About the potential sites
In 2005, under the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005, four potential sites, all located in the Northern Territory, were investigated for the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
On 15 July 2005, the then Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, announced three of the potential sites for the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The three sites were on Commonwealth land administered by the Department of Defence.
The 2005 Act incorporated an amendment to allow Aboriginal Land Councils in the Northern Territory, as well as the Northern Territory Government, to nominate additional sites within the Territory for consideration.
On 25 May 2007, the Full Council of the Northern Land Council announced that it had agreed to nominate a section of land on Muckaty Station, 120km north of Tennant Creek, for the facility. On 24 September 2007, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the then Minister for Education, Science and Training approved the nominated land as a potential site.
Potential sites considered for the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility:
The Fishers Ridge potential site, located to the east of Katherine and RAAF Base Tindal.
The Mt Everard potential site, located to the north-west of Alice Springs, adjacent to the Tanami Road. The site is part of the Jindalee Over the Horizon Radar Network.
The Harts Range potential site, located to the north-east of Alice Springs off the Plenty Highway. The site is also part of the Jindalee Over the Horizon Radar Network.
The Muckaty potential site lies on Ngapa land within the boundaries of Muckaty Station, approximately 120 km north of Tennant Creek.
Sites characterisation studies
In February 2009, Parsons Brinckerhoff finalised a series reports, on the preliminary site characterisation investigations for a Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility on four potential sites in the Northern Territory. For the results of these investigations and findings see Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005.
Generic concepts for the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility were designed to contain waste to ensure the protection of people and the environment.
Low level and short-lived intermediate radioactive waste
Two management options were proposed for low level and short-lived intermediate level radioactive wastes (hereafter referred to as 'low level waste'), with final choice subject to the characteristics of a chosen site.
Under the first option, low level waste was to be disposed of in a near-surface repository at a suitable host site.
A near-surface repository consists of a shallow trench, 15 to 20 metres below grade, in which waste is placed. Once the trench is full, at least five metres of cover is placed over the waste. The cover is designed to prevent the ingress of water into the disposal trench, and consists of materials such as clayey soil and plastic sheeting. A five metre deep cover also prevents the waste being exposed, during the time it remains potentially hazardous, as a result of natural processes such as erosion.
Under the second option, low level waste was to be stored above ground in a purpose built storage building.
Long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste
Long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste (hereafter referred to as 'intermediate level waste') is not suitable for near-surface disposal. Accordingly, the intermediate level waste concept was to store the waste in an above ground, purpose built store.
For more information about the Act, see Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 (repealed 2012).
For concept design images, see Related documents.