it is estimated that there will be 171 truck movements to the repository from around Australia. In addition, approximately 200 truck movements will be required to transport CSIRO waste stored in the Woomera Protected Area to the repository. It is expected that about 40 m3 of waste will be generated in Australia each year and, allowing for accumulated waste over several years, only a few truck movements will be required for transport of the waste to the repository during subsequent disposal campaigns.

(2) (a) Following assessment of the Australian Government land around Australia for suitability for the national store for intermediate level waste, the National Store Advisory Committee, a group of experts advising the Government on site selection, provided me with advice on sites for further consideration. Such advice is of the nature of opinion, advice or recommendations for the purposes of the Government's deliberative processes and I believe that tabling the advice would not be in the public interest at this stage.

(b) Intermediate level waste arising from the reprocessing of spent fuel from the research reactor at Lucas Heights will be returned to Australia by ship and will require port access. Relevant port(s) will be considered when short-listed sites are selected for the national store.

(c) This analysis will not be released because it includes information which has the potential to compromise security at Lucas Heights.