Australian leaders are concerned about the nuclear waste the country’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet, which the country will buy and then build under the AUKUS deal with the U.S. and U.K. 

AUKUS also poses complicated questions of compliance for Australia, which is treaty-bound to neither produce or possess nuclear weapons or materials that could be used to make them. 

Under AUKUS, detailed just last week by the participating governments, Australia will buy up to five U.S.-built

Virginia-class nuclear powered, conventionally armed submarines. The U.S. Virginia fleet uses nuclear reactors designed to last for the vessel’s entire service life, or a little over 30 years, according to the Government Accountability Office. 

The reactor in a Virginia-class submarine, which Australia now plans to acquire in the 2030s, was designed to last as long as the boat can sail, so Australia would not have to dispose of spent nuclear fuel from a Virginia submarine for decades. 

AUKUS aims to give Australia the means to make its own nuclear-powered submarine by the 2040s, according to a fact sheet issued by the three governments last week. 

But U.S.-built Virginia-class subs and nuclear-powered submarines from the United Kingdom will arrive in the 2030s to help the Australian navy replace existing diesel-electric submarines that will start aging out around then, according to the AUKUS partners. That means Australia will have to reckon with spent fuel management 

Officials from Victoria, Queensland and both South and West Australia have all spoken out against the disposal of nuclear waste in their states, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

Australia does have huge swaths of remote, sparsely populated territory that could be suitable for storing nuclear waste in the future. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan suggested radioactive waste from the boats’ reactors could be stored in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia. The area consists of 122,000 square kilometers (47,100 square miles) carved out of the Australian outback northwest of Adelaide for the “testing of war material” by the Royal Australian Air Force, according to South Australia’s Department of Energy and Mining. 

Under AUKUS, the Australian government is responsible for disposing of nuclear waste produced by its submarines, according to information published by the participating governments.

A version of this story first appeared in Defense Daily affiliate publication Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.