Shipment courier

Shipment of nuclear waste bound for Sydney | The mail

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Police are preparing to escort a monolithic steel drum of nuclear waste through Sydney this weekend, reigniting debate over Australia’s plans for the toxic material. The huge capsule resembling something from NASA’s space program contains two tons of mid-level radioactive waste that will need to be isolated from the environment for thousands of years. But for now, it will be stored at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor complex in southern Sydney. The waste is returned according to the international principle that countries must take back their nuclear remains after reprocessing. In the case of Australia, it has been done overseas. Conservation groups have tracked the vessel carrying the cask since it left the UK in January and expect it to be unloaded at Port Kembla between 11am and 11pm on Saturday. He will then be transported by truck – under the highest security, along closed roads – to Lucas Heights. It won’t be a small operation. The barrel itself weighs 100 tons and was built to withstand an earthquake and a plane strike. The move should be carried out overnight from Saturday to Sunday. At Lucas Heights, the cask will be stored next to the one that was returned in 2015, with 20 mid-level tons inside. Low-level waste is also stored inside the reactor containment. Along the way, all waste will be moved to a new, yet to be built, National Nuclear Waste Management Facility near the South Australian town of Kimba. But some conservationists have a big problem with this plan. Kimba will be a near-surface facility and a permanent solution for low-level waste only. The intermediate material will be stored again. The federal government is committed to developing a separate end solution for the most toxic substances. It will involve deep burial, but so far there is no firm plan and no site has been identified to take it. Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney said the country’s most powerful nuclear waste should not be transferred to Kimba. He says the problem is being pushed back, for a future government to fix. “We think there is a very real risk that this material will be stuck in sub-optimal conditions at Kimba. Move it once, move it well, and move it permanently,” he says. “Our position is that the Lucas Heights facility is the best place for Australia’s most serious waste. It has the highest security, surveillance and emergency response capability. It’s staffed 24/7, and 95% of the waste is already there.” The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization operates the Lucas Heights Reactor, which supports nuclear medicine and science. Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt said international best practice was to consolidate radioactive waste in a single, safe and purpose-built facility. “This is what the government is proposing,” he said, while noting that it would take several decades to find a final solution to intermediate waste. He said ANSTO had warned it would need to construct three additional waste storage buildings in Lucas Heights if the national facility was not built. For security reasons, ANSTO will not confirm when the cask will be moved from Port Kembla to Lucas Heights. He said the barrel was so well shielded that someone could stand next to it for 25 hours and receive the same dose of radiation as a nine-hour flight to Singapore. Police told AAP that an operation was planned for Saturday to facilitate the transportation of goods to ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus. He said no further details would be provided. Australian Associated Press

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