Independent bodies, regulations and checks

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

ARPANSA is the agency responsible for granting three licences for the facility to proceed which will be granted based on safety cases put forward.

Without all the licences from ARPANSA the site cannot be prepared and the facility cannot be built or operated.

ARPANSA is the Australian Government's primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety. ARPANSA regulates Commonwealth entities using radiation with the objective of protecting people and the environment from the harmful effect of radiation. ARPANSA undertakes research, provides services, and promotes national uniformity and the implementation of international best practice across all jurisdictions.

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) is the Commonwealth agency responsible for regulating the non-proliferation safeguards and nuclear security aspects of the facility. 

ASNO ensures Australia meets its international obligations under various treaties on nuclear non-proliferation and security, such as:

  • the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities
  • Australia's NPT safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • Australia's network of 24 bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements.

ASNO has four main areas of responsibility in the nuclear area: the application of IAEA safeguards in Australia; the physical protection (i.e. security) of nuclear material, technology and equipment in Australia; the operation of Australia's bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements; and contributions to the strengthening of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime through work with the IAEA, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization and with other countries.

International Atomic Energy Agency

The national facility will be subject to independent inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Australia reports on its radioactive waste holdings every three years through the IAEA’s Joint Convention review meetings. Australia’s latest country report to the IAEA was provided in October 2014.

Facility operators and regulators throughout the world share a wealth of experience through forums held by the IAEA.

For nuclear material, namely uranium, plutonium and thorium, ASNO reports to the IAEA several times a year and the IAEA does two or three inspections a year of Australia’s limited holdings

The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will be subject to independent inspection by the IAEA.

The Department of the Environment and Energy

The project will be assessed in accordance with the requirements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Independent Advisory Panel

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has established an Independent Advisory Panel. The purpose of the panel is to provide the Department with a broader understanding of technical and community issues
associated with managing Australia’s radioactive waste.

The panel:

  • provides independent technical and project implementation advice on identifying a site and establishing the facility, including developing a site identification methodology that best reflects stakeholder and community values
  • advises the department in developing a framework to shortlist potentially suitable volunteered sites 
  • may also provide advice on engagement with regional communities in which shortlisted sites are located
  • provides advice to the Department and will not be a representative or decision making body.

Two groups will support the process: a technical sub-group and a socio-economic sub-group.

The panel advises the department as it implements the Government’s policy to establish the facility in accordance with:

  • International best practice for long-term radioactive waste management;
  • Australia’s international legal obligations;
  • The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012
  • Australia’s radiation and environmental protection regulatory regimes.