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Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (RPS C-3)

ARPANSA is engaging in public consultation on the draft Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (Radioactive Waste Disposal Code).

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The Issue
Start/End Date: 
Thursday 21 December 2017 - 09:00 to Friday 2 March 2018 - 17:00

What is radioactive waste?

Radioactive waste is material with an activity content or concentration above a predefined level, for which no further use is foreseen. Disposal is the recognised end point for the management of radioactive waste under a hierarchy of waste controls; however, storage of some wastes for periods of tens of years is often a necessary precursor.

What is the exposure risk to the public and the environment?

Radioactive waste management includes the potential for people to be exposed to radiation during the operation and closure stages of a waste facility.  Therefore the operator must demonstrate that protection of people and the environment has been considered and that there will be minimal risk of any radiation exposure. In this regard, the operations and closure of waste facilities are regulated in the same way as any other radiation practice.

Is the current Code out of date?

Yes. Since 1992, the basis of regulation for the near-surface disposal of radioactive waste in Australia has been the requirements of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Code of practice for the near-surface disposal of radioactive waste in Australia (1992) (Radiation Health Series RHS No. 35).  Since the promulgation of the 1992 Code of Practice, there have been significant international advances in radioactive waste safety. For example, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has revised its radiation protection limits and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published a range of revised waste safety standards. These changes have been progressively reflected in other Australian standards and codes.

Australia’s system of radiation safety is now developed through the Radiation Health Committee (RHC), which was established under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998. The RHC is developing the Radiation Protection Series of publications, which will include the review and replacement, where appropriate, of existing publications in the NHMRC Radiation Health Series.

What’s changing in the new Code?

It expands the scope of the 1992 NHMRC Code to include disposal of solid radioactive waste in all types of disposal facility (not just near-surface disposal). The publication will inform potential applicants for a licence to dispose of radioactive waste in a disposal facility, other stakeholders and the public of the issues that will have to be addressed by the applicant. The Code describes objectives for protection of human health and of the environment, drawing upon international best practice in relation to radiation protection and radioactive waste safety.

The draft new Code is fully consistent with the disposal aspects of ARPANSA’s recently published Regulatory Guide Applying for a licence for a radioactive storage or disposal facility, and both are based on the IAEA Safety Requirements standard SSR-5 and on Australia’s national Code for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations (RPS C-1) (ARPANSA 2016). The ARPANSA Regulatory Guide provides information for Commonwealth applicants applying for a licence for a radioactive waste storage or disposal facility.

Introducing the Safety Case

An applicant is required to demonstrate that the proposed disposal facility will achieve the level of protection anticipated by this Code. They will do this by developing a ‘safety case’ that draws upon the organisational and technical arrangements put in place, the nature of the waste to be accepted, the characteristics of the site, the design of the facility including engineered barriers, and the arrangements for its construction, operation, closure and post-closure stages.

Is a Commonwealth regulatory impact statement required?

No. The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) advised ARPANSA that no consultation Regulatory Impact Statement was necessary for the version of the Radioactive Waste Disposal Code as the proposed Code does not substantially alter existing arrangements and will predominantly bring into effect internationally agreed best-practice standards that are deemed fit for the Australian context.

What will happen to the current Code?

As RHS 35 was a joint publication with the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, the predecessor of Safe Work Australia (SWA), formal agreement has been received from SWA to withdraw RHS 35 once the Radioactive Waste Disposal Code is published.

Making a comment

Comments can be made by completing the web form below, or by completing the submission template and emailing StakeholderCommentatarpansa.gov.au. All comments will be published within 7 business days of receipt. You have the option to remain anonymous by selecting 'Remain Anonymous' in the web form below. Comments made on submissions by other parties will not be published.

Submission template

Draft - Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (RPS C-3)

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21 Dec 2017 - 09:00
2 Mar 2018 - 17:00
Days Remaining 0 of 71

The following formal submissions have been made public.

Bright New World

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:52

Cameron Scott

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 16:55

It needs to be stated in the Code for Disposal of radioactive Waste that the Federal Government can not override state legislation for building a national facility. The code needs to include a clause protecting farming land from becoming home to hazardous waste. Licensing should require communities to nominate land not individuals.

Colin Mitchell

Submitted: Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 21:23

I am against changing the Code to include other types of disposal facilities such as the above-ground storage for Intermediate Level nuclear waste from Lucas Heights that the Federal Govt wants to locate at their proposed National dump. This higher-level waste which remains dangerous for thousands of years should stay at Lucas Heights where it can be securely monitored. No deep-disposal facility should be permitted either. No National dump should be built - all waste should stay where it is.

Colleen Guidera

Submitted: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 11:40

I am very much opposed to a Nuclear Waste Facility being built in the Kimba District or anywhere else in South Australia. Low level waste is hazardous for up to 300 years and Intermediate level waste is estimated to take tens of thousands years to decay. How can the Government guarantee it will be monitored? No amount of money or jobs is worth the stress and division in our community that the process so far has caused.

Conservation Council SA

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:45

David Noonan

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:54

Denise Carpenter

Submitted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 16:31

I am confident, after a lot or research on the subject, that ARPANSA is a regulatory body that will ensure that world best practice procedures will be stringently followed and adhered to and I am happy for a repository to go ahead in our area.
ARPANSA's stringent regulations will ensure safety is paramount both for nuclear storage and the wellbeing of everyone working or living in the vicinity.

Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future - South Australia

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:57

Graham Tiller

Submitted: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 22:00

BROARD community support. Set figure 70% and dont change it.
Completely transparent and fair process a must.Not the present pathetic process. Not to be on any agriculture aquaculture and horticulture areas of food producing land. Food and nuclear waste do not mix . Clean and Green
The yes / no vote should be the whole state not just one town.
Local vote to be 100km radius of nominated sites. Neighboring councils should be notified and have input .