It is easy to find many links on the Internet about there being 'over 100 sites where nuclear waste is now stored', much harder to find out what sort of places those are. Hospitals are mentioned, not surprisingly because it seems the greatest use for radioactive material in Australia is in nuclear medicine.
In addition to hospitals I know from my own experience that the South Australian Mines and Energy Department used (years ago when I worked in that department) radioactive isotopes for well logging.
I believe that
neutron probes (which contain radioactive material) are used by a number of businesses for measuring the degree of wetting in soils.
Whether these departments and businesses store their spent radioactive material I don't know.
It seems to me logical that all low-medium level radioactive waste should be stored in one dedicated site and that that site should be away from densely populated areas.
The voteA vote among the residents of Kimba (one of the places near where a repository has been proposed) was conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. "61.6 per cent of the 734 ballot papers were in favour of the dump".
For more on the vote see the ABC article written 2019/11/07 by Casey Briggs.
The region's native titleholders, the Barngaria people, were not included in the vote; apparently because they do not live in Kimba.
(Where do they live? Should they have a say in the matter if they don't live in the area? If they were to vote, how would one decide which individuals should get a vote?)
Trivial compared to climate changePerhaps what surprises me most about this debate is how heated it is considering its triviality. Australia could go on storing waste all over the place, it seems a poor state of affairs, but it has worked so far.
The waste facility could be built. At worst there could be accidents carrying the waste to the facility, but it's hard to see that they could be very problematical.
On the other hand we are facing a world-wide disaster with
climate change; thousands of species will be forced into extinction, millions, perhaps billions, of people will die. Why bother with something that is unlikely to harm anybody at all, is very unlikely to cause a single human death, will cause little harm to any non-human species, when we could be putting our time to far better use pushing for action on reducing climate changing emissions.
If it wasn't for the natural radioactivity in the Earth to power plate tectonics and volcanism the world's continents and islands would have been eroded down to below sea level (if they would ever have formed at all) and humanity would not have evolved.
If not for natural radioactivity we would not have any helium on Earth; it is a very valuable element.
Risk of low level radiation exposureResearch indicates that low levels of radiation are not harmful and may even be beneficial:
"Epidemiological data provide essentially no evidence for detrimental health effects below 100 mSv [millisieverts], and several studies suggest beneficial (hormetic) effects."Natural background radiation is about 1.5 to 3.5 mSv/year.
"Neither cancers nor early childhood deaths positively correlate with dose rates in regions with elevated natural background radiation."
In the following table I've compared the impact of a low-medium level radioactive waste repository with some other contemporary issues.
And on causes that conscientious people could spend their time on with far more justification than the repository there are the micro-plastics, pharmaceuticals, hormones etcetera that go into the environment, and the misuse of antibiotics in the raising of domestic animals.
There have been credible claims that the way the government has gone about selection of the site is illegal; again, is this relevant to the main question – does Australia need a single dedicated repository?
The same fallacious argument has been used against assisted dying. "If once you allow doctors to help people die peacefully and painlessly that will develop into doing away with grandma because she's a financial burden."
External sites...Radioactive waste management, by Sophie Power, Science Technology Environment Resources, for the Australian Parliament. A summary of what it's all about.
Nuclear wastes in South Australia, 2000/08/11, by Dr Gerald Laurence, Radiation Safety Officer for Adelaide and Flinders Universities; Dr John Patterson, Associate Professor in Physics at Adelaide University; Dr John Prescott, Emeritus Professor in Physics at Adelaide University. All were in favour of a single waste repository for Australia's low-medium level radioactive waste.
ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation); "What we do"
On this site...Delusions: we must take care to think things out rationally and unemotionally
Red herring environmentalism: it's important to pick your battles wisely
Why would you use nuclear power? I present arguments on why it makes no sense to do so when renewable energy is cheeper and safer.
Rationality, not a strong trait in humans