Nuclear Submarines

The Australia Submarine Agency (ASA) has applied for a license from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to temporarily store radioactive waste at Garden Island at the HMAS Stirling Naval Base. This low level waste will initially be from US and UK nuclear powered submarines which will be on rotation at Garden island from 2027. SUBMISSIONS CLOSE 7th JUNE 2024.

Read the consultation document from the ASA here.

How to make a submission against the Australian Submarine Agency proposal to temporarily store radioactive waste at Meeandip (Garden Island)

Question 1: What action do you think should be taken for this licensing application?

    Selection: “Refuse license”

    Question 2: What does your opinion or feedback relate to (select all that apply)

    Selection: select all items that you feel are important (you can select many)

    Question 3: What is your feedback on this license application?

    Some things you might want to include here:

    • The consultation document does not give enough information about what is proposed. The lack of transparency is dangerous and deficient.
    • The permanent presence of US and UK nuclear submarines and nuclear waste storage makes HMAS Stirling a military target, if attacked the radiation risks threaten Cockburn Sound, Shoalwater Bay Marine Reserve.
    • The storage of waste at HMAS Stirling is said to be temporary – for how long, and where is the proposed permanent storage? (noting that the last 40 years of trying to develop a permanent radioactive waste storage for low level waste in Australia has failed – no such facility exists).
    • We reject that Australian public should fund or endure the risks of managing radioactive waste from foreign defence.
    • There is no legislation that would prevent Australia from accepting High Level Nuclear waste from the US and UK – this should be explicitly prohibited.
    • Proposed new laws – the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill (ANNPS) will create an internal regulator responsible only to the Minister for Defence. We are deeply concerned about the lack of transparency and the serious risks of having defence in control of nuclear waste and materials which pose a public health and security risk.
    • There are no details about what will happen if there is a major accident or incident involving the release of radiation. What protections, alerts, public health and safety measures are there. 
    • There are concerns about the environmental impacts, ground water and climate change impacts. Storing radioactive waste on an island is dangerous and deficient and there are no provisions explained for public reporting on monitoring.
    • Cockburn Sound and Shoalwater Bay are sensitive and ecologically important areas that should be protected from nuclear threats and increased industrialisation at Garden Island and surrounds including the little penguin, sea lions and many more rare and endangered
    • There are recreation and commercial values of the area which are threatened by the presence of nuclear power submarines and foreign defence forces.
    • We reject the proposal to store radioactive waste at Garden Island or host any nuclear powered submarines in Cockburn Sound.

    Background: The AUKUS Nuclear-Powered Submarine Pathway announced in March 2023 by the US, UK and Australia, HMAS Stirling Naval Base, Garden Island in WA’s Cockburn Sound – Derbal Nara, means there are increasing visits of US nuclear powered submarines.

    Commencing in 2027, US Virginia Class SSN’s are to be stationed there on rotation under the Force Posture Agreement with the US, joined by the UK Astute Class SSNs a few years later. 

    HMAS Stirling is also the intended home port of Australia’s first nuclear powered submarines. Three  (possibly 4 or 5) US Virginia Class SSNs are to be purchased (pending Congress approval) from the US in the early 2030’s. Media reports claim at least 2 of these submarines will be 2nd hand with a purchase life span of only another 20 years. We strongly hope and will campaign against these plans.

    Australia has agreed to take responsibility for the highly-enriched-uranium nuclear waste management of these submarines.

    The Federal government has allocated $8 billion to upgrade HMAS Stirling  – but we are yet to see any formal proposal or environmental impacts statement.

    Stop AUKUS WA works to increase community awareness of the public health, safety and environmental risks of naval nuclear reactors and nuclear waste storage.

    The campaign opposes this nuclear creep and calls for a Nuclear Free Cockburn Sound – No Nuke Subs!