The Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle has been publicly released this week.
The Royal Commission, led by former Governor of South Australia, Rear Admiral the Hon Kevin Scarce, was established by the South Australian Government last year to consider South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The report makes 12 key recommendations regarding the deepening of South Australia’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle, including pursuing the establishment of nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage facilities in South Australia.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the report marks the start of a very important conversation about the future of nuclear energy in South Australia.
“The Royal Commission has found that it is both safe and viable to pursue a used fuel waste storage facility, and this would have extraordinary economic benefits for South Australia,” Premier Weatherill said.
“The Commissioner has also found that without broad social and specific community consent, such a proposal would not be achievable.”
A community engagement process on the report’s findings will be unveiled in the coming days. The outcomes of this process will help inform the Government’s response to the report, to be delivered to the Parliament by the end of this year.
Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg said the report was welcomed.
“Although Australia does not generate nuclear energy, we have participated in the nuclear fuel cycle for more than 60 years, helping to create and export potentially life-saving medicine and cutting edge industrial technology,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Further, we have an established uranium mining industry which supports thousands of jobs and is estimated to produce around $980 million in export income in 2015-16. The expansion of Australia’s nuclear industry beyond this current focus would require significant legislative and regulatory change.
“The Royal Commission’s report provides a sound basis for the South Australian Government, and the broader community, to make informed and considered decisions about South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle, and the potential economic opportunities that the report identifies.”
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy also welcomed the report, which confirmed the low carbon potential of nuclear power and that legislative impediments should be removed to allow it to be considered as part of future energy policies.
Chief Executive Jason said the South Australian public are increasingly embracing the role this State can play in the nuclear fuel cycle, confirmed through SACOME’s recent Reachtel Poll of 1575 respondents, conducted in March 2016, that revealed only 26 per cent of people opposed uranium mining, 30 per cent oppose nuclear power for South Australia and opposition to a high level wast facility was only 38 per cent.
The Royal Commission’s final report took into account over 250 public submissions to four nuclear fuel cycle issues papers, interviews from 132 expert witnesses including 41 global specialists, and a further 170 submissions on the tentative findings.