NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was established by the South Australian Government on 19 March 2015 to undertake an independent and comprehensive investigation into the potential for increasing South Australia’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle. It was required to, and did, report to the Governor of South Australia by 6 May 2016.
Former Governor of South Australia, Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd), was appointed to the role of Royal Commissioner on 9 February 2015. The Commission’s task was to prepare a considered report to government to inform future decision-making.
The Commission determined that its process would be:
- evidence-based – meaning that it was concerned with facts and identifying the basis for claims made,
- open and transparent – enabling interested parties to provide evidence, watch evidence being given, consider and comment on the Commission’s tentative findings, and scrutinise the basis for its findings
- independent – forming its views independent of government, industry and lobby groups.
The Commission collected evidence from four sources: written submissions, oral evidence in public sessions, its own research including overseas site visits, and commissioned studies.
In May 2015, the Commission released four issues papers (focused on exploration and mining, further processing, electricity generation, and storage and disposal of waste), which provided background information related to its Terms of Reference and invited interested persons to respond to questions. People and organisations were given three months to make written submissions on oath as evidence for the Commission to consider.
The Commission received more than 250 submissions from the community, organisations, industry and government.
Anyone who contacted the Commission seeking help to comply with its process was assisted. At the outset the Commission made public that it would, by arrangement, receive submissions by other means. As a result, it took several oral submissions. The Commission also engaged regularly with Aboriginal communities, including through public information sessions.
The Commission held a series of public sessions from September to December 2015, and in April 2016, on topics of interest to it. In those sessions it received oral evidence on oath from persons with relevant experience and expertise.
The public sessions were conducted informally, with a view to encouraging discussion with witnesses on central topics to draw out information of particular relevance. Most public sessions were conducted in the Commission’s session room in Adelaide, and all sessions were streamed live on the Commission’s website. Transcripts and videos were later made available to be downloaded from the website.
Over 37 sitting days, the Commission heard from 132 witnesses from Australia and overseas, including from Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The Commission engaged organisations with expertise to undertake detailed assessments of the potential commercial viability of establishing nuclear facilities in South Australia. It also sought analysis that considered the wider economic effects of investments made in developing those facilities.
It commissioned expert assessments in relation to fuel leasing, the risks of transporting used fuel, how safety cases are undertaken for geological disposal facilities, and skills requirements for the development of nuclear facilities.
The views expressed in these reports are the professional views of the organisations and individuals that prepared them. As such, the Commission treated these reports in the same way as evidence – and the extent to which they have been accepted and relied on is identified in the findings and the reasoning in support of those findings.
The release of the tentative findings on 15 February 2016 shared with the community the Commission’s preliminary thinking on issues it considered important, based on evidence. The Commission sought scrutiny by inviting public responses within five weeks. It received more than 170 direct responses. The Commission read all responses and they informed the structure and range of issues addressed in the final report, which was released by the Premier Hon Jay Weatherill on 9 May, 2016.
Visit www.yourSAy.sa.gov.au to read the report of the Commission and to stay informed.