Independent nuclear analyst David Noonan scrutinises South Australia’s nuclear waste import plan

Noonan, David

SA is targeted for five nuclear dumps and high level waste processing

Brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner

The Nuclear Royal Commission recommended SA pursue nuclear waste storage and disposal “as soon as possible” – requiring five waste dumps and a high level nuclear waste encapsulation processing facility.

 The Final Report Ch.5 “nuclear waste” and the Findings Report (p.16-20) are reliant on a consultancy “Radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities in SA” by Jacobs MCM, summarised in Appendix J.

SA is targeted for above ground high level nuclear waste storage, without a capacity to dispose of wastes, exposing our society to the risk of profound adverse impacts, potential terrorism and ongoing liabilities.

 The State government is in denial on the importance of nuclear waste dump siting by claiming social consent could be granted before we know what’s involved in siting up to five nuclear dumps across SA.

 Affected regions and waste transport routes are fundamental pre-requisites to transparency and to an informed public debate on potential consent to take any further steps in this nuclear waste agenda.

 First: a dedicated new deep sea Nuclear port is to receive waste ships every 24 to 30 days for decades, to store high level waste on site following each shipment, and to operate for up to 70 years.

The coastal region south of Whyalla and north of Tumby Bay is the likely location for this Nuclear port.

 South Australia is targeted for a globally unprecedented scale of high level nuclear waste shipments. Some 400 waste shipments totalling 90 000 tonnes of high level waste and requiring 9 000 transport casks are to be brought into SA in the first 30 year period of proposed Nuclear port operations.

This is in excess of the global total of 80 000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste shipped around the world in the 45 year period from 1971 to 2015, according to the World Nuclear Association report “Transport of Radioactive Materials(Sept 2015) and the Jacobs MCM consultancy (Feb 2016, p.152).

 Second: an above ground nuclear waste Storage facility is to take on approx. 50 000 tonnes high level waste before a Disposal facility could first start to operate in Project Year 28 (Jacobs p.5 Fig.3).

 SA is proposed to import high level waste at 3 000 tonnes a year, twice the claimed rate of waste disposal (Jacobs p.114), with storage to increase to 70 000 tonnes. The Store is to operate for up to 100 years.

 The Nuclear Commission budgeted to locate the waste Storage facility 5 to 10 km from the Nuclear port.

 The Nuclear port and above ground waste Storage facility are to be approved in Project Year 5, ahead of pre-commitment contracts for 15 500 tonnes high level waste in Year 6 and waste imports in Year 11.

South Australia needs to know the proposed region for siting the Nuclear port AND whether the nuclear waste Store is to be adjacent to the port (likely on Eyre Peninsula) or sited in the north of SA.

 Third: a Low Level Waste Repository for burial of radioactive wastes derived from all operations including final decommissioning of all nuclear facilities is proposed to be located in north SA. This Repository has a nominal waste burial capacity of 80 000 m3 of radioactive wastes (Jacobs p.144). This is some eight times the total scale of the proposed National Radioactive Waste Repository.

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