Residents concerned at Sydney nuclear waste plan
A plan to store radioactive waste in Sydney's southern suburbs raises safety concerns, says a local councillor who is angry the area is being treated like a world dumping ground.
Thirteen cubic metres of the waste - enough to fill one-third of a shipping container - will be returned to Australia by 2015 and stored for five years at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility.
The waste, which will remain toxic for centuries, was generated in Australia through the production of nuclear medicine and during scientific research.
It was taken to France for reprocessing but will be returned under an Australian-Franco government agreement and kept in a newly built storage unit.
Sutherland Shire councillor Peter Towell, whose ward covers the Lucas Heights area, said the local authority was opposed to the plan and residents had safety concerns.
"Not impressed ... we just don't want it," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned a nuclear reactor has its place in our medical system but it's not a world dumping ground."
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said he would rather have the waste at Lucas Heights than dumped near outback communities.
"It puts it into an area where there's established and proven security and monitoring," Mr Sweeney said.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) chief executive Adi Paterson said most people would be surprised how small the volume of waste was.
"The store would hold around 13.2m3 of waste from spent fuel - equal to a third of one shipping container - from the old HIFAR reactor at Lucas Heights," Dr Paterson said in a statement.
It will be moved to an as yet unbuilt National Radioactive Waste Management Facility by 2020.
The Australian newspaper reported it will be shipped from France in a custom-built 6.5-metre cask with walls more than 20 centimetres thick.