Facility operations

It is expected the facility will be operational for 100 years. The planned footprint of about 40 hectares is sufficient to accept all of Australia’s low-level radioactive waste during this time based on projected activity levels.

The bulk of the low level waste will decay within 100 years. Some of the material will have longer half-lives and may take 200-300 years to fully decay. Because of this the facility will be monitored for 200 to 300 years after it has stopped receiving waste.

Off-site processing

Waste materials will be subject to off-site processing at the source before transport to ensure it meets strict waste acceptance criteria for the facility and to make sure the waste is safe and secure for transport. This will also avoid the transport of non-compliant material.

Additional on-site packaging will ensure the material is set into the appropriate final disposal form. This may involve repacking of some waste depending on its nature and source.

Intermediate-level reprocessed waste inside the TN81 containers will not be repackaged or opened in any way at the site. It will be left in the container and moved once a disposal solution is identified.

Waste Acceptance Criteria

The Waste Acceptance Criteria, shortened to the acronym WAC, is a strict set of rules to specify the acceptable parameters relating to the physical form of the waste, maximum levels of radioactivity, packaging requirements and what types of waste is excluded from the facility.

 

Any waste to be stored, or disposed of, at the NRWMF, will need to comply with this set of criteria prior to transport to the facility. This will ensure that the waste is safe and secure for transport, and avoid the receipt of non-compliant material at the facility.

The criteria will be developed in an iterative process in conjunction with the development of the safety case, involving input from the Barndioota Consultative Committee to ensure mutual understanding of the reasoning behind the agreed criteria.

State, Territory and local Government involvement

As an Australian Government facility established on Commonwealth Land, the facility will not be subject to the direct regulation or approval of State and Territory or local Governments.

The Australian Government will ensure the design and operation of the facility will meet, or in most cases exceed, any operational or building code requirements within the local jurisdiction. All relevant environmental and safety data associated with the site will also be made available to ensure transparency and assurance.