Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Minister pays tribute to innovative project.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Return to previous page


Tuesday 27 February 2001                01/078   

GREENS WRONG ON NUCLEAR WASTE  The Australian Greens have today in Federal Parliament demonstrated complete confusion and a lack of knowledge about the storage of radioactive waste in Australia.

Greens Senator Bob Brown is scaremongering and unnecessarily raising concern within the community about the transport of radioactive material in Australia by suggesting waste from the Lucas Heights Reactor could be flown "from Bankstown Airport - six kilometres away from the reactor - to the Woomera storage facility."

Senator Brown is confusing two separate storage facilities.

Firstly, the preferred site for the low level repository in the Woomera Prohibited Area will get solid low level waste out of hospitals and universities and store it safely in a purpose-built, below-ground respository.

The majority of Australia's low level waste - CSIRO's contaminated soil - has been stored above ground in a hanger at Woomera since 1995 when the Keating Labor Government trucked it out there in the dead of night without any community consultation.

The storage of intermediate level waste generated by the Lucas Heights Reactor is an entirely different issue.

Last August I announced a separate search process for an intermediate above ground store. This facility will hold intermediate level waste generated by Commonwealth agencies and will be sited on Commonwealth land.

The spent fuel from the Lucas Heights reactor and its replacement is and will continue to be sent overseas for reprocessing, and will be returned to Australia for storage as intermediate-level waste from 2015.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has advised that waste returning to Australia from 2015 will be transported by sea to a port located near the intermediate level store and would then be transported by road or rail, and not by air.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the regulatory body responsible for licensing all Commonwealth nuclear facilities at each of the siting, construction and operating stages.

Transportation of waste will be considered by ARPANSA as part of that licensing process as well as during the rigorous environmental assessment process.

All radioactive material transported in Australia must be packaged, handled and transported in accordance with stringent guidelines in the Code of Practice for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Substances (1990) as well as relevant State and Territory safety regulations. 

The Code is based on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, which are recognised and applied internationally. The exact type of containment will depend on the form and level of activity of the waste to be transported. 

Contact: Jen Eddy, Senator Minchin's Office, 02 6277 7580 


Return to previous page