Part 3: Case study 3 - Our role in the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) is responsible for the site selection process to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF). ARPANSA is responsible for the licensing of any future national radioactive waste management facility, such as that proposed by the DIIS.
While ARPANSA’s formal role in this project does not commence until the receipt of a site licence application, we have been proactive in our community engagement activities in South Australia (SA) in accordance with international best practice.
The Federal Government has shortlisted three sites as possible locations to establish a NRWMF in SA, two in Kimba and one in Hawker. The proposed NRWMF would provide a centralised location for the disposal of Low Level Waste and storage of Intermediate Level Waste generated in Australia.
During the 2017–18 financial year a number of ARPANSA staff, including CEO Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson, visited regional SA to undertake informal engagement activities with affected communities. The first visit took place in December 2017 where the team conducted their first official visit to Kimba, 158 km south-west of Port Augusta, and their fourth official visit to Hawker, a town 110 km north-east of Port Augusta. ARPANSA staff visited the region again in March 2018.
The visits included drop-in sessions and group meetings. The meetings were held to provide community members with an opportunity to raise issues and ask questions regarding the proposed NRWMF. ARPANSA staff provided communities with information on a number of important aspects relating to the proposed NRWMF, including but not limited to:
- ARPANSA’s role
- the licencing process and our requirements
- waste acceptance criteria
- elements important to the safety case.
The visits provide ARPANSA the opportunity to reiterate our purpose, that being the protection of human health and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation, and to stress that ARPANSA will only licence a facility if we are confident that it would not have an adverse impact on human health or the environment.
While ARPANSA has no formal position on the proposed NRWMF, we will continue to make ourselves available to answer questions with the intention of being open and transparent about our decision-making processes and providing assurance to the communities regarding our independence as the Commonwealth regulator.
By maintaining a visible presence in the region, ARPANSA hopes to be informally engaging community members, including finding out about any relevant site local knowledge which will be important should a licence application be received from the DIIS.