Australia Synroc plant construction approved by regulator

15 May 2014 by Will Dalrymple

Australia's nuclear regulator has approved siting and construction of its proposed Synroc intermediate-level waste treatment plant at the ANSTO campus in Sydney's Sutherland Shire.

Synroc is an Australian invention that immobilises radioactive waste in a durable solid rock-like material. In September 2012, ANSTO announced plans for the cutting-edge Synroc plant, which will be co-located with an export-scale nuclear medicine manufacturing facility.

Together the Synroc and nuclear medicine projects represent a $168 million investment in innovation, design, construction and high end manufacturing. In total, 250 jobs are expected to be created, many of which are expected to benefit local suppliers and residents.

The projects will enable ANSTO to triple its nuclear medicine production, guaranteeing local supplies and meaning we can help meet world demand with medicine produced from proliferation-proof Low Enriched Uranium.

Co-location of the two facilities will enable waste from medicine production to be efficiently managed. Synroc will only be applied to waste generated from ANSTO, and the treated waste will be sent to the national radioactive waste management facility once it has been sited and built.

This week's Australian federal budget also included $22.6 million to develop detailed design options for this national waste facility, which will be located outside of the Shire.

The decision this week by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) came after an expert assessment, including a public consultation process, and enables ANSTO to site and construct the Synroc facility.

Construction of the Synroc plant is scheduled to start in 2015 and be completed by the end of 2017. Further approvals will be required before the plant is made operational.

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