New framework to guide management of radioactive waste

The Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework has been released by minister for resources and northern Australia, Matt Canavan.

Canavan said the document – developed by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science – would guide the principles, policies and institutional arrangements of radioactive waste management in Australia.

“This includes policy settings for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, which will permanently store Australia’s low-level radioactive waste and temporarily store its intermediate-level waste,” Canavan said.

“Importantly, the framework will also guide the development of a different, later process to establish a separate and permanent facility for intermediate level waste at another location.

“A new waste management function will be established later in the year, which will be responsible for coordinating and managing our waste holdings, policies and practices. One of its key activities will be to develop the intermediate level waste disposal pathway.”

The minister said Australia’s radioactive waste was largely associated with nuclear medicines, needed by an average of one in two Australians in their lifetime.

“Radioactive waste is currently stored in more than 100 locations around Australia, and work is underway to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, where it will be consolidated,” Canavan said.

“This framework will clarify governance arrangements and responsibilities, and the core requirements that come with establishment of a facility.

“Australia has benefitted enormously from our nuclear activities for 70 years, and with those benefits comes the responsibility to manage waste.”

The framework is reportedly the first of a series of documents to be released in 2018 as the government undertakes detailed technical and site assessments.