A large building with four rollers doors all shut surrounded by safety poles.

The safety case is the collection of scientific, technical and administrative information about the safety of a facility for storage or disposal of radioactive waste.

ARPANSA is responsible for the licensing of any future National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. A licence application must include a safety case.

The safety case must clearly demonstrate that the proposed facility meets the objective of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998, which is to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation. It must also comply with all legislative and regulatory requirements, and reflect international best practice.

The development of a safety case begins in the planning stages before a licence application is made and must be kept current until the facility closes.

It must provide clear information on design, plans and procedures and include a summary in plain and non-technical language.

What are the key considerations of a safety case?

Four circles side by side with arrows between each circle. First circle - plant - 'siting'. Second circle - wrench and screwdriver - 'design/construction. Third circle - gears - 'operation'. Fourth circle - shield - 'decommission/closure'.

Key considerations of a safety case include, but are not limited to:


  • Natural environment such as soil, land and water
  • Local produce, native plants and animals (and their use)
  • Extreme natural events such as earthquakes, flooding and bushfires
  • Infrastructure such as transportation, communication systems
  • Radiation levels in the environment (radiological baseline)


  • Facility design
  • Type, characteristics and amount of waste
  • Access controls
  • Physical security
  • Surveillance


  • Operational limits and conditions
  • Environmental surveillance and security controls
  • Transport of radioactive waste to the facility
  • Safe management of radioactive waste
  • Accident and emergency planning


  • Decommissioning of the storage facility
  • Post-decommissioning radiological survey report
  • Final closure plan
  • Post-closure radiological impact statement

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