Australia’s own Lucas Heights nuclear waste coming back – where to put it?

Australia Has Nowhere to Put Its Shipment of French Nuclear Waste VICE News, By David Wood July 13, 2014 In the second half of next year France will be sending nuclear waste to Australia for permanent storage. The waste comes from uranium and plutonium exported to France between 1999 and 2004 to run its nuclear power plants. It’s coming home because of an international agreement that states that Australia — as the nation of origin — must take the spent fuel back. This same agreement means we’ll also be taking waste back from the UK sometime before 2020.

Lucas-09The bulk of the French waste consists of unrecycled nuclear fuel mixed into molten glass to form what’s known as a durable product. This will be accompanied by six drums ofintermediate level refuse including gloves, protective clothing, and old equipment, embedded in cement. All this makes a total volume of about 13.2 cubic meters, roughly one third the size of a shipping container, with a half-life of 24,000 years.

Despite having known about this arrangement since the ’90s, Canberra now has just 17 months to build something deep, strong, and stable enough to house 14 tons of radioactive rubble. And to make matters worse, no one even knows where to put it.

In the second half of next year France will be sending nuclear waste to Australia for permanent storage. The waste comes from uranium and plutonium exported to France between 1999 and 2004 to run its nuclear power plants. It’s coming home because of an international agreement that states that Australia — as the nation of origin — must take the spent fuel back. This same agreement means we’ll also be taking waste back from the UK sometime before 2020.

The bulk of the French waste consists of unrecycled nuclear fuel mixed into molten glass to form what’s known as a durable product. This will be accompanied by six drums ofintermediate level refuse including gloves, protective clothing, and old equipment, embedded in cement. All this makes a total volume of about 13.2 cubic meters, roughly one third the size of a shipping container, with a half-life of 24,000 years.
Oscar-wastesDespite having known about this arrangement since the ’90s, Canberra now has just 17 months to build something deep, strong, and stable enough to house 14 tons of radioactive rubble. And to make matters worse, no one even knows where to put it.

The issue that brought the plan undone was that the government never properly negotiated with the land’s traditional owners. Muckaty has the overland telegraph built on it, has at times had cattle on it, as well as the Stuart Hwy across it. But for tens of thousands of years it’s belonged to the Warlmanpa Aboriginal people. That fact brought the issue to head in the Federal Court where it was eventually thrown out last month.

To celebrate, a party was thrown at Tennant Creek’s Nyinkka Nyunyu Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre for what was a reclaiming of land for its traditional custodians. During the event a 20-year old muso and Milwayi woman, Kylie Sambo, sang her song “Muckaty.”

“Don’t waste the Territory, this land means a lot to me,”she sang proudly. “Been living here for centuries. This place we call Muckaty.”

This sentiment makes sense to anyone who lives anywhere. Former NSW premier, Bob Carr, who comes from a markedly different background from Kylie, similarly resisted the waste being stored at Sydney’s Lucas Heights. “The Federal Government has got to look at locations that are remote, geologically stable, and dry,” he told Canberra back in 2005. “The optimal locations are going to be outside NSW.”

Both cases are textbook examples of the not-in-my-backyard philosophy. And as it turns out, if a long-term solution can’t be cobbled together before next December, the waste will most likely end up in Lucas Heights anyway — a fact which a whole new bunch of Sydney residents are now fighting………https://news.vice.com/article/australia-has-nowhere-to-put-its-shipment-of-french-nuclear-waste

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