Leading up to Paris Climate talks, the nuclear lobby is still going hard at spinning Lie No. 1 – that New Nuclear technology solves the radioactive trash problem. But for October, the focus is on Lie No. 2, – that ionising radiation is harmless, indeed , good for you.
Their favourite tactic is to confuse the public, by comparing the harmless Potassium K in bananas (of very low radioactive intensity), with man-made Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 (of very high radioactive intensity). Their next favourite is to promote the quack theory of “hormesis” – the claim that ionising radiation is actually beneficial to health.
CLIMATE CHANGE. Still possible to contain climate change: Paris UN conference will be critical. Pope Francis’ US visit has triggered awareness of climate change as a moral issue. Bank of England warns on climate change’s threat to global stability. Coming refugee crisis as sea levels rise on Pacific Islands.
South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission. Analysis of the pro nuclear submissions shows that the major aim is to get South Australia to set up “New Generation” nuclear reactors. (yes, they’re the ones that still exist only on paper). The nuclear companies, not South Australia, would pay the costs of setup – because Australia would pay them back later from the proceeds of importing radioactive trash. The Commission is paying lip service only to renewable energy as a”low carbon’ option.
Of course most of these submissions come from nuclear companies, from individuals connected to nuclear technology, and from a couple of wannabe famous South Australian politicians.
However, the nuclear front group The Breakthrough Institute also has a submission published.
Meanwhile, at the public hearing in Adelaide , October 1st, Dr Arjun Makhijani explained the diseconomics of nuclear power, the irrelevance of it to climate action, (too slow), and the futility of the drive for Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs).
Nuclear lobby aiming to overturn an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act ban
BHP and Toro energy look to climate action as the reason why the uranium market ( now in doldrums) should have a ‘renaissance’, though, interestingly, BHP actually mentions the possibility of another nuclear disaster mucking things up for them. Toro’s Wiluna uranium project is now stalled indefinitely.
Renewable energy. Australian govt to promote battery storage, through Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Australia world top in household solar panel installations. Canberra school Amaroo to get benefits from ACT’s largest rooftop solar system.
The nuclear industry is desperate to get itself recognised at the Paris climate talks as a beneficial ‘low carbon’ technology.
Simultaneously, the nuclear lobby is desperate to promote its shonky South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.
Lie No.2 is their story that low dose ionising radiation is harmless, even good for you. (LieNo. 1 was that ‘new nuclear’ solves the radioactive trash problem – that lie addressed here in September) . They dismiss the message of the World Health Organisation that there is no safe level of ionising radiation. They promote the quack theory of ‘radiation hormesis”, and confuse the public with completely inaccurate comparisons with Potassium K in bananas (an extremely lower radiation intensity than Cesium 137, strontium 90 etc from nuclear fission).
The nuclear lobby’s lies on radiation are promoted by Australian nuclear lobbyists such as Barry Brook, Ben Heard, Oscar Archer.
Over the next 3 months, the nuclear lobby’s focus will be on 3 major lies – 1. the lie about Gen IV reactors, esp thorium and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) solving nuclear wastes, 2. the lie about “harmless” low dose ionising radiation, 3. the lie about nuclear solving climate change.
The nuclear lobby’s goal is to resuscitate their dying industry – to create a new nuclear renaissance.
For September, we focus on Nuclear Lie No. 1 – “New Gen IV reactors, esp thorium and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) WILL SOLVE THE NUCLEAR WASTE PROBLEM.”
That lie is terribly important, because new nuclear power cannot go ahead until they have convinced the world that radioactive trash is a”resource” not the garbage that it really is.
“Generation IV” nuclear reactors do not exist. The dream of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors remains a mirage. The Small Modular Nuclear Reactor has been shown to be uneconomic (has to be ordered en masse , has to be funded by tax-parers), vulnerable to terrorism, and wouldn’t be ready for decades. All of them still leave toxic wastes – smaller amounts, but so toxic and long-lasting that they require the same volume of deep burial space as the wastes that they purport to remove.
That hasn’t stopped the nuclear enthusiasts from conning governments for funding, and in the UK, even getting themselves classed as a charity!!
Australia has both an extraordinary opportunity to lead on climate change action, and an extraordinary role in promoting the polluting coal and nuclear industries. Australians can take their pick.
The choices before us:
To develop renewable energy, energy efficiency, and phase out coal and gas, and be a voice for action internationally. This can happen only with a change of government. We need a double dissolution. Australia has a uniquely strange Prime Minister, who doesn’t care if he is kicked out in the 2016 federal election, which he surely would be. Abbott is happy to carry out the corporate agenda of the Institute of Public Affairs, and then retire to comfortable well-funded complacency, knowing that he has served his IPA masters well.
To go along with the Abbott agenda – quite a complex business, involving ramping up the coal and gas industries, while now suggesting that well, perhaps there is a greenhouse gas problem – so therefore we need nuclear power.
Think about the illogicality of that. If nuclear power were, in fact, an answer to climate change (which it’s not – too slow, too polluting in itself) then there might be some argument for a little chilly country like Sweden to use nuclear power. For a big sunny, windy country like Australia – nuclear power makes no sense at all.
Look out for the Australian nuclear lobby, headed by the supposed
environmentalist Barry Brook, which is now enjoying global fame, a leadership position in the world’s pro nuclear campaign for 2015.
The latest propaganda from Australia’s nuclear lobby came from the BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission to the Energy White Paper, (due in September). They suggest a chain of small modular nuclear reactors along the East Coast.
Nuclear power and sea level rise – All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.
Nuclear power and water shortage – Climate Change is already bringing droughts and changed rainfall patterns. Even if the vloume of rain might be the same, or greater, with the warming planet – it’s not much help if it falls in the oceans, or if it falls intermittently – in flooding torrents.
As water becomes scarcer, and more expensive, nuclear power becomes a very uneconomic way to use it.
As temperatures rise, nuclear reactors will more and more often be forced to shut down – adding to the already well known diseconomics of nuclear power
But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
I felt that I must go back to a “theme” for this month, because this one is such an important one.
The nuclear industry has put it over the world with a number of lies. Yet one by one, each nuclear lie has been exposed.
Nuclear power is not clean. It’s not cheap. It’s not safe. It’s notnecessary.
Today – those nuclear promoters who in the past denied that global warming was happening – are now changing their tune.
The only seemingly valid argument for nuclear power is that it will “combat global warming” because nuclear is “emissions free. It is “low carbon”
But that’s just another lie.
Global action on Climate Change is urgently needed. Australia used to be the leader in this. Now we are going backwards, under the leadership of Big Business puppet Prime Minister TonyAbbott.
The global nuclear lobby looks to Australia to be the sucker again – not just for uranium mining, but for nuclear militarism, nuclear power, and nuclear waste dumping.
But – hows to sell this to the public?
Here’s where they come up with the latest and biggest lie. And Abbott is just the man to spout the complete fallacy that nuclear power can do anything to combat climate change.
As the global nuclear lobby, and Kevin Scarce’s South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission continue their machinations, there is a powerful force ensuring that their new “nuclear renaissance” is not going to happen in Australia, or anywhere.
Climate change is bringing extreme temperatures and weather events, and sea level rise, to Australia.
For Australia, the threats from global warming are very real:
- bushfires would pose the greatest threat to any nuclear facilities, (as Ukraine and USA are already finding out).
- Droughts bring water shortages, meaning that precious water is not easily available for water guzzling nuclear reactors.
- Where inland reactors are water-cooled – the threat to river life of heat pollution becomes greater.
- There would be great danger to the Great Artesian Basin increases, especially for any nuclear facilities located in South Australia
- For coastal nuclear facilities, sea level rise and storm surges are dangers.
- For many nuclear facilities ( reactors, fuel processing, waste disposal), coastal or inland, flooding brings more danger.
Now there is a concerted attack, led by the polluting industries, and promoted by the Murdoch media empire, to stop Australia taking action on climate change. The push is to get rid of Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, much as the polluting lobby got rid of the previous Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, when he aimed to bring in a super profits mining tax.
Somewhat isolated from world opinion, Australians are unaware of climate action being taken by many countries, with carbon pricing successfully operating. Australians are vulnerable to the conspiracy theories of Lord Monckton and others on the fringe of science, as these are given respect and credence. Meanwhile the media largely ignores genuine scientists from reputable climate and metereological agencies.
Yet, strangely, the same lobby that denies global warming promotes nuclear power as the solution to global warming!
Since around 2003 -4 the global nuclear industry has positioned itself as part of the solution to climate change. In what has been an unprecedented attempt to fool governments and the public about its merits, and to minimise its dangers, the nuclear industry has been cavalier with the truth, to say the very least.
It claims that it is greenhouse friendly, and therefore should be a sought-after energy source for the future. The only part of the nuclear industry’s operations which is not a heavy greenhouse gas emitter is the boiling of the water in the reactor. At every other stage in the chain, from uranium mining, to milling, to transport, to enrichment, to construction of reactors, to re-processing, to storage of waste (probably requiring more transport), to making of weapons, to de-commissioning of reactors, greenhouse gases are emitted….
All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise
Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.
Besides those in France, many nuclear reactors in Japan, the US, the UK, Belgium and China are located on or near sea coast or rivers.
To resuscitate the nuclear industry, its lobbyists must convince the world that they have the solution – to turn radioactive trash into a “valuable resource” – by the new magic “waste eating” Generation IV nuclear reactors.
But those reactors don’t exist. They might be dangerous. They’re astronomically expensive. They will be a terrorist target. And they themselves still leave a smaller amount of highly toxic, long lasting radioactive trash. And that trash is so highly toxic that it requires a large storage space.
But what if – what if – the nuclear industry could convince a far away country that it could make $squillions by importing radioactive trash?
And gee whiz – the nuclear industry would pay up front to set up the new gimmicks (Australia could pay them back later for these).
Australia could be the salvation – of the world’s most toxic, dangerous, and unaffordable industry! Bingo!
We must admire the gall, and the duplicity, of the nuclear lobby
On the one hand, just recently – they’re making a big fuss about how serious climate change is – because hey presto! – they claim (falsely) that nuclear power can solve the problem of climate change – and save the world!
On the other hand – not a peep out of the nuclear lobby, about how badly climate change already is, and will, more and more, do damage to nuclear facilities, and make them ever more expensive.
It’s no surprise that the nuclear lobby is going all out at the moment to convince the world that ionising radiation is not dangerous – indeed , that it is good for human heath.
Because – when there’s a climate disaster – wildfire, flooding, storm surges – affected nuclear facilities might release ionising radiation into the air, the water, the food chain.
No other technology carries that particular threat. So – despite the evidence from Chernobyl, and Fukushima, the nuclear lobby pretends that the risk of ionising radiation into the ecosphere is nothing special. But it is. Only nuclear fission and its waste products carry that danger.
Pro nuclear policy will be on the agenda for the Labor Party
The 47th ALP National Conference will be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 July 2015.
In February, Bill ,Shorten said that the Australian Labor Party refused to back the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission. Labor was to refuse to consider the production, enrichment and storage of nuclear power. Labor has maintained consistent opposition to the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. It is also “strongly opposed” to the importation and storage of nuclear waste sourced from overseas in Australia.
BUT – that’s no longer true – and Gary Gray, Labor shadow Minister for Resources, waxed lyrical about the coming complete about-turn on policy, speaking on ABC Radio National – “I think this is a good Royal Commission, and I am hopeful that the Inquiry will produce decisions and a direction that’s beneficial” Gary went on with an optimistic forecast for Australia to “produce more uranium ” “participate in the nuclear fuel cycle, by moving higher through the value chain” . Gary sees no solution for climate change “ that doesn’t see a big role for nuclear power”.
AUDIO Labor set to debate expanding Australia’s role in the global nuclear fuel cycle http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/labor-set-to-debate-expanding-australias-role/6436276 1 May 2015 More uranium mining, more Australian involvement in the global nuclear fuel cycle, and the potential for taking back spent Australian nuclear fuel. With the prospect of bi-partisan support, these options are all on the table with moves to free up the Labor Party’s nuclear policy at the ALP National Conference in Melbourne in July.
Labor in South Australia is already considering its nuclear options, with a Royal Commission set up earlier this year. The nuclear re-think here in Australia comes as national nuclear societies meet in France over coming days to sign a Nuclear for Climate declaration.