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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Is the current Code out of date?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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File Draft - Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (RPS C-3)

Participate

Start
21 Dec 2017 - 09:00
End
2 Mar 2018 - 17:00
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The following formal submissions have been made public.

Tiffany Congdon

Submitted: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 10:44

I am 100% against this proposal and my mind will never change. This whole process has turned a once thriving, peaceful and friendly town into a town of fighting, taking sides and the friendliness has definitely gone. I was born and bred in Kimba and I loved the community but this whole dump idea and how the town has divided was not something I wanted for my family so a few months ago we moved and we are the happiest we have been in a long time. This has made such a damaging impact!!!


Toni Scott

Submitted: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 16:36

I believe the Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste should include a section on Community Support. It should state what % of support is required by a host community to gain social license for a facility to be built.
I believe that clause 3.1.29.a should be changed from a recommendation to a mandatory clause "No facility should be built on land that is suitable for agriculture"


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