Australian government creates Radioactive Waste Agency

BHP’s Olympic dam mine in South Australia is the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world. (Image by Geomartin, Wikimedia Commons).

The Australian government announced the creation of a new Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA), which will work with stakeholders including waste producers, industry, the community, and government agencies, to best manage radioactive waste.

In a press release, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources said that from July onwards, ARWA will lead the process to deliver Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility near Kimba, South Australia. The facility will be purpose-built to safely dispose of Australia’s low-level waste and temporarily store our intermediate-level waste.

The Minerals Council of Australia said the creation of the agency is a positive step to support the development of the country’s nuclear industry

Following this announcement, the Minerals Council of Australia issued a statement saying that the creation of the agency is a positive step to support the development of a high-tech nuclear industry in the country.

“The new facility will play an important part in developing Australia’s nuclear technology expertise,” Tania Constable, the Council’s CEO, said in the media release. “Australia’s vast uranium resources and exports support zero-emissions power generation abroad and nuclear medicine and research at home.”

In Constable’s view, there is still more to be done.  

“Australia’s current ban on nuclear energy and technologies prohibits the development of significant new advanced nuclear industries, particularly affordable zero-emission 24/7 power supplies,” she said.

“In contrast, Canada – which has embraced nuclear technologies in addition to uranium mining – is a world leader with its nuclear sector employing around 60,000 Canadians in highly skilled, highly paid jobs.”

For the MCA, the new waste facility in South Australia along with the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency will be proof that nuclear technologies can be safely managed and supported by informed local communities.