SA Shallow Burial of More Reactor Waste

January 25, 2001

Federal Industry Minister Nick Minchin today announced a site for the National Radioactive Waste Dump in South Australia. The announcement comes hot on the heels of a strong community protest (22/01/2001) against radioactive waste shipments from Sydney’s existing Lucas Heights reactor. Friends of the Earth has again drawn the connection between plans for a new reactor and nuclear waste dumping in South Australia.

To clear the decks for a new reactor the Federal Government is trying to:

  • Export reactor rods (to return as “intermediate level” waste)
  • Find a site to store returned intermediate level waste
  • Find a site to bury the existing reactor and its “low level” waste

Nick Minchin has denied the relationship between the reactor and the National Radioactive Waste Repository (Low Level Waste Dump) in South Australia. The Minister has continually claimed that the dump is a responsible management of Australia’s low level waste:

“Australia's low level waste, which includes hospital, research and industry waste which is currently stored at over 50 sites around Australia including hospitals and research institutions in our cities……

Friends of the Earth have today highlighted that:

  • The existing reactor is responsible for almost half existing low level waste
  • A new reactor would generate 75% of future low level waste each year
  • Hospital and research waste from States and Territories makes up only 2.7% of existing low level waste

“This flies in the face of continued statements that the low level waste dump is for hospital waste” said Bruce Thompson Nuclear Campaigner. “Minchin has mislead the community; ultimately its an old reactor and more waste that he wants to dig a hole for in South Australia.”


National Radioactive Waste Inventory - A Shallow Burial of the Facts

Existing LLSLILW Waste
ANSTO - Production 1080 m3 29.3%
Reactor Decommission 500 m3 13.6% 42.9%
State / Territory 100 m3 2.7%
Defence 60 m3 1.6%
CSIRO* 1950 m3 52.8%

*Note: CSIRO waste is already managed in above ground storage in Woomera SA.

Future Generation of LLSLILW Waste:
New Reactor 30 m3/year 75%
State / Territory 5-10 m3/year 17.5% *est at 7 m3/year
Defence < 5 m3/year 7.5% *est at 3 m3/year

*Note: The ultimate disposal of the planned reactor would add a further 400-500 m3

Figures taken from National Radioactive Waste Repository Site Selection Study Phase 3 A Report on Public Comment June 1999, Commonwealth of Australia p. 47

For further information contact:

Bruce Thompson
Ph: (03) 9419 8700
Mob: 0417 318 368