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The Forum > Article Comments > Nuclear politics: taking the A train > Comments

Nuclear politics: taking the A train : Comments

By Alison Broinowski, published 17/10/2007

Australia's entrance into the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership will leave a legacy much longer than Howard's reign.

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Thank you, Alison Broinowski, for showing up the government’s secrecy over this whole nuclear deal – planned for Australia if the coalition is returned.

There are so many matters of concern about the nuclear fuel cycle – that sometimes it is hard to know where to start in explaining the hazards:
We hear about the effects of radiation on health – of the uranium miners, of aboriginal communities, and of the general community.

There is the virtually permanent environmental damage caused by just about every phase on the cycle, with nuclear wastes as the most well-known.

There is the essential connection between “peaceful” nuclear power, and nuclear weapons and war.

There is the subtle but effective downgrading of truly clean energy technologies, and of progressive concepts of decentralised energy sources – in favour of the highly centralised nuclear power plant and grid. At the same time, the centralised system provides perfect targets for terrorists.

Yet with all these, none worries me as much as the secrecy and removal of civil liberties that are intrinsic to the nuclear cycle.

Obviously these factors do not worry the Howard government. As Fortescue Mining, Lang O'Rourke and Austrack spend $millions for isolated area rail lines in Western Australia,(surely for nuclear plans) - as some members of the Northern Land Council quietly opt for handing over traditional land for the nuclear industry, as John Carlson in Vienna sews up secret deals with the GNEP – it is pretty obvious that it is all being set up in secret.

With its history of lies about children overboard, about WMDs, about the Wheat Board scandal – the Howard government is well experienced in the secret deals needed for nuclear. Now we learn that the very secretive Exclusive Brethren are quietly funding the Howard election campaign.

Will the mainstream media have the guts to expose the nuclear secret deals?
Christina Macpherson
Posted by ChristinaMac, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 10:06:38 AM
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Such ignorance!

As petrol approaches the magical $10 per litre, green renewable energy options will fail. They all depend on material, energy and transport feedstocks based on cheap OIL. No green energy schema is viable except Geothermal power. Geothermal is just nuclear power where the Earth's core is the reactor, but technical difficulties mean NUCLEAR power will be required befor PEAKOIL to cover all bases.

The rants about the dangers of nuclear wastes is likesaying that the greatest threat to our survival is the Howard's secretive, dangerous Tse-Tse flies in Africa. In fact the greatest threat is women having children. Nuclear dangers are totally insignificant compared to the human sex drive which is the seed for violence, murder, incalculable disease, betrayal and endless wars throughout human history. It is ignorantly and wantonly pushing us unsustainably towards 8 billion people by 2025 when OIL and renewable energy inventories will be back at per capita STONE-AGE levels.

All I can say to women-against-NUCLEAR is that you should wake up and better research the facts if you want to keep having CHILDREN.

The Thermodynamics of green energy options approaching PEAKOIL indicates extreme chaos. The world's population will revert to a Back-to-the-Future endpoint around 1900 before oil was in common use.
That scenario as we know from history can only support 2 billion people. The green energy technologies that non=scientific people assume will save us just won't be there because they depend on OIL.

If we use NUCLEAR now as a temporary bridge over PEAKOIL we might just make it to around 2050 by which time the technical and political problems against HOT-ROCKS-GEOTHERMAL power will by necessity be solved and we will have survived.

In the meantime, keep having kids, keep immigrating Australia's fool's economic-growth paradise, keep ignorant of a true NUCLEAR perspective. Like the Titanic, the faster it all gets, the harder Australia will crash into the not-so-far-away PEAKOIL iceberg.
Posted by KAEP, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 11:59:13 AM
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I think these proposals should be welcomed. I'd go further and suggest that Australia also gets into fuel reprocessing and enrichment. The Australian developed Silex process for laser enrichment has been licensed to US and Japanese interests; it would be a shame not to use it on home soil. For the sake of brevity I'd summarise the other arguments as follows;
1) there is a lot of money to be made and jobs created
2) nuclear energy can displace baseload power generation by coal
3) Australia is morally obliged to influence the full nuclear fuel cycle
4) our nuclear virginity went with the British A bomb tests in the 60s.
Posted by Taswegian, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 12:12:49 PM
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I also would like to thank Dr Broinowski for revealing what has been concealed.
I guess we should be used to this for as the Downing Street Memorandum demonstrated we were also deprived of true information on Iraq.
Nuclear is a contentious issue one that Prof. Ian Lowe has just tackled in Quarterly essay 27. A he says doubtless the article does not canvass all possible conclusions but like Dr Broinowsky he does attempt a balanced reading of the situation, one we have not and do not receive from our trusted politicians.
Here of course market economics operate and winning justifies the past in to-days usage.
Maybe trust is a past and lazy attitude?
Posted by untutored mind, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 12:38:57 PM
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Allison's essay reveals some useful information about the infamous Dick Cheney's exploitation of business and Government influence. Naturally Allison also indulges in environmentally pure positions that are the luxury of parties that will never run the country.

I see some consensus in the opposing positions of this debate in terms of Australia conserving its uranium for later, efficient use by Australians. This means we don't sell it fast and cheap to China, Russia and India. This runs a bit contrary to what I've said before on OLO but I but I reckon the developing an opinion is better than defending stale views.

The sudden rush of uranium sales suggests that Alexander Downer may be arranging a post Parliamentary sinecure for himself in the energy trade including uranium. He knows he won't have his (ex Party Leader consolation prize) Ministerial post much longer.

We shouldn't allow uranium buyers long term contracts that may result in sales significantly below the world price. Instead Uranium should be sold at daily market prices like oil and gold.

As has been argued above we should control the fuel cycle.

- Australia should be the country that enriches its uranium and then sells it for a higher price instead of Russia enriching our uranium and then onselling it at a marked up price.

- development of a fast breeder reactor to make use of plutonium product should be considered in future. This ultimately better uses the uranium resource.

Australians should realise that our gas and coal reserves will (or can) be useful bridging energy sources for several decades. I think we should leave uranium in the ground until it is an economical energy source and not sell it cheaply beforehand.

Posted by plantagenet, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 3:52:57 PM
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PS. On second reading I reckon I was a little harsh on the author, Alison Broinowski, in the sense that she's an independent academic who made some telling points about the economic realities of trade, transport and uranium.

She should not for a minute be confused (like moi for a second) with that Democrat politician, whose written on the same subject, Senator Allison.

Posted by plantagenet, Wednesday, 17 October 2007 4:08:39 PM
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