Local government figures from South Australia's Upper Spencer Gulf have seen the reality of Australia’s nuclear waste problem.

Mayors and other representatives have completed a fact-finding mission to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney.

The Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group toured the site to learn about the waste from nuclear technology like medicines, smoke detectors and particular parts of hybrid cars.

The delegates were seeking a better understanding of the nuclear industry, as the state looks for opportunities to grow the controversial industry.

Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said his ideas had changed, and he no longer thought of nuclear waste as green slime and glowing rods.

“It certainly answered some questions and [has] given me personally a whole different way of looking at ... our nuclear-based industry of what's currently in Australia and what can be I guess explored over the many decades to come,” he told reporters.

“I don't believe the future for us is actually in nuclear power generation but in the associated products that still come with having a nuclear reactor which is currently operating at Lucas Heights.”