Nuclear rods head off
Nuclear fuel rods that have underpinned Australia’s high-tech research and medicine are on their way to France.
The fuel has been used by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) for a decade's worth of research and the creation of over 5.5 million doses of nuclear medicine for Australian patients.
The highly-radioactive materials will be recycled in France, having their leftover uranium and plutonium removed before the leftover waste is returned to Australia.
It is the tenth time ANSTO’s spent fuel rods have been exported, and the group’s chief nuclear officer, Hef Griffiths, says the process is fairly routine.
“The spent fuel export process is one that's been undertaken ten times now within Australia and thousands of times worldwide,” Mr Griffiths said.
“There hasn't been a single incident with any of those shipments.”
But the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has slammed the “boomerang waste”.
“There is no Federal Government process to identify the best place and method to manage this waste — some of which requires isolation for periods of up to 10,000 years,” ACF spokesperson Dave Sweeney said.
He said the Government is buying time instead of solving “complex management issues”.
An upcoming Senate inquiry in Canberra is looking into the Federal Government's attempt to find a nuclear waste dump site in regional South Australia.