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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Is the current Code out of date?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.

Margie & Butch Eckermann

Submitted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 21:20

We are totally opposed to a radioactive waste facility being built near Kimba, or at Wallerberdina in the Flinders Ranges. Radioactive waste is not “guaranteed” safe. The process for storing radioactive waste in our communities continues to cause stress and division. Please consider the mental health of our community members opposing this project. We were told this facility would not be forced on an unwilling community, and we say NO. Broad community support needs to be clearly defined.

Marty & Rachel Yates

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 11:45

ARPANSA needs to make the mental health and wellbeing of community a priority in the code and not just consider the potential exposure to radiation as a health risk.
The code defines 'community' and discusses 'consultation' but there is no mention of 'broad community support' anywhere. A set figure to clearly define how much support is needed should also be included.
NO type of radioactive waste should be stored on agricultural land.

Medical Association for Prevention of War, Australia

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 16:00

Michele Madigan

Submitted: Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 15:45

ARPANSA has an important role during the Federal Government’s current plans for radioactive waste disposal. The Department has not engaged in the proposed sites (Flinders Ranges or Kimba) in a genuine way. The Department has acted only as an eager proponent - persuasive funds causing severe community disruption
I have witnessed public servants defending unscientific safety arguments #3329: unrealistic short timeframe claims for radiation danger contrasting with ARPANSA'S 10,000 years #1553

Mnemosyne Giles

Submitted: Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 23:03

I Object. ARPANSA is untrustworthy changing type of dump after 2 years of cruel & immoral (using bribery) consultation. Of course they know what they are doing. Changing the dump to include ALL types of disposal opens the way for deep disposal and an international dump as has always been on the agenda (as recommended eg. by Richard Yeeles) There is no permanent solution to IL & HL Waste (active over 10,000 years). Nuke Ind denies health effects. Moratorium on mining & production not a dump!!!!!!

No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 16:46

We believe absolutely NO type of radioactive waste should ever be disposed on agricultural land. This is referenced at clause 3.1.29.a. This clause needs to be made mandatory not optional.
There is no reference to broad community support. We believe this to be a vital component when selecting a site and needs to be included in the code with a clearly defined figure.
Health focus is only on radiation exposure with no consideration to how this affects communities mentally & emotionally.

Noel Wauchope

Submitted: Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 18:57

I ATTACH DOCUMENTS. This Code now applies to all types of disposal facility - higher level nuclear wastes planned. Includes reprocessed nuclear wastes returned to Lucas Heights, from France, where they are classified as High Level Wastes.
Container safety - no detail given With no existing final repository, these containers will become STRANDED The dangers of transporting wastes over 2000 km are completely ignored. The COMMUNITY defined as just local, area not worth it for agriculture

Sue Woolford

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:42

Susan Andersson

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 15:50