Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power makes no economic or environmental sense for Australia

The Australian Greens have strongly reminded the Government that nuclear power is not the solution to climate change.The Greens spokesperson on nuclear issues, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said nuclear power made no economic or environmental sense.

“Nuclear power generation means uranium mining at the start of the process – which involves serious environmental contamination, and it means nuclear waste at the end of the process – a problem to which no one has put forward a credible solution,” said Senator Ludlam. “And the power generation itself raises serious questions.”

“The report from Dr Mark Diesendorf, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Studies, found that nuclear energy will be more expensive than most forms of renewable energy by 2020,” he said. “Dr Diesendorf’s report, delivered yesterday, found that the cheapest renewable energy sources – including landfill gas, onshore wind, conventional geothermal and hydro – are already cost-competitive with conventional nuclear energy power plants… By 2020, offshore wind farms, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics are all projected to be less expensive than nuclear energy.”

Dr Diesendorf found that the cost of building a nuclear power plant has risen rapidly since 2002, from more than $US2000 per kw of generation capacity installed, to about $US7400 per kw.
Senator Ludlam said Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and two senators from the ALP Right had it “disastrously wrong” on nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

“Ziggy Switkowski, Chair of the Board of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, said in 2006 that nuclear power has no capacity to contribute to emissions reductions in Australia by 2020 and limited capacity to reduce emissions by 2030,” said Senator Ludlam.

The 2006 Switkowski Report also noted that establishing a nuclear power industry “would substantially increase the volume of radioactive waste to be managed in Australia and require management of significant quantities of high level waste.”
Over a 50-year lifespan, 50 reactors would be responsible for 1.8 billion tonnes of low level radioactive tailings waste, assuming the uranium came from Olympic Dam. The reactors would be responsible for 430,000 tonnes of depleted uranium waste, a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. The reactors would directly produce 75,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste and 750,000 cubic metres of low level and intermediate level waste.

“Those within the Government calling for nuclear power need to think again. It is not safe, it is not affordable and it will not address the challenge of climate change,” said Senator Ludlam. Nuclear ‘solution’ a dead end for Labor | Greens MPs

December 1, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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