A Royal Commission inquiry has found out that if Australia stored and disposed nuclear waste used by other countries and utilise it in its various projects, it will reap revenue worth $275 billion for the nation.
The commission stated that a South Australian nuclear dump could store 13 percent of the world’s waste, which will further help it to meet a “global need,” thereby making it operational 10 years later. The commission’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle inquiry discovered that in case South Australia takes part in the nuclear fuel cycle development, it would get maximum benefits.
The commission’s report came following the bipartisan approach made by Federal Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Labor’s Shadow Resources Minister Gary Gray. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the approach supported a separate project to search for a proper site that could initiate low-level radioactive waste in a process. The backing of such a proposal has roused hopes of gaining support for this huge storage facility as well, which has been recommended by Commissioner Kevin Scarce’s royal commission.
Scarce said that there were 390,000 tonnes of nuclear waste of high-level were available from inventories worldwide, while almost 10 million cubic metres of intermediate-level nuclear waste products were available. Both high and intermediate level of waste were derived from nuclear power generation. He confirmed SA has the capacity to take 13 percent of the waste from around the globe.
“Nations have not been able to find a disposal solution that meets their geology,” the ABC quoted him as saying. “National consensus is that deep geological storage is the right solution for spent fuel, kept isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years.”
Scarce said that South Australia could take contracts from nations that buy its uranium to store nuclear wastes as a part of “fuel leasing” concept. He added that 30 percent of uranium is produced in Australia, of which 801 percent is that from SA.
Conservative Council SA Chief Craig Wilkins took the findings of reprocessing fuel positively, but refuted the nuclear storage proposal at the same time. “If we pursue a nuclear waste dump path, we are saying the best we can do is accept the worst the world has got,” he said as quoted by The Guardian.
“The royal commission presents an optimistic view of potential profits from offering Australia as the world’s nuclear waste dump. It acknowledges that nuclear waste needs to be isolated from the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years yet there is no attempt to cost the management of waste over those timeframes,” Wilkins said.