Community safety

The Government will complete detailed environmental assessments as part of the regulatory licencing and approvals processes under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.

All waste materials at the facility will be solid, immobilised and isolated from the environment through multi-layered encasement such as concrete, glass or synthetic rock.

Isolation and control measures are further implemented by engineered multiple barriers in the facility. This will ensure no single failure can lead to a situation where the environment can be compromised. The facility will follow the lead of other best practice operations in Australia and the world in terms of environmental protection.

You would get a higher dose on a long distance plane trip than you would standing next to the facility

Seismic activity

The project will be guided by the expertise of Geoscience Australia on issues related to seismic activity.

The facility’s engineering design will be informed by a site-specific seismic hazard assessment. 

Geoscience Australia is an impartial Australian Government agency with specialist knowledge regarding earthquakes. It uses national-scale earth observation equipment to gather information. 

The seismic profile at the only site in the technical assessment stage so far, Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, South Australia, is similar to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. It’s an area whose seismic profile is moderate by Australian standards.

There are no known active faults in the area of Wallerberdina Station

Transport

The community will not be put at risk by the transport of materials to the site.

The nuclear industry is one of the most regulated industries in Australia. Radioactive material in Australia has been transported over the past 40 years without the release of radiation harmful to the environment, health or safety. On an annual basis, more than 30,000 packages of radioactive material and waste are transported safely around Australia, including to up to 250 hospitals and medical centres around the country and region, again without incident.

Each movement of materials to the facility will require a full safety assessment, which will need to be approved by Australia’s radiation transport regulators. All waste will be inspected and tested to ensure it complies with the facility’s waste acceptance criteria before it is transported. Only solid, dry, non-organic, non-corrosive, non-volatile and immobilised materials will be transported to, and stored at, the facility. Radioactive material will be transported by the safest possible means, which could range from specialised containers to appropriate types of trucks. In the case of intermediate-level waste, this will be moved in significantly shielded containers.

Australia complies with the Code of Practice for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material as set out by ARPANSA. The code of practice adopts the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Regulations of the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2005 edition.

Terrorist attack or war

Security measures around any radioactive waste management facility will be designed to mitigate a range of threats based on advice from relevant government security agencies.

While the terrorist threat in Australia persists, terrorists globally have shown no propensity for an attack on a facility of this nature.

Waste materials will be stored in multiple layers of concrete enclosures, synroc or in vitrified glass inside approved storage containers. These waste forms do not generate heat or pressure and are not combustible or explosive. Gaining access to the waste would be extremely difficult and this type of facility is unlikely to be a desirable terrorist target.

The low-level waste is not itself inherently dangerous and would not be useful in terms of posing a credible risk to a community.

The intermediate-level radioactive materials even if somehow exposed would require highly specialised equipment to be utilised for more than a few minutes without seriously harming the handler. Any exposed materials, which would remain immobilised in glass, synroc or concrete, would not pose a material threat to health beyond a moderate radius well inside the facility boundaries.

The facility is not considered to be of any real military value and would be highly unlikely to attract specific attack.