A study has been completed that examines the strategic, economic, legal, regulatory and workforce issues in relation to procuring, leasing or assembling a complete military off the shelf (MOTS) nuclear-powered submarine in Australia. In relation to nuclear waste management, the study concludes that all skills and infrastructure needed to support a nuclear naval propulsion economy exist in Australia with the exception of systems for the management of spent fuel.
The study also concludes that if the MOTS system were to be obtained from the United States, then it is possible that the US could, under current law and precedent, determine that it is in its national interests to return the spent fuel to the US. Such a possibility could allow Australia to proceed with a naval nuclear propulsion program without having to establish an infrastructure for the management of spent fuel.
Associate Roland Backhaus presented this paper at the 2014 Waste Management Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.