West Australia site could house nuclear waste

West Australia site could house nuclear waste

A regional site in Western Australia regarded by experts as one of the best sites in the world for nuclear storage should be used instead of Napandee for the federal government's nuclear waste dump.

This is according to Peter Remta, the Executive Director of the Azark Project, who are developing an underground facility for the disposal of nuclear waste near Leonora in Western Australia.

Mr Remta said the site is within the Bardu Aboriginal peoples tribal land and is considered the best in the world for an underground disposal facility due to its geological structure.

"The Azark site is geologically and geophysically set in granite hard rock going from near surface to many kilometres in depth being a natural structure that has not moved," he said.

"It is a natural structure that has not moved for over two billion years which makes it ideal in every respect for the geological burial of nuclear waste."

The proximity to necessary infrastructure and amenities, access to a competent workforce, and high degree of security are other factors which Mr Remta says make Leonora an ideal nuclear waste storage site.

"The Azark Project has strong local community support including that of the Bardu peoples who are the ancestral owners of the land hosting the Azark site," he said.

"It is recognised that the project will lead to the economic growth of the Goldfields region with additional employment opportunities."

By contrast, Mr Remta said there were many issues with siting a Nuclear Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) at Napandee, near Kimba.

"The Napandee farm is in the heart of prime agricultural land, so there's a very real possibility of completely decimating the agricultural industry of the Kimba region and a large part of the Eyre Peninsula," he said.

Should this occur, Mr Remnta said it would go against all safety codes and prescriptions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

"Napandee is a completely unsuitable site to host the facility," he said.

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the government did not receive detailed information to independently assess a site at Leonora, and couldn't accept "unverified information" which could "cut short" the consultation and assessment process.

"Additionally, the communities around Leonora did not have the benefit of an in-depth consultation process, or the time to consider the details of the proposed facility," he said.

"This stands in contrast to other communities who have had the benefit of extensive consultation to assist them make an informed decision on any proposed NRWMF.

"The selection of a suitable site will be the culmination of extensive technical work and consultation undertaken over a number of years.

"As the government has said previously, the site for the facility will be in a community that has demonstrated broad support."

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) is currently undertaking a new tranche of work in 2021 to ensure that the facility and its treatment of agricultural industries remains best practice.

Some radioactive waste management facilities have been able to co-exist with agricultural communities, including in France, the United Kingdom and Spain.