Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear-powered submarines have ‘long history of accidents

Nuclear-powered submarines have ‘long history of accidents’, Adelaide environmentalist warns,  ABC By Daniel Keane 17 Sept 21,

The plan to build nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia has alarmed anti-war and environmental campaigners, one of whom says the vessels have a “long history” of involvement in accidents across the globe.

Key points:

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nuclear submarines would be built in Adelaide
  • The Greens and other environmental groups say that raises serious public safety concerns
  • SA’s former nuclear royal commissioner says the risks can be managed

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a deal to construct the new fleet of at least eight submarines, declaring a new era of strategic alignment with the United States and United Kingdom, and a new trilateral security partnership called AUKUS.

All Australians benefit from the national interest decisions to protect Australians and to keep Australians safe,” Mr Morrison said.

But Friends of the Earth Australia’s anti-nuclear spokesperson Jim Green said the plan was more likely to compromise public safety than enhance it.

I’m worried about the security and proliferation aspects of this, I’m deeply concerned as an Adelaidean. A city of 1.3 million people is not the place to be building nuclear submarines,” he said.

“North-western Adelaide could be a target in the case of warfare. Of course, that’s a very low risk but if it does happen, the impacts would be catastrophic for Adelaide.

“You should build hazardous facilities away from population centres, partly because of the risk of accidents and partly because of the possibility that a nuclear submarine site could be targeted by adversaries.”

Dr Green said the question of what would become of the spent fuel remained unanswered, and there was “a long history of accidents involving nuclear submarines”.

Many — but not all — of those occurred in submarines built in the former Soviet Union, including the infamous K-19, which was subsequently dubbed “The Widowmaker” and became the subject of a Hollywood film.

After its reactor suffered a loss of coolant, members of the crew — more than 20 of whom died in the next two years — worked in highly radioactive steam to prevent a complete meltdown.

Two US naval nuclear submarines — USS Thresher and USS Scorpion — currently remain sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, at depths of more than two kilometres, after sinking during the 1960s.

More than 200 mariners died in the disasters, and neither vessels’ reactors, nor the nuclear weapons on board the Scorpion, have ever been recovered.

Two years ago, 14 Russian naval officers were laid to rest after they were killed in a fire on a nuclear-powered submersible in circumstances that were not fully revealed by the Kremlin.

Dr Green said Australia’s “nuclear power lobby” had “been quick off the mark”, and was already using the Prime Minister’s announcement to push for further involvement with the nuclear fuel cycle, including atomic energy and waste storage.

“The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle [Royal] Commission, in its 2016 report, estimated a cost of $145 billion to construct and operate a nuclear waste repository,” he said.

“No country in the world has got a repository to dispose of high-level nuclear waste, and the only repository in the world to dispose of intermediate-level nuclear waste, which is in the United States, was shut for three years from 2014 to 2017 because of a chemical explosion.”…………….https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-17/nuclear-submarines-prompt-environmental-and-conflict-concern/100470362

September 18, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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