A nuclear waste disposal facility in the South Australian outback would be viable and highly profitable, according to a new report by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.
The Commission has published its Tentative Findings into the opportunities and risks represented by increasing the State’s participation in nuclear fuel cycle activities.
Commissioner Kevin Scarce released the Tentative Findings document in Adelaide today, ahead of a five week feedback period.
“We have taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing our Tentative Findings to share with the community the evidence gathered into nuclear fuel cycle activities because we want South Australians to be involved in further refining, informing and improving the Commission’s report, which will be delivered in May,” he explained.
The key observations that frame the Commission’s Tentative Findings include that:
- South Australia can safely increase its participation in nuclear activities and, by doing so, significantly improve the economic welfare of the South Australian community
- Community consent would be essential to the successful development of any nuclear fuel cycle activities
- The management of the social, environmental, safety and financial risks of participation in these activities is not beyond South Australians
- Long-term political decision-making, with bipartisan support at both state and federal levels, would be a prerequisite to achieving progress.
One of the key findings of the was that the storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia would meet a global need and is likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the community.
According to the commission, based on a storage capacity of 138,000 tonnes (~13%), financial assessments and economic modelling provided to the it by external expert consultants indicate that a storage and disposal facility could:
- Generate total revenue of more than AU$257 billion, with total costs of AU$145 billion over 120 years
- Gereate State revenue of more than AU$5 billion per year over the facility’s first 30 years of operation and AU$2 billion per year over the following 40+ years at which point waste receipts nominally conclude
- Generate approximately 1500 full time jobs – peaking at between 4000-5000 – during the 25-year construction process and 600 full time jobs once operational.
The scenario is based on a storage capacity of 138,000 tonnes (~13%) of the projected global used fuel inventory and is based on a very conservative waste assumption that assumes no new (currently unplanned light water) reactors become operational after 2030.
A news report featuring an interview with Senator Sean Edwards explaining the background to the story, and why South Australia is making moves to become a global leader in nuclear waste management, can be viewed below.
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