Frequently Asked Questions about managing the return of waste

 

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Q. Why couldn't the waste stay in France?
A. There are three reasons why this cannot happen. 
 
1. It is an accepted international principle that countries are responsible for the management of any nuclear waste that they produce. This is a fair and equitable way of dealing with the issue. 
 
2. Under the agreements the Australian Government signed up to in the 1990s, our country was obligated to ensure the Intermediate Level Waste in France is removed from France before 31 December 2015. 
 
3. Under French Law, La Hague facility is not permitted to reprocess spent fuel from other countries unless arrangements are in place for that country to take back reprocessed waste.
 

Q. Why was an interim-waste store built at Lucas Heights?
A. Under contracts signed by the Australian Government in the 1990s, Australia was obliged to ensure that the intermediate level waste was dispatched from France to Australia before December 2015. 
 
To meet this obligation, and subject to regulatory approvals, the ANSTO received the intermediate-level waste at its Lucas Heights campus. It will be kept at Lucas Heights, until establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility
 
ANSTO has 60 years of expertise in safely managing nuclear material and by-products, and is therefore able to safely manage the intermediate level waste on an interim basis until a national facility is sited and constructed.
 

Q. When will there be a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility?
A. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 was passed by the Federal Parliament in March 2012. There is now a process in place for the development of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
 

Q. Why couldn't the waste stay in France until the establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility?
A. Under contracts signed by Governments in the 1990s, The Australian Government was obligated to ensure the intermediate level waste was dispatched from France to Australia before December 2015. The National Facility will not be established until later this decade.
 

Q. Why can't the waste be kept at Lucas Heights permanently? 
A. The internationally accepted practice for the storage of intermediate level waste is that each country to manages it in a centralised national facility. This goal is being pursued by countries around the world with nuclear programs. 
 
There are more than 100 sites around Australia where nuclear waste is stored, and as with other countries, the best place to store that is in a national facility. 
 
Under Australian law, that national facility cannot be located at Lucas Heights. A facility of the size and type of a national facility is also not compatible with current and future land uses at Lucas Heights.