Canberra will be required to safely dispose of spent fuel within its own territory under the AUKUS deal
Australia’s political establishment is divided over where the federal government should dispose of nuclear waste associated with the country’s expanded submarine deal with its AUKUS allies.
An agreement was reached by the leaders of the countries that make up the trilateral AUKUS alliance – Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom – when they met in San Diego, California, earlier this week, which approved Washington’s sale of submarine nuclear power plants to Canberra.
Separately, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed that his country will build its own fleet of nuclear submarines, which will be delivered in the early 2040s. The terms of the agreement state that the Australian government will be responsible for the disposal nuclear waste from ships – but this seems to have opened up a new political front for the country’s various heads of state.
“I think the waste can go where all the jobs go,” Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday, referring to the 8,000 jobs that are expected to be generated in South Australia during construction. military submarines. “I don’t think that’s unreasonable, do you? »
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has also indicated that nuclear waste disposal sites are not welcome in his state, joining Andrews in suggesting that South Australia is the best place to be. more appropriate.
Susan Close, South Australia’s caretaker prime minister who also serves as the region’s environment minister, responded to the suggestions by saying the decision on nuclear waste sites should be dictated by science and not ” heads of state trying to move nuclear waste that doesn’t yet exist across the border. »
A final decision on the location of the site is not expected for 12 months, and the site finally selected will not be used until around 2055.
The AUKUS deal will see Australia become the seventh country with nuclear-powered submarines in its military arsenal, and comes amid Western concerns over China’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing has slammed the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal, saying it contradicts accepted nuclear non-proliferation norms.