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PETER McGAURAN MP Commonwealth Minister for Science

Media Release


15 August 2003

The Australian Government has applied to the independent regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for the licence to construct and operate the national repository near Woomera in South Australia.

"The licence assessment will make certain the national repository will operate safely," Federal Science Minister Peter McGauran said.

"At present low level radioactive waste, largely generated for medical purposes including the detection and treatment of cancer, is being stored in hundreds of towns and suburbs across Australia.

"Until a national repository is established Australia’s low level radioactive waste will continue to be stored under ad hoc arrangements, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

"After more than a decade of scientific assessment and community consultation, I anticipate the national repository will be operating next year - subject to ARPANSA’s licensing requirements being met.

"The Government is committed to establishing the national repository at the best and safest site, for the benefit of all Australians.

"Market research conducted in South Australia this year supports the Government’s policy of siting purpose built national facilities, for the management of Australia’s small inventory of radioactive waste.

"74% of those surveyed supported management of radioactive waste in dedicated facilities. This is compared to 72% of those asked in a national survey in April 2001.

"In addition, more than half the South Australian’s surveyed, some 53%, agreed that storing radioactive waste safely was more important than where it is stored," Mr McGauran concluded.

See attached graph.

McGregor Tan Research April 2001 Worthington Di Marzio Research February 2003

Information about the licence assessment process for the national repository can be obtained from the ARPANSA website at . The research reports can be obtained via links from the Department of Education, Science and Training’s website at

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