Josh Frydenberg tight-lipped on potential radioactive waste dump site during Goldfields visit
Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg has declined to reveal whether the Goldfields is in the running to host the Government’s planned storage facility for radioactive waste.
Set to house low-level waste, including the by-products of nuclear medicine, the facility has been stuck in legal and planning limbo for more than two decades.
While the Shires of Leonora and Coolgardie have expressed interest in hosting the facility, Mr Frydenberg said he was unable to reveal the communities on the shortlist.
“I can’t confirm or deny that,” he told ABC Goldfields mornings host Stan Shaw.
“We’ll be announcing the results before the end of the year.”
Frydenberg moves to reassure communities
Visiting Kalgoorlie-Boulder for the first time since taking over the energy and resources portfolio, Mr Frydenberg said it was important potential community concerns over the waste facility were fully addressed.
“It’s very important this facility is supported by the local communities – that’s why we’ll have a proper consultation process,” he said.
“It’s been a long-overdue discussion, and there’s been plenty of obstacles along the way.”
Long-running plans to establish a similar facility at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory met with significant opposition from traditional owners, with the proposal eventually collapsing last June.
The lack of an effective storage facility has left low-level waste stored at more than 100 locations across Australia, including the basements of hospitals, mine sites and scientific facilities.
With more than 500,000 doses of nuclear medicine administered across Australia each year, Mr Frydenberg said Australia had a responsibility to store and manage the resulting waste.
“It could be gowns that have been used, glasses or goggles that have been used in nuclear-related medicine,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“We have a responsibility to dispose of that and store it.”
Once the shortlist was announced, Mr Frydenberg said the community consultation would continue, with any feedback likely to prove a major factor in the waste facility’s final location.
He said the final location could expect considerable financial support from the Commonwealth to assist with managing the facility.
Government committed to regulatory reform, minister says
Touring Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Super Pit gold mine for the first time, Mr Frydenberg was also quizzed by local mining industry figures about the Government’s approach to ongoing reforms.
With industry representatives pointing to labour market flexibility as a major issue, he said industrial relations changes and environmental regulation would remain a focus.
“We were successful in passing legislation reforming the way agreements are reached on greenfields sites, and we’ll continue to push the case for the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Our (environmental) ‘one stop shops’ are not about a diminution of environmental standards. It’s simply a removal of duplication and overlap where state and federal governments were performing the same role.”
While Mr Frydenberg declined to nominate specific regulatory areas the Government would target, he said he was keen to hear from mining industry representatives on what approach was needed.