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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Is the current Code out of date?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.

Graham Tiller

Submitted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 20:07

In the event of a nuclear waste dump incedent eg. fire flood earthquake leakage accident, all persons within a 500km radius of the dump must be fully compensated by the gov. for there loses until such time that contamination, health and livelihoods are restored.
All dumps to be on gov. land, controlled by the gov. and put on arid waste land eg. WOOMERA PROHIBITED AREA. Basic common sense really.


Submitted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 20:24

Continuous lies, change of guide lines, half truths proper gander misleading information have been a issue through the whole process period in kimba. And of course the 2 mill. bribe and the 10mill. bigger bribe . Not much for the destruction of a ounce perfect safe and prosperous community . Greed somes it up, its all about the money.

Greg Bannon

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 14:11

ILRW is a matter of fact. Code should change to allow disposal of Australian generated waste. Cease current NRWMF search for LLRW and temp storage of ILRW site. Start new bi-partisan discussion & involve groups like ACF to define national need for 1 site to dispose of all types of Australian generated radioactive waste. First priority use C'Wealth land or degraded uranium mining land. Stop targeting small isolated vulnerable communities.

James & Cindy Shepherdson

Submitted: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 11:37

We feel very strongly that there should be no consideration at all of having any type of radioactive waste stored on agricultural land. ARPANSA also needs to take into consideration the social ramifications of any proposed site on any populated, productive land.

Janet Tiller

Submitted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 18:27

Nuclear waste and food producing districts do not mix. I say no.
The whole process is flawed and one sided. The guidelines keep changing when the outcomes don't suit what the government are seeking.

Joan Boylan

Submitted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 15:27

Why do South Australians have to carry this burden? We pride ourselves with a clean green reputation and will fight this divisive process and dangerous illegal poison coming across oceans, through our ports or across our sacred country.
South Australians have already made it clear that we do not want nuclear waste here. We spent $!0 million of our taxes to run a citizens jury and the vote was overwhelmingly NO.
Leave the waste at Lucas Heights where it is secure.

Julia Henderson

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:40

Justine Major

Submitted: Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 16:01

There is no mention of the impact of this facility upon existing industries when undertaking site selection. I feel there needs to be an inclusion of a clause (perhaps at 3.1.29 of the Code) along the lines of "sufficient evidence is provided that the cohabitation of this facility with existing industries will have minimal negative impact on existing industries". This evidence needs to be relevant to Australia, not international equivalents.

Leon Ashton

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 11:38

Please see attached