Australian news, and some related international items

Reactorvated: new nuke push ramps up

The global giants of nuclear power are in disarray. As Westinghouse Electric, Toshiba, AREVA struggle in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a new breed of sophisticated nuclear campaigners, led by US billionaire Bill Gates, are spruiking “Small Modular Reactors”. Veteran anti-nuclear campaigner Noel Wauchope investigates the pro-nuclear push, the smart social media offensives and the latest government lobbying. , 15 Apr 17 

We don’t hear much about this, yet. It’s an international nuclear industry plan to develop new nuclear reactors, reactors which are still only in the design phase.

The Treaties Committee of the Australian Parliament is holding an inquiry into the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems. Australia already signed up for this in June 2016, without any public discussion. Now the plan is to extend Australia’s involvement and the Committee has called for submissions by April 28, 2017.

Most people would think the idea of expanding the nuclear industry in Australia was dead and gone, following last year’s debacle of the South Australian government’s attempts to get a nuclear waste import business set up in Australia. The latest plan however is different……..

In the current climate of financial crisis for AREVA, Westinghouse, Toshiba and so on, “new nuclear” companies such as Terrestrial Energy, Transatomic and NuScale now pitch their products as a radically different alternative to conventional nuclear reactors.

This new nuclear propaganda is certainly out there, but it is not yet prevalent in Australia. The nuclear lobby’s first step is to get government commitments in principle, getting Australia in step with USA and the other nations in the campaign. While the government is certainly well aware of the rejuvenated pro-nuclear campaign, the soft-sell to the Australian public is barely underway. It will come……..

The most important target however is the public, and particularly youth via social media……..

It is quite a small number of individuals who produce both the wordy, technical presentations for government, industry and mainstream media and the bright and snappy messages for the young and for non-technical environmentalists…….

In Australia, this nuclear PR is typified by the work of Ben Heard, who sends sophisticated submissions to government, tweets constantly, and who champions the environment via the nuclear front group Bright New World…….

Now targeting youth via new media the spin has taken on humanitarian and nature-loving elements. Although a collective of billionaires and big corporations are behind it, it promotes an alternative to big corporations. It is about saving the planet. It is about endless cheap and pollution-free energy for all, recycling nuclear wastes, combating climate change, promoting the beneficial uses of ionising radiation, freeing people from irrational fears and from anti-science.

The SMR lobby has been successful already in gaining the attention of government and media for technologies which do not yet even commercially exist. In today’s world of “alternative facts” this success is not surprising. It remains to be seen if “new nuclear” can win the public approval that it needs.


April 16, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster

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