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The Forum > Article Comments > Mixed motives in South Australia's nuclear waste import plan > Comments

Mixed motives in South Australia's nuclear waste import plan : Comments

By Noel Wauchope, published 23/8/2016

The message from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) is clearly a plan to make South Australia rich, by importing foreign nuclear wastes.

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What could the NFCRC have concluded that would have influenced Noel Wauchopeís views on nuclear energy? Let me suggest the answer. Nothing. She is a self-described long time anti-nuclear activist. She is not alone. I first encountered the species about 50 years ago in the streets of an inner Melbourne suburb. This was long before there was any need for low-emissions energy, and no concern about climate change. The anti-nuclear driving force was the bomb, plain and simple.

50 years of operation of over 400 nuclear power stations has changed nothing for the activists. But now the need for low-emission power is real. So whatís their new tack? Nuclear waste is horrible, despite the experience with over 400 power stations. Nuclear supporters are climate sceptics, which might be true for some but the supporting data seem scarce. And renewables will do the trick. And anyone who says different is part of a giant nasty global lobby, a global conspiracy.

Well, Iím not a climate sceptic. I think we will require future energy at quantities commensurate with maintaining and increasing our living standards. I donít believe that there will ever be technologies that neutralise the effects of fossil fuel combustion products. I am not scared of nuclear wastes, any more than of the huge quantities of infinitely permanent toxic non-radioactive wastes (like arsenic, cadmium, mercury) that inevitably accompany our industrialised societies. I am not a nuclear activist or advocate, long term or anything else. Iím just a rational scientist.

But above all, I believe that the hopes that renewables can fully replace fossil fuels are nothing more than wishful thinking. My belief is based on deep knowledge of energy technologies. Understanding the limitations of renewables is surely the central point in the formation of modern attitudes to nuclear energy. Maybe that should be the aim of the next energy Royal Commission. Long term anti-nuclear activists can start working on their submissions.
Posted by Tombee, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 9:09:13 AM
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Quite simply, I smell a Chinese rat. How very very convenient. Another step along the way in turning Australia into a Chinese farm on top, with a nuclear waste dump underneath: and apparently, at the cost to the Australian taxpayer of $600m in this time of apparent austerity.

IMO if Chinese wish for a necular waste dump in Australia, let's have an open and honest debate.
Posted by diver dan, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 10:22:01 AM
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Well Noel, what is your problem here. You seem to be violently against nuclear energy but you don't explain why you have a problem with it. Perhaps for your next article you could explain to us why nuclear power is so evil in your eyes. I look forward to reading what you really think.
Posted by Martin N, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 10:47:25 AM
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At last, someone has found a use for most of South Australia and Wauchope is objecting. We should make her live there and then see whether she thinks the place should be put to use.
Posted by curmudgeonathome, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 10:51:17 AM
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"The message from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) is clearly a plan to make South Australia rich, by importing foreign nuclear wastes"

Yet the US President and his administration are deeply concerned about the problems and costs of keeping waste stocks, even low-level waste.

As if Uncle Sam, the Brits, French and so many other countries who are keen to send their problems elsewhere would be doing so if there was a dollar in it. It isn't as if the US, which is every bit as large as Australia and larger with Alaska, doesn't have its own stable, unpopulated desert areas.

The US State Department has been casting about for years for a convenient rationalisation and they reckon in their 'cradle to grave' that would apply exclusively to unwanted nuke waste that they have found one. George 'Dubya' Bush found the first big dupe in his 'Little Deputy' John Howard.
Posted by onthebeach, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 11:01:13 AM
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Here I find myself mostly agreeing with Tombee! The fear mongering lady seems to have a problem with simple maths, not to mention logical reasoning?

We need to stop the endless chicken little's sky falling hysteria, if only to understand that the only way forward now, is to develop FBR's that use and reuse uranium, plutonium and nuclear waste! Which will exhaust the fissile capacity or any remaining weaponizing capability; and leave waste with a seriously reduced half life of as little as 300 years?

Surely even dumb as dishwater drongos from down under could be trusted with that much!

A better use for the world's quite massive stockpiles of fissile materials, than as bombs that at present, could destroy the world, many times over!

That said, that's for more technologically advanced nations with an already existing nuclear technology? Whereas we could pursue a much safer cheaper than coal thorium powered old technology outcome, given we know more than enough science for that!

And for the following self evident reasons. #1 there's no weapons spinoff. #2 there's far less waste, (around 5%) which is far less toxic and eminently suitable for long life space batteries! #3 We own enough of this material to power the world for up to 700 years, or ourselves for far longer if we use it as we should to rebuild our own manufacturing sector! And cheaper than coal power will allow us to do just that! And in spades as publicly owned and operated not for profit amenity!

And given it is properly sited, buried below in bedrock, able to very safely power cities with seriously cheaper power, (3-4 cents per kilowatt hour?) from central positions no longer dependant on the great white elephant of a very vulnerable national grid, with its massive transmission (around 11%) and distribution (around 64%) losses!

What? You think the (expanding) increasingly assertive propagandizing Chinese wanted to buy it out of their altruistic humanity? Get real and get accurate or get out of the way!
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 23 August 2016 11:33:33 AM
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