Nuclear Energy and Waste in Australia

Nuclear Energy and Waste in Australia

Australian law currently prohibits nuclear power generation. The only use of nuclear technology in Australia is for medical and research purposes. Australia’s only nuclear facility operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), is located at Lucas Heights in Sydney, New South Wales.

As a result of the medical and research nuclear processes, Australia generates low and medium level radioactive waste. Australia has implemented law and policy to manage this waste. Whilst Australia has adopted best practices under international obligations, debate continues around proposals for a centralised nuclear waste storage facility for the country.

Going forward, recent developments in the State and Federal arena suggest Australia is investigating further the possibility of the implementation of nuclear power generation, and it being a way to assist Australia in meeting greenhouse gas emission targets. However, this is not likely to occur in the near future.

This chapter considers the context of Australia’s energy production and use; Australia’s international obligations pursuant to conventions entered; the federal nuclear energy and waste legislation framework; recent developments specifically in relation to nuclear waste law; and recent reports which consider the future of nuclear energy in Australia.

The Australian Chapter was authored by Partner, Maureen Peatman, with the assistance of Associates, Jessica Baldwin and Arie van der Ley (now with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment).