Establishing a nuclear waste facility in the Australian outback would be economically advantageous for South Australia if the State Government decides to expand its role in the nuclear industry, according to Nigel McBride, CEO of Business SA (the South Australian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry). Last year, Australian Prime Minister Jay Weatherill received a report commissioned by former Employment and Science Minister Tom Kenyon, which found setting up a waste store near Woomera could bring significant revenue for the local economy.
A royal commission, headed by Kevin Scarce, is currently examining the potential for an expansion of the state's role in the nuclear industry, including possible construction of a nuclear power station or waste facility. McBride said countries such as Japan and South Korea would pay well to send their nuclear waste in the state's outback.
"We know that there are huge potential financial benefits from being able to provide that service, and it's logical that they've identified somewhere in the Woomera region as a potential site because of course it's very remote," McBride noted.
He added that there were two other options for South Australia's future role in the nuclear industry - enriching uranium mined in Australia , and nuclear power. But he believed South Australia had the most to gain from establishing an outback waste store.
"They are all amazingly interesting options, very exciting options for South Australia's future, but clearly nuclear waste storage safely in a geological stable remote area is the most promising one at the moment," he said.
He said the biggest concern would be transportation. "Transport options will always be the issue but they can always be dealt with safely, as they are in other parts of the world, for example in the US." The royal commission is expected to announce its findings by May 2016.