One of Australia’s best known nuclear scientists says a nuclear waste dump could earn South Australia billions of dollars.

Dr Ziggy Switkowski said the revenue from a facility that stored both domestic and international nuclear waste would be a massive boost to the SA economy.

Switkowski is the former chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and is currently CEO of NBN Co.

“If a business case could be developed and a repository could be built in the right place, then there's the potential there for billions of dollars, I suspect, of revenue,” he told the ABC.

“But it would be some time away.”

He said proposals for an upcoming Royal Commission into SA nuclear industries included a plan to ‘lease’ the mineral.

“You could set up a model that says we won't actually sell the uranium that we export, we might rent it, or lease it,” he said.

“When it is consumed in a reactor and then withdrawn, we would take it back and manage the long-term storage of it, so it gives a whole-of-life stewardship of our own uranium.”

Experts and government ministers agree the Royal Commission is unlikely to lead to the enrichment of uranium in South Australia, because there is already an oversupply of such facilities around the world.

But Dr Switkowski says a nuclear waste ‘repository’ is worth looking into.

“The need has existed now for 60 or more years. There are a number of countries that are building very sophisticated repositories, but none at the moment are complete and so these sorts of proposals coming out, potentially of this royal commission, will be very interesting indeed,” he said.

Dr Switkowski chaired a 2006 Commonwealth Government inquiry into the viability of a domestic nuclear power industry, which found that it should be added to Australia’s energy mix.

Critics of the findings say the panel relied upon flawed assumptions and ignored questions around the disposal of radioactive waste and the greenhouse gas implications of increased mining.