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South Australia will house Australia’s radioactive waste management facility

The Federal government has announced that South Australia will be the host of Australia’s national radioactive waste management facility.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan announced the decision in early February that Napandee in Kimba is the preferred location for the facility.

“I am satisfied a facility at Napandee will safely and securely manage radioactive waste and that the local community has shown broad community support for the project and economic benefits it will bring,” Canavan said.

About 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine which, on average, one in two Australians will need during their lifetime, according to a statement by the government.

Nuclear medicine is used in the diagnosis of a variety of heart, lung and musculoskeletal conditions, and treatment of specific cancers.

This medical waste, along with Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings, is currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, such as science facilities, universities and hospitals.

It is Australian government policy and international best practice for this material to be consolidated into a purpose-built facility, where it can be safely managed.

In 2015 the Federal government began a process to find a suitable site for the facility before deciding on Napandee. The site had to be volunteered by a landowner, technically suitable, and have broad community support from nearby residents.

A community ballot undertaken in December 2019 indicated that 61.6 per cent of voters in Kimba support the proposal.

However, concerns were raised about potential agricultural impacts. But Canavan said that experience around the world is that waste and agricultural industries can coexist.

“I will ensure there is ongoing support for the community and that future planning and development for the facility proceeds in a respectful way.”