Briefing paper

Radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel management in Australia

Nuclear energy Radioactive waste disposal Australia

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.


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