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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

6 April 2001

Proposed Low-Level Radioactive Waste Repository: EIS Guidelines Issued for public comment


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today issued draft guidelines for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed national low-level radioactive waste repository in the central-north of South Australia.

Senator Hill said the Department of Industry, Science and Resources was required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement as part of an assessment of the proposed repository.

"The EIS will identify the likely environmental impacts of the national low-level radioactive waste repository so that these can be taken into account when I consider whether or not to approve construction of the repository," Senator Hill said.

"The draft guidelines require that all three identified sites are fully assessed.

"The public will have six weeks to make public comment and I will then take this information into account before finalising the terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Statements.

Senator Hill said the public comment period gave the community and stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the guidelines to ensure that they include all the relevant issues.

"This Government is committed to a transparent and rigorous assessment process with full public involvement," Senator Hill said.

The draft guidelines will be available for public comment from today until May 23, 2001. Comments made during this period will be taken into account in finalising the guidelines to be provided to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources so work can formally begin on the draft EIS.

6 April 2001

Media Contact: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill) 08 82377920 or 0419 258364.


Background

The Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources proposes to establish a national repository for the disposal of Australia's low-level and short-lived intermediate level radioactive waste resulting from the medical, research and industrial use of radioactive materials.

Central-north of South Australia has been identified as the most suitable location for the proposed repository. One of three sites in this region is preferred on the basis of current knowledge. All three potential sites will be examined in full in the Environmental Impact Statement.

The proposed national low-level radioactive waste repository would only accept low-level and short-lived intermediate level waste. The national low-level radioactive waste repository is not associated with the proposed storage facility for intermediate-level radioactive waste generated by Commonwealth agencies. The Government has made it clear the intermediate-level waste storage facility would be built on Commonwealth land and not be co-located with the national low-level radioactive waste repository.

The proposal to construct a national low-level radioactive waste repository was referred to the Minister for Environment and Heritage for consideration as to whether or not approval was required in terms of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

On February 8, 2001, Senator Hill determined that approval was required for the proposed national low-level radioactive waste repository. The controlling provisions for the action under the EPBC Act are:

Senator Hill determined on March 2, 2001, that the proposed establishment of the repository must be assessed (in terms of potential environmental impacts) by way of the preparation of an EIS.

Commonwealth of Australia