The management of radioactive waste in South Australia is controlled under the provisions of the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982 (the RPC Act) and its Regulations.
The Radiation Protection and Control (Ionising Radiation) Regulations 2015 requires any disposal of radioactive substances to be approved by the Minister. This approval has been delegated to EPA officers.
Hospitals and laboratories that use unsealed radioactive material must submit annual radioactive waste management plans for approval by the EPA. These plans include the quantities of radioactive material used and disposed, and the means of disposal.
Radioactive waste management plans are required as part of conditions on the licence to mine or mill radioactive ores.
The EPA promotes the sustainable management of radioactive waste.
Legacy sites are former mining or mineral processing sites where waste is being managed or rehabilitation is in progress.
The following are legacy sites in South Australia:
Audit of radioactive waste in SA
In October 2000, the EPA carried out a desktop survey of registered sealed sources that were considered by their owners to be waste. The purpose of the survey was to determine the level of demand for a central store for this type of radioactive waste.
The survey provided useful information, but it did not involve site inspections and did not include unsealed radioactive material or miscellaneous material such as non-registrable sealed sources held in South Australia.
Since September 2001 there has been increased consciousness about the security of radioactive material both nationally and internationally, particularly in regard to radioactive material that may potentially be used for malevolent purposes such as terrorism.
In recent years, public interest and concern about the management of radioactive waste in South Australia have also increased, and there has been considerable parliamentary debate on radioactive waste management issues.
In August 2002, the state government announced that the EPA would conduct an audit of radioactive material. The Hon. John Hill, then Minister for Environment and Conservation, requested the EPA to undertake the audit, with particular emphasis on material designated as waste, and to determine the nature and volume of the material and whether it was safely and securely stored. The project was approved on 21 September 2002.
The audit applied only to radioactive material containing radionuclides with an activity, and activity concentration at levels regulated by the South Australian Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982. It included the inspection and evaluation of the safety and security of the following radioactive materials:
- registered sealed sources in hospitals, universities and industry
- unsealed radioactive material in hospitals, universities and other organisations
- uranium product and other radioactive material at the Olympic Dam, Beverley and Honeymoon mine sites
- radioactive tailings and residues at Radium Hill and Port Pirie, where uranium ore was mined or processed in the past
- miscellaneous radioactive material, including smoke detectors that contain radioactive material, geological samples held in core libraries and museums, and radioactive material used in secondary schools.
A report was produced, Audit of radioactive materials in South Australia (2003).
Radioactive material under federal jurisdiction includes material used or stored at premises of the CSIRO, the Australian Customs Service, the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, on Maralinga lands, and waste stored at two Australian Government sites near Woomera.
Provisions of the Australian Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (ARPANS Act) and associated regulations specifically preclude federal entities from control by the South Australian Act. The ARPANS Act is administered by the Australian Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).
Radioactive waste store feasibility study