Published by The Guardian
By Tory Shepherd – 17 OCT 2022
The vast majority of Australia’s future radioactive waste will be produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) Lucas Heights facility in Sydney, the latest figures show.
For 40 years governments have pushed for a national radioactive waste storage facility, often claiming it is because currently waste is held at more than 100 sites across the country.
But the latest statistics show almost all of it is in that one facility.
A new inventory of Australia’s radioactive waste, published in September by the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, shows a larger than expected increase in waste in the future.
Australia’s waste is either low level (LLW), which is mainly from laboratories, or intermediate level (ILW), which is from nuclear medicine. ILW emits more radiation and requires more shielding.
There are many variable factors, but the report notes that “the estimated volumes of Ansto’s future LLW and ILW are substantially greater than previously reported”. It estimates the levels of LLW in 100 years and ILW in 50 years.
For LLW, that is a change in how future levels are measured. For ILW, it was a matter of having to revise existing estimates.