The overnight transport and export through Sydney of spent nuclear fuel rods from the Lucas Heights reactor again highlights the lack of an integrated and evidence-based national approach to radioactive waste management, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.

ACF Nuclear Free Campaigner, Dave Sweeney, said the material being shipped to France was ‘boomerang waste’ and the Federal Government had not solved the complex management issues with nuclear waste, merely bought some time.

“The material is set to be reprocessed in France where recovered uranium and plutonium will remain. The long-lived intermediate level waste will be returned to Australia,” Mr Sweeney said.

“There is no Federal Government process to identify the best place and method to manage this waste – some of which requires isolation for periods of up to 10,000 years.

“The Federal Government is currently attempting to find a site in regional South Australia where it can dispose of low level waste and store intermediate level waste until a long-term management decision is made.

“The South Australian dump plan is strongly contested, with many in the affected local communities joining national environment, public health and wider civil society groups in calling for the Federal Government to demonstrate why extended interim storage of waste at a regional site makes more sense than extended storage at Lucas Heights, which enjoys superior security, staffing, monitoring and response capacity.”

A Senate inquiry into issues about the planned waste dump in South Australia will take evidence from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in a hearing in Canberra on Thursday August 2.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.