Australia has neither commercial nor military nuclear programs, but its long involvement with nuclear science, nuclear weapons tests and uranium mining has left a legacy of radioactive waste, the management of which has proven a tough policy nut to crack. This chronology – originally published in January 2006 and revised in January 2008 – outlines the history of radioactive waste management in Australia.
This chronology outlines the history of three main strands of activity. They are the management of:
• radioactive medical, scientific and industrial waste, particularly through attempts to create waste repositories for relatively low-level wastes presently housed at dozens of sites around the country
• spent nuclear fuel from Australia's research reactor at Lucas Heights near Sydney, and
• site contamination from British nuclear weapon's tests conducted in South Australia in the 1950s.
This chronology does not address the history of wastes associated with uranium mining.