While Australia hosts no electricity-producing nuclear power stations, it does have well-developed usage of radioisotopes in medicine, research and industry. About 45 m3 of radioactive waste arise from these uses and from the manufacture of the isotopes annually, composed of about 40 m3 of low-level waste (LLW) and 5 m3 of intermediate-level waste (ILW). As long-term storage is not considered a tenable option, a site in South Australia has been selected for construction of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF).

About 211 acres of land in the semi-arid, agricultural region of Napandee have been acquired for the NRWMF for the permanent disposal of LLW and temporary storage of ILW. Construction of the facility is expected to begin after detailed designs, technical and heritage studies are completed, with facility delivery and operation managed by the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) in Adelaide.

Artist’s impression of the NRWMF. Source: ARWAArtist’s impression of the NRWMF. Source: ARWA

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) said the development of a purpose-built, national facility is "crucial to ANSTO and its nuclear medicine and research activities, with more than 90% of the waste produced in Australia being linked to ANSTO's nuclear medicine production."

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com