Nuclear Untold Facts

by Des Menz posted in Nuclear Energy and Waste

A grand experiment is under way. A Citizens’ Jury is convening during the month of October to arrive at a verdict on the proposed nuclear waste operation conceived by the Royal Commission.

See previous posts …

Nuclear Waste Dump or Bust?

Bizarre Nuclear Dream or Panacea

Since the release of the Royal Commission’s Report in May 2016, I have been investigating all about nuclear. Here’s what I have discovered.

  • South Australia has a Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000. It was established by a Liberal state government.
  • The Royal Commission’s activity was unlawful under that Act.
  • There is overwhelming bipartisan support in the South Australian Parliament for anything “nuclear”.
  • The South Australian Parliament changed the Act to accommodate the cost of the “community consultation” phase of the findings in the Royal Commission’s Report; this action is an admission that the Royal Commission itself was unlawful.
  • There has been a breach of the public trust, but the public has yet to realise it. There has been negligiblet focus on public trust about the nuclear waste storage issue.
  • The concept of a high-level international nuclear waste operation in Australia has been on the agenda for many years, at least for the past 18 years.
  • Former Prime Minister Howard was hatching a plan with former President George Bush for Australia to receive US high-level nuclear waste in 2006, under the “Global Nuclear Energy Partnership”. 
  • Many connected business leaders in SA have been pushing for importation of high-level nuclear waste for years, predominantly because of the so-called (and fallacious, as we will see) economic benefits.
  • Nuclear “fuel leasing” has also been on the lips of politicians and business people for many years, and the people involved as “expert witnesses” to the Royal Commission are behind such businesses.
  • The federal government is complicit in expanding the nuclear industry. 
  • Having now got this point, I then learnt about World Nuclear Industry Status Reports, and discovered that the global nuclear electricity generation industry is in decline in terms of global energy production.
  • Global wind and solar energy production has disrupted the nuclear industry in an incredible way, so much so that renewables now dwarf global nuclear energy output.
  • Nuclear power generation is too expensive and too risky and is unable to be constructed without huge government subsidies.
  • China and India, those two countries so often referred to during debates about coal, produce far greater amounts of wind energy than from nuclear.
  • Kazakhstan is by far the world’s dominant supplier of uranium, and has been since 2009.
  • Uranium oxide mining in Australia, and indeed in South Australia, has declined by 34% since 2007. During the past 10 years SA has received an average of just $12.8 million per year from uranium oxide royalties.
  • The Royal Commission’s consultant Jacobs MCM report on the economic feasibility has been denounced by other economists, none more so than Emeritus Professor of economics, Professor Richard Blandy.
  • Contrary to what is shown as an economic bonanza for the state, Professor Blandy says it is likely that the nuclear waste dump would lose money.
  • The Commission’s Report and the promotional pamphlets made available to the public during the “community consultation” roadshow are misleading and deceptive in terms of the so-called net revenue of $113 billion and the $445 billion dollar “State Wealth Fund that have been revealed. There is zero evidence to back these figures up, and therefore it is negligent to the extreme to “sell” the case for a nuclear waste dump based on these figures.
  • South Australia has sponsored by way of it’s own taxpayers, a federal government responsibility in the form of the Royal Commission, and the subsequent “community consultation” phase. The cost at the time of writing has exceeded $10 million, and is rising.
  • The issue of national interest has not been considered by the Royal Commission, nor during the “consultation” phase, and likely not by the Citizens’ Juries.
  • The state government has not sought the views of the rest of the nation and of other states in the Federation, particularly as the concept is about importing extremely dangerous nuclear waste into the country via national maritime boundaries, and subsequently to leave it on the Australian continent forever.
  • It is the federal government that has sole power to approve any nuclear activity in Australia, and yet it has allowed a state of the Federation to assume federal responsibilities as a proxy. 
  • The federal government has displayed no appetite to become involved in the process of the Royal Commission and the subsequent “community consultation”, except in presenting a weak submission. It has sidestepped its national responsibility, but of much greater concern it has ignored its responsibility to the general public.
  • Confined to just 7% of the Australian population (i.e. SA’s population), the “community consultation” and Citizens’ Juries only provide a snapshot of public opinion about high-level nuclear waste importation and storage in Australia; the true public interest can only be revealed by national referendum. This has not been countenanced by the state or federal government.
  • The Commission Report has largely avoided the issue of nuclear fuel reprocessing and recycling, and the present-day research that exists. 
  • Nuclear spent fuel reprocessing has the potential to limit high0level nuclear waste to one-fifth current levels, results in a much reduced attenuation period, and would almost eliminate uranium mining.
  • The Commission’s Report is at odds with what the World Nuclear Association has reported. Technology around reprocessing is significantly advanced today, and is exceedingly more beneficial to the producers of nuclear waste than what the Commission Report advances - geological burial in South Australia.
  • It is an enduring failure of the nuclear industry that the issue of nuclear waste has not been universally resolved. 
  • The Commission’s view about “international consensus” for geological disposal is disputed and is actually based on a workshop about nuclear waste more than 20 years ago. What will technology produce in the next 20 years? Will majority reprocessing and recycling happen?
  • The state government has many acute environmental issues and documented risks - such as climate change, biodiversity loss and decline, water security, energy security, rural and regional decline, natural resources decline - from which there is a deliberate absence of action. Why should another high risk nuclear waste storage venture be accommodated when existing problems continue to increase?
  • Significant uncertainties exist and will continue to persist, about geopolitical issues. We can not know what the political structure of nuclear waste nations would be in the far future. We can not predict how safe the world will be. The trans-shipment of nuclear waste is very risky.
  • Humans contrive a future based on hope, but it is the consideration of probability that eludes many, including the “experts”. The probability of a catastrophic event is dismissed.
  • South Australia’s Environment Protection Act 1993 states that committing environmental harm contravenes the Act and is prosecutable. “Environmental harm is any harm, or potential harm, to the environment (of whatever degree or duration)”, and “potential harm includes risk of harm and future harm”. The Act then states that …

         “environmental harm is to be treated as serious environmental harm if it involves actual or
harm to the health or safety of human beings that is of a high impact or on a wide
          scale, or other actual or potential environmental harm (not being merely an environmental
          nuisance) that is of a high impact or on a wide scale”

         A careful reading and interpretation of the Act implies that a nuclear waste storage operation  
         could never comply with the law.

  • No pollutant - and in our case, imported nuclear waste -  can be brought into the state. The Environment Protection Act 1993 again … Section 9 states;“Where a person causes a pollutant to come within the State or causes environmental harm within the State, by conduct engaged in outside the State; and the conduct would, if engaged in within the State, constitute a contravention of this Act, the person is liable to a penalty in respect of the contravention as if the conduct were engaged in by the person within the State.”
  • The whole concept about importing nuclear waste from overseas is totally contrary to the most important object of the Environment Protection Act 1993ecologically sustainable development (ESD).
  • A nuclear waste storage operation would result in an abrogation of long-standing agreements about ecologically sustainable development with the international community.

All these conclusions, and the discussion around how they evolved, are in a report I wrote.

DOWNLOAD the report ...

nuclear? Getting Clear On The Other Facts

I want this report to circulate widely. Can you help? Want to comment? 

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