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National repository one step closer.



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PETER McGAURAN MP Commonwealth Minister for Science

Media Release

NATIONAL REPOSITORY ONE STEP CLOSER

7 July 2003

Federal Science Minister Peter McGauran, today welcomed the Federal Government’s acquisition of the national repository site, Site 40a near Woomera in South Australia and its associated access route.

"The safe disposal of Australia’s low level radioactive waste is now one step closer," Mr McGauran said.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration, Mr Peter Slipper, decided that the urgent acquisition of the land was required using the Federal Government’s Lands Acquisition Act 1989.

"The Federal Government has urgently acquired the site and access route because of the South Australian Government’s bid to frustrate plans to establish the national repository by introducing legislation designed to reserve the site as a public park.

"This was not our preferred approach. However, it was considered necessary to make sure the national repository can be established on the best site. The site has environmental approval and was selected after an 11-year, comprehensive nationwide search initiated with the agreement of states and territories, including South Australia.

"This exhaustive process contrasts with the South Australian Government’s failure to effectively deal with management of the state’s radioactive waste. South Australians still do not know how their radioactive waste will be managed in the long term," Mr McGauran said.

"It is in the interests of public security and safety in Australia to secure radioactive materials at a facility specifically designed for this purpose.

"Until a national repository is established, Australia’s low level radioactive waste will continue to be stored under ad hoc arrangements, far from international best practice in radioactive waste management.

The South Australian Government should demonstrate a responsible approach to radioactive waste management by admitting that the disposal of the state’s low level radioactive waste in a national, purpose-built facility is the best and most practical solution to the long term management of this material," Mr McGauran said.

"The final step to establish the national repository is to obtain licenses for the facility from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). Applications will be made shortly and the licensing process will provide a further opportunity for public consultation," Mr McGauran concluded.

Further information: Fiona McDonald (Minister McGauran’s office) 02 6277 7440 or 0419 622 915