Two tonnes of nuclear waste are next year to be shipped from the UK to Australia, as debate continues over a national storage facility.
The shipment of four 500kg canisters inside a forged steel container called a TN-81 is part of a waste swap deal with the UK.
The waste is to be stored temporarily at Sydney’s Lucas Heights facility, before being sent to the national radioactive waste management facility that the Australian government plans to build near Kimba, South Australia.
In 1996, Australia sent spent fuel rods from its Hifar reactor — the predecessor to the existing Opal multi-purpose reactor — to the UK to be recycled into fuel for nuclear power plants.
Next year, the “radiologically equivalent” waste is to be sent to Australia under a waste repatriation project.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation said that it successfully repatriated radioactive waste from France to Australia in 2015 and that TN-81s have been successfully used in 180 nuclear shipments around the world.
The government said that Lucas Heights does not have the room, so it plans to commission a dump.
It settled on a site at Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia, but that plan has been deeply divisive.
A ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission found that more than 60 percent of people in the Kimba council area supported the facility.
However, the traditional owners, the Barngarla community, have said that many were excluded from that ballot because they lived outside the council area.
In a separate ballot, Barngarla voters unanimously rejected the dump site proposal.
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