Skip to main content

Australia Nuclear Update

In an opinion piece in today's Australian, Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International and founding partner of Ecos Corp., addresses the issue of environmental stewardship and nuclear energy in Australia:
One of the key principles of sustainability, and one accepted by environmentalists and governments around the world including our own, is product stewardship. The logic is simple. If you put something out there, you need to accept some responsibility for the consequences, even if the product's use is not directly under your control. This is why we see McDonald's acting on obesity, Ford and Toyota on climate change and BP on air pollution.

If we accept this principle, there are only two morally defensible positions for Australia on matters nuclear. Either we sell uranium, use nuclear power and take back nuclear waste for storage in Australia or none of these. It is politically convenient for the Howard Government to raise the nuclear power in Australia debate as a distraction from their agenda of selling more uranium. However, if they are serious about nuclear power, they should be proposing that we ship our share of the world's nuclear waste back to Australia and store it here permanently.

If the South Australian and West Australian governments want to expand uranium mining because of the economic benefits it brings, they should have the courage to also propose to their electorates that they host storage facilities for high-level nuclear waste. After all, 240,000 years is a serious, long-term economic benefit.

Done well, this also could be incredibly strategic and lucrative for Australia. Imagine Australia providing long-term, geologically safe storage for nuclear waste in the Australian outback as part of its sales package.
Later, Gilding lays out his opposition to nuclear energy, but can't discount the possibility that Australia will turn to nuclear in an attempt to help stem greenhouse gas emissions:
For the record, I remain unconvinced that nuclear power is an intelligent or effective response to climate change, economically or environmentally . . . Will nukes win? A few months ago I would have said no. Now I'm not so sure. With Siberia melting, my world has changed, and all bets are off.
Technorati tags:

Comments

Anonymous said…
Australia is also a large exporter of coal. Is Mr. Gilding also proposing that Australia take reciept of the fly ash produced when their coal is burned in foreign power plants?

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …