Dr Helen Caldicott’s Submission on all 4 Nuclear Royal Commission Issues Papers
Submission to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, by Helen Caldicott on July 24, 2015 I begin my submission to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission by posting an article which I wrote for the Australian Medical Student Journal, which outlines in some detail the medical implications of the whole nuclear fuel chain.
The impact of the nuclear crisis on global health
Due to my personal concerns regarding the ignorance of the world’s media and politicians about radiation biology after the dreadful accident at Fukushima in Japan, I organized a 2 day symposium at the NY Academy of Medicine on March 11 and 12, 2013 … [ to read the full text of this article, click on this link: http://www.helencaldicott.com/the-impact-of-the-nuclear-crisis-on-global-health/. The link will open in a new tab or window. Close it to return to this page ]
Now to answer some of the questions posed by the Royal Commission
Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power
By Arjun Makhijani and Michele Boyd
A Fact Sheet Produced by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Physicians for Social Responsibility
Thorium “fuel” has been proposed as an alternative to uranium fuel in nuclear reactors. There are not “thorium reactors,” but rather proposals to use thorium as a “fuel” in different types of reactors, including existing light‐water reactors and various fast breeder reactor designs.
Thorium, which refers to thorium‐232, is a radioactive metal that is about three times more abundant than uranium in the natural environment. Large known deposits are in Australia, India, and Norway. Some of the largest reserves are found in Idaho in the U.S. The primary U.S. company advocating for thorium fuel is Thorium Power (www.thoriumpower.com).
Contrary to the claims made or implied by thorium proponents, however, thorium doesn’t solve the proliferation, waste, safety, or cost problems of nuclear power, and it still faces major technical hurdles for commercialization.
Not a Proliferation Solution……..
Not a Waste Solution……
Ongoing Technical Problems…….
Not an Economic Solution……..
The global nuclear industry is in a state of decline partly as a result of the disastrous accident at Fukushima but also as a result of the rapid expansion of ever cheaper solar and wind power together with conservation………..
Emerging technologies that may affect the decision for South Australia to invest in the nuclear fuel chain……….
Lessons from Fukushima and other nuclear accidents
Nuclear power plants, whatever their design, can never be made safe – they are at risk because of human fallibility (causes of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), computer error, hacking, loss of external electricity supply, results of global warming with sea level rise or tsumamis with flooding of the control room, hurricanes, heating of water supplies such as occurred in France some years ago when the river water was too hot to cool the reactors. 1000 megawatt reactors require up to one million gallons per minute to keep them cool.
Below [on original] is a presentation by a very experienced nuclear engineer named Arnie Gunderson re the risks of another nuclear accident………
Nuclear power plants do not stand alone. They are supported by a massive industrial infrastructure which is dependent upon the extensive use of fossil fuels and other potent greenhouse gases. I refer you to this excellent paper which puts nuclear power and global warming into perspective
Nuclear wastes are multifactorial and are composed of many different radioactive isotopes, some which last seconds and others which remain radioactive for millions of years.
I have described the risks involved by establishing nuclear facilities for the generation of electricity from nuclear fuels above. Nothing can be done to ensure that the risks described above can be prevented, as there are no safe levels of radiation, each dose of radiation is cumulative, and the nuclear fuel chain will continue to contaminate the environment and human bodies with increased levels of radiation for the rest of time. And this generation will be long gone.
There are no safeguards as addressed above that can, nor will ever address the dangers arising from the generation of nuclear energy
QUESTION 3.15 and 3.16
Numerous models and designs for Generation 1V reactors have been mooted recently for South Australia.
Here is an article I wrote summarizing the latest information on these proposed reactors
Small Modular Reactors…….
Liquid-metal fast reactors (PRISM).
Transportation accidents occur every day whether on roads, freeways or railways.
The introduction of the world’s nuclear waste into the relatively pristine state of South Australia will sully its international reputation which relies upon its outstanding wine production plus its magnificent food and agriculture, renowned throughout Australia and indeed the world
I can reassure you that this outstanding and well deserved reputation would almost certainly be severely impaired if South Australia decides to embark upon a major industrial undertaking of the nuclear fuel chain together with nuclear reactors, enrichment facilities, reprocessing plants and radioactive waste storage.
In fact from my experience communicating with knowledgeable people all over the world, the reputation of Australian food in general would also suffer.
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