Royal Commission’s conclusions create middle-ground in the nuclear waste discourse

9 May 2016

The report of the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, made public today, has fundamentally changed the nature of the global nuclear waste discourse.

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association remarked, “If constructed, a multi-national waste facility based in South Australia would grant a welcome option for countries operating nuclear facilities today. Far from it being the case that there is ‘no solution’ to nuclear waste, we are seeing lots of progress – with some countries developing national repositories and now the potential addition of this viable alternative” 

The Commission has concluded “that the disposal of used fuel and intermediate level waste (ILW) could be undertaken safely in a permanent geological disposal facility in South Australia. This would have the potential to deliver significant inter-generational economic benefits to the community.” It has recommended that the South Australian Government pursues this opportunity.

A large multi-national waste storage facility would be a world first and should offer advantages in terms of siting and economics when compared to smaller national approaches. There are significant benefits on offer to South Australia for hosting such a facility, which must now work on building robust public and political support if the plan is to proceed.

Regarding the future deployment of nuclear power plants in the state, the Commission has, in short, recommended that the Australian government discard its long-standing anti-nuclear policies. While the Commission noted that nuclear power plants are not viable in South Australia under current market rules, it recommended “the South Australian Government pursue removal at the federal level of existing prohibitions on nuclear power generation…” and further, “that the South Australian Government promote and collaborate on the development of a comprehensive national energy policy that enables all technologies, including nuclear, to contribute to a reliable, low-carbon electricity network at the lowest possible system cost.”

The report marks the end of a comprehensive review of the available opportunities in the fuel cycle. The process lasted for over a year and the Commission consulted extensively before proceeding onto site visits and interviewing experts on topics such as radioactive wastes, reactor technology, etc. There has been a sustained commitment to transparency throughout the process, with responses and interview recordings made publicly available via the Commission’s website.

Rising commented, “Other governments, both inside and outside of Australia, which are considering introducing nuclear energy could really benefit from the wealth of high quality information that has been collected through the rigorous South Australian Royal Commission process.


The final report of the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission can be accessed here.

The World Nuclear Association’s submissions to the Commission and our press statement on the tentative findings can be found in the Public Consultations section and Press section of our website respectively.

The World Nuclear Association is the industry organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.

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