Successive governments have failed to deliver a solution to managing radioactive waste while continuing to produce and indeed increase the production of waste. We have a responsibility to manage Australia's inventory of waste to the highest possible standards. The focus of finding a solution rather than just a location should begin with the Government upholding its commitment to community consent.
A process not a postcode
There are no long‐term storage solutions for nuclear waste, which is why the Australian Greens believe that nuclear industry activities should be ceased entirely.
The Greens will continue to stand up against the idea that Australia should become the world's nuclear waste dump. Each nation must responsibly deal with their nuclear mistakes, not transport their toxic waste 'out of sight out of mind.'
The old parties have legislated to impose nuclear waste upon unwilling communities across Australia.
For over two decades the remote Aboriginal communities have been targeted to host the nation's nuclear waste. The Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta senior women in South Australia and the Traditional Owners from the Muckaty region in the Northern Territory have defeated plans to impose radioactive waste on their lands.
It is essential that Australia's disgraceful history of targeting Aboriginal communities to host our 60-year legacy of spent reactor fuel is never repeated again.
The Greens propose the Commonwealth Government immediately establish an independent inquiry on Radioactive Waste Management to undertake a deliberative process that is procedurally fair, scientifically rigorous, and properly informed.
Nuclear the wrong question
We have some major hurdles ahead of us on nuclear waste. We need to safely manage the existing nuclear waste accumulated across Australia. We need to consider waste minimisation strategies so that we are not locked into a never ending search for waste storage options. We must protect Australia against the growing threat of becoming the world's repository for the highest levels of nuclear waste known on earth.
Australia has a long history of failed plans to locate national nuclear waste dumps, plans that have disproportionately targeted Aboriginal land. Coercive attempts to dump radioactive waste on unwilling communities do not work. That is the experience here in Australia and internationally.
Instead of simply asking 'which remote location is most suitable for dumping radioactive waste' we should be asking what is the most appropriate way of managing and isolating various categories of nuclear waste and how can we minimise the production of nuclear waste.
National nuclear waste
A long-term waste management solution needs to take a considered and evidence based approach. This would best be achieved by holding an independent Inquiry into national radioactive waste production and management, with input from civil society stakeholders as well as people with expertise in engineering, social science, environmental science, community consultation, radiation and medicine.
International Nuclear Waste
There is a renewed push for the storage of international high- level nuclear waste in Australia. The economics of these proposals are deeply flawed; the benefits to Australia have been grossly over exaggerated and the long-term risks ignored. The waste from nuclear power is the most dangerous and long-lived waste known. No country in the world has been able to establish a high level nuclear waste disposal facility. The inability to contain nuclear waste overseas is a reason for Australia to stop supplying uranium, not a reason to impose it on the Australian environment and public.
What you need to know
Nuclear waste remains dangerously toxic and radioactive for generations.
Australia's nuclear waste is made up of
- 4020 cubic metres of so‐called low‐level and short‐lived intermediate radioactive waste;
- Approximately 600 cubic metres of long lived waste in this country; and
- 32 cubic metres of spent research reactor fuel that is returning to Australia from reprocessing in France and the UK in 2015.
- There are no long-term storage solutions for nuclear waste.
The Labor-Liberal preferred response to nuclear waste management is 'out of site out of mind' in the past this has meant targeting remote Aboriginal Communities.
The Greens have stood with Traditional Owners in South Australia and the Northern Territory to defeat those plans.
We need to move beyond the failed process of the past and make decisions on the management of radioactive based on science, community input and best practice.
That's why we have a fully costed plan for an Independent Inquiry on the Long-Term Safe Storage, Transport and Management of Australia's Radioactive Waste.