World's Nuclear Waste Could Find Home in Australian Outback

Storage in South Australia could bring in $183B
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2016 1:35 PM CST
World's Nuclear Waste Could Find Home in Australian Outback
The Outback could be a new repository for the world's nuclear waste.   (Shutterstock)

If the world is looking for another dumping ground for its nuclear waste, it may soon find a willing volunteer in South Australia. A report by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission offered tentative findings that storing spent fuel rods—429,900 tons now being temporarily stored in areas around the globe, per the Sydney Morning Herald, or what the ABC estimates to be 13% of the world's waste—would be economically beneficial for Australia, and such a facility would be ready to accept waste as early as the late 2020s, the Guardian reports. The report, which Bloomberg notes will be issued in final form on May 6, recommends a state-run fund be established to "accumulate and equitably share the profits from the storage and disposal of waste." And those profits could be hefty: Estimates say the operation could generate about $3.6 billion (US) a year for the first 30 years, then $1.4 billion until the end of the project—an estimated $183 billion in all, per the Herald.

The project would also result in plenty of jobs: 1,500 to start, with a peak of 4,500 during the 25-year construction period. Although specific sites for the waste weren't noted in the report, it says South Australia would be ideal because it's not terribly prone to earthquakes, boasts a dry climate, and would have the political expediency necessary to carry out the project. There is the worry of radiation emitting into the atmosphere, leading an aboriginal group to call the plan "immoral," per the Advertiser. But the report cites facilities in Finland and Sweden that have set up safe, long-term storage for nuclear waste and says risks could be minimized. (A New Mexico radiation leak was blamed on kitty litter.)

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