Australian news, and some related international items

Disarray in New South Wales Right-wing parties, over One Nation’s Bill to overturn ban on uranium mining

Environmental groups have been critical of the government’s consideration of Mr Latham’s bill, with the Nature Conservation Council warning uranium mining would threaten water supply.

Berejiklian government to pursue its own uranium push, By Alexandra Smith, August 24, 2020

The Berejiklian government will pursue its own push to allow uranium mining in NSW, after cabinet ministers backed away from supporting One Nation’s nuclear power bill in the upper house.

The bill, introduced by Mark Latham, would lift the 33-year ban on uranium mining and nuclear power, but on Monday night cabinet agreed that it would consider its own bill.

In March, Deputy Premier John Barilaro stunned colleagues when he said his party would support Mr Latham’s bill, despite not taking the issue to the Nationals’ party room.

Mr Barilaro, a long-time supporter of nuclear power, said the government should “lift the ban on nuclear energy” and confirmed his party would support it.

But the move angered several senior ministers, with one saying: “I did not get into Parliament to support a One Nation bill”, while another said: “Crossbenchers don’t set the government’s agenda”.

A shift in policy around uranium mining in NSW has still not been considered by the Coalition joint party rooms, which will not meet this week because only the upper house is sitting.

Mr Barilaro has now been tasked with commissioning more research around uranium mining and will report back to cabinet before any policy decisions are made.

A senior minister said Transport Minister Andrew Constance told cabinet that he could not support the One Nation bill because it could significantly impact electorates, including Bega.

Another minister told cabinet that there needed to be strategic and economic merit and community consultation around uranium mining.

Asked about the bill before it was presented to cabinet on Monday, NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said uranium was not a viable resource.

“Right now the uranium price is about $30 per pound, that is well below the price needed to extract this from the ground. I think this is more about headlines than actually going to see anything result from digging it out of the ground,” Mr Kean said.

A senior minister, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the issue was before cabinet, said “uranium mining will never happen so it’s just about letting Barra [Barilaro] have a win.”

“Sometimes the fights with Barra are just not worth it,” the minister said.

Mr Latham could bring the bill on for a vote this week, after the Legislative Council was recalled for another week of sitting days. The bill has been sitting on the business paper for more than a year.

The upper house is also expected to focus this week on troubled public insurer icare.

Environmental groups have been critical of the government’s consideration of Mr Latham’s bill, with the Nature Conservation Council warning uranium mining would threaten water supply.

The council’s chief executive Chris Gambian said the “sweetheart deal with One Nation yet again places multinationals ahead of the people of regional and rural NSW”.

A parliamentary inquiry report recommended the government support the nuclear power bill.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Uranium ban brought benefit to New South Wales

Uranium ban brought us benefit, Newcastle Herald, Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation 23 Aug 20, 

THE state government’s proposed removal of a long-standing and popular ban on uranium mining in New South Wales flies in the face of evidence, community interest and market reality. The global uranium price remains depressed following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is not likely to recover. The uranium market is over supplied and existing producers are shelving projects across Australia and around the world.

In November 2019 the CEO of the world’s largest uranium miner, Canadian company Cameco, stated that “not only does it not make sense to invest in future primary supply, even the lowest-cost producers are deciding to preserve long-term value by leaving uranium in the ground.”

The ban has served NSW well. It has provided policy certainty and avoided the radioactive waste and legacy mine issues affecting other places, including Kakadu, where a massive $1 billion clean-up is underway at the former Ranger mine. This poorly conceived piece of gesture politics could lead to lower tier and inexperienced mining companies cutting corners and increasing environmental and community risk and it simply makes no sense for NSW to jump aboard a sinking nuclear ship. NSW’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Pointless: Removal of New South Wales Uranium mining ban, as uranium glut continues, and nuclear industry declines

Nuke South Wales?, ACF, Dave Sweeney, 20 Aug 20, 

The proposed removal of a long-standing and popular ban on uranium mining in New South Wales is empty gesture politics that flies in the face of community interest and market reality, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said.

The global uranium price remains depressed following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is not likely to recover.

“The nuclear power age is winding up, so it makes no sense for NSW to jump aboard a sinking ship,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“The ban is popular and has served NSW well, providing policy certainty and avoiding the radioactive waste and legacy mine issues affecting other places, including Kakadu, where a massive $1 billion clean-up is underway at the former Ranger mine.

“This is empty gesture politics that could lead to lower tier and inexperienced mining companies cutting corners and increasing environmental and community risk.

“This poorly conceived plan puts political posturing above community benefit and could lead to increased pollution and risk for NSW communities and environment for scant gain.

“NSW’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive – this tired political fix is no substitute for a credible and effective energy policy.

“Deputy Premier Barilaro might see this as in the Nationals’ interest, but it is certainly not in the national interest.”

In November 2019 the CEO of the world’s largest uranium miner, Canadian company Cameco, stated, “Not only does it not make sense to invest in future primary supply, even the lowest-cost producers are deciding to preserve long-term value by leaving uranium in the ground.”

The global market is over supplied as existing producers exit or defer projects and higher-grade uranium ore deposits remain in the ground across Australia and around the world.

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

August 20, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mining to become legal in NSW, as govt supports OneNation in nuclear push.

Uranium Mining. NSW govt to support One Nation in Nuclear Push.   Daily Telegraph, 19 Aug 20, 

Uranium mining looks set to become legal in NSW after a deal was struck between Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro to get it through cabinet. … (subscribers only)   NSW to start mining uranium after agreement on plan to lift ban [$] 


August 20, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

‘under cover of coronavirus’ New South Wales govt approves US company to mine coal beneath a Sydney drinking water dam

May 11, 2020 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action taking legal action against NSW Environment Protection Authority

April 20, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Outlandish claims made by Byron Shire Councillors, (Greens!!) promoting mobile Small Nuclear Reactors

What a strange article!   The claims made about these “mobile small nuclear reactors” are completely fanciful. These reactors do not exist, are just in the planning stage for use by U.S. military.  Even more fanciful , the article’s claim – “the pilot scheme, which will attract multi-million dollar grants.”.   Just where are these grants to come from?   The cash-strapped Australian government?  The Russians? The Americans? The Chinese?  This entire magical unicorn the Small Nuclear Reactor business is quite unable to attract investors. It’s only hope is to be funded by the tax-payer.  I note these unnamed Green proponents talk about “spreading the risk fairly among the population” – and still think it’s just fine.  So they understand that there’s a risk of dangerous radiation – a very strange attitude for a supposedly environmental group. 

What could go wrong?    April 1, 2020 | by Echonetdaily, Mobile 100MW nuclear power plants have been proposed by the NSW National Party.

The latest miniaturisation technology that has seen electronic circuitry reduced from physical nodes to nanoscale impulses in quantum space has had astounding impacts on the relatively macroscale equipment needed to generate nuclear power. Such equipment has become so small it is now possible to build bus-sized nuclear reactors that can be deployed, as needed, to address gaps in the power grid.

Byron’s Greens councillors have indicated support for the proposal, and hope to involve the Shire in the early stages of the pilot scheme, which will attract multi-million dollar grants. A spokesperson for the local Greens said nuclear plants are not only less polluting than coal fired power stations, but being mobile means they spread the risk fairly among the population.

State and federal Greens later issued a statement disassociating themselves, ‘as always’, from Byron Shire councillors.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, technology | Leave a comment

A nuclear power station is inappropriate for the Central Coast


March 23, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

After backlash from colleagues, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro backs down from nuclear power support

Barilaro retreats on Nationals support for One Nation nuclear bill,, By Lisa Visentin,March 17, 2020 Deputy Premier John Barilaro has walked back his party’s support for a One Nation bill to allow nuclear power in NSW, as the issue threatened to split the Coalition.Mr Barilaro, a long-time advocate of nuclear energy, alarmed some Coalition MPs when he declared two weeks ago that the National Party would support Mark Latham’s bill to overturn a ban on uranium mining.

But the Nationals’ leader changed his tune on Tuesday, telling a budget estimates hearing the matter would first need to be considered by the party room as well as the cabinet.

Mr Barilaro made the unilateral call to back Mr Latham’s bill during an interview on Sky News on March 3 before consulting his party room, triggering concern among some National MPs and angering some of his Liberal cabinet colleagues. 

“I’ve since then had to pull that back to the point where I’ll have to go through the National party room, the parliamentary team, before we get to that position,” Mr Barilaro told the hearing.

“What I’m committing to is advocating for a policy that the party stands for and let’s see what happens when we get to the floor of Parliament.”

However, Mr Barilaro reiterated his strong personal support for nuclear energy, in particular “small nuclear reactors”, which he dubbed “the iphone of reactors”.

In a terse exchange, Labor MLC Adam Searle asked Mr Barilaro whether he was aware small nuclear reactors “don’t exist anywhere in the world at the moment”.

Mr Barilaro responded that he was “advocating for a technology that we know is on the horizon,” saying the Russians “would probably have small modular reactors on the market in the next two to three years.”

When quizzed about whether he’d discussed with his Coalition colleagues where in NSW the reactors could be located, Mr Barilaro floated the option of his own electorate of Monaro, on the state’s southern border.

“I haven’t even ruled it out of my own electorate. There you go. There’s your press release for today. Can’t wait to see it,” he said.

Mr Barilaro has previously grounded his support for Mr Latham’s bill as being consistent with the National Party’s policy position to “support nuclear energy in Australia as part of the energy mix for the future”, adopted at last year’s state conference.

He confronted an immediate backlash from within the cabinet, which had yet to consider the issue, with at least four senior ministers saying they would not support his push to back the bill. One minister told the Herald they were prepared to quit cabinet rather than support it.

The split followed a parliamentary inquiry into Mr Latham’s bill, chaired by Liberal MLC Taylor Martin, which concluded the government should support it.

The inquiry’s report stated: “the committee could find no compelling justifications from an environmental or human safety point of view which would warrant the blanket exclusion of nuclear energy.”

The two Labor MPs on the inquiry – John Graham and Mick Veitch – opposed the findings in a dissenting statement which reaffirmed Labor’s “longstanding and unequivocal platform position in relation to nuclear exploration, extraction and export.”

Mr Latham was also on the inquiry, which was comprised of eight MLCS, including three Liberals, two Labor, and one member apiece from the Nationals and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales National MPs embrace nuclear industry, other MPs are shocked

Is it time to go nuclear?, 13 Mar 20 The announcement by National Party leader John Barilaro last week that his party would support the development of nuclear power in NSW came as a surprise to many considering the long lead times for nuclear power development and the abundance of solar and wind power that is ready to be quickly developed.

One Nation’s Mark Latham brought the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 to parliamentary debate on June 6, 2019 and it’s now working its way towards a vote.

However, local Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has urged North Coast residents to help her kill off the Nationals’ plans to build nuclear power plants in places like Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour with the same determination shown to defeat Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining.

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith points out that ‘While Europe is rapidly phasing out nuclear energy the dinosaurs in the National Party in NSW want to lift the ban and distract us all in an anti-nuclear debate’.

‘The coal barons and their favourite political party are counting on us to repeat the same mistake we made with climate change. We battled to convince the dinosaurs of climate science that was well and truly settled and we lost the war on vested interests in fossil fuel for over a decade.’

Ms Saffin said Mr Barilaro had announced his nuclear policy support on the run on Sky News, blindsiding Premier Berejeklian, who during Question Time on Wednesday (March 4) could not state her government’s true position on nuclear power.

Ms Saffin accused Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro of dangerous behaviour in supporting One Nation Leader Mark Latham’s bill in the Upper House lifting the ban on uranium mining and nuclear energy in New South Wales.

‘By joining forces with Mark Latham, and his former visit overseas to gather information and support for his nuclear cause, John Barilaro has well and truly opened the door to nuclear power plants in coastal communities on the North Coast.

‘The Nats are embracing nuclear power – they keep marching us backwards and have no plans for water protection, no plans for cheap energy that they bang on about, and no plans for country New South Wales,’ she said.

Local National MP responds

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest has responded to questions from Echonetdaily stating that, ‘I have previously stated I am against nuclear power in the Tweed and I have heard nothing during this most recent discussion to change my mind.’ [Ed. note – does he mean that nuclear power is OK everywhere else in Australia?]

Member for Page, Kevin Hogan (Nationals) and National Party MLC, Ben Franklin have not responded to questions regarding their support for nuclear power development.

Federal investigation

Last year the Federal government House of Reps held an inquiry into the pre-requisites for nuclear power in Australia.

‘The release of the report has clearly been done in such a way as to attract the absolute minimum of attention. Its media profile up to now has been zero. That is likely because were it better known, it would have been panned by NGOs Australia-wide,’ said long time anti-nuclear campaigner John Hallam.

‘It’s clear from the recent Federal inquiry, that there is no case whatsoever for a pronuclear about-face in favour of reactors or uranium mining in NSW,’ he said.

‘Ten years ago, the argument would have been that nuclear power was/is uneconomic and potentially dangerous, and that it is uneconomic precisely because it is potentially dangerous. The argument now would be exactly the same, with the added one that in order to be of any relevance to combatting the climate emergency, a source of power must be cheap, problem-free and quickly and easily deployable and nuclear power is the opposite of all those things.

‘Nuclear power, far from solving the climate emergency, diverts needed resources from the real solutions – the deployment of cheap and quickly deployable renewables.

‘Small modular reactors look wonderful on paper but no one has actually succeeded in building even one that works satisfactorily and can be mass-produced, let alone the hundreds that would be needed.’

Local Greens MP Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily that her party requested to be included on the committee looking into nuclear but were ignored. Committee members include two Liberal party MPs, two Labor MPs, a One Nation MP, a Shooters Fishers and Farmers MP and a Nationals MP.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobbyists have got into the ears of NSW’ National Party

Editorial – Nuclear afterglow Nuclear waste. Hans Lovejoy, editor, 13 Mar 2020

While there will surely be an afterglow of good will towards local National Party MLC Ben Franklin for securing the Shire $25m in road and infrastructure funding, it should be pointed out where his government is taking us when it comes to the energy sector.

Mr Franklin’s leader, John Barilaro, is a complete bozo.

For many informed voters, that’s not news.

Barilaro’s been a long-time supporter of nuclear power, and last week he reportedly supported One Nation’s attempts to create that industry and lift the uranium mining ban, all without consulting his own party. Seriously.

The Echo is still waiting on a reply from Mr Franklin on his attitude to the ‘nuclear option’, and whether Barilaro did not consult his party, as reported by SMH.

When asked if he supported repealing the uranium mining ban and creating a nuclear industry, Nationals Tweed MP Geoff Provest told The Echo, ‘I have previously stated I am against nuclear power in the Tweed, and I have heard nothing during this most recent discussion to change my mind.’

Notice how Provest only said he opposes nuclear in the Tweed? The rest of the state is presumably okay.

One Nation’s Mark Latham brought the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 to parliamentary debate on June 6, 2019 and it’s now working its way towards a vote.

Local Greens MP Tamara Smith told The Echo that her party asked to be on the committee that is looking into this – they were denied. Instead it’s stacked with MPs sympathetic to the industry.

Latham’s parliamentary speech, in support of nuclear, admits it takes a decade to establish, but points to Finland’s nuclear industry as why it should occur here.

It’s a speech that you would expect from One Nation – there’s no economic modelling presented to support the viability of nuclear, for example.

Instead, Latham uses his time trying to paint those opposed to nuclear power in Australia as fearmongers, while disparaging renewable energy.

There’s plenty of info available as to the insanity of nuclear – says it simply: ‘Australia is one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, with enough renewable energy resources to power our country 500 times over. When compared with low risk, clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy and storage technology in Australia, nuclear power makes no sense.

‘Nuclear cannot compete on a cost basis with wind and solar, which are the cheapest forms of new generation’.

Clearly nuclear lobbyists are in the ear of Barilaro the Bozo.

Have they also got into the ear of the local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin? It may not matter – Franklin is obliged to vote for whatever idiotic laws his party supports.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Labor MP Yasmin Catley stands up for New South Wales nuclear ban laws

Nuclear power debate resurrected,  MARCH 13, 2020

Member for Swansea, Yasmin Catley, has vowed to fight moves to repeal legislation banning uranium mining in NSW, which she says is the first step towards nuclear power plants in the State, with three Central Coast sites likely contenders.

An Upper House inquiry into the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 has recommended repealing the original bill in its entirety.

Although this would make it legal to mine for uranium within NSW boundaries for the first time since 1987, the prohibition on nuclear facilities would remain in place as a result of prohibitions enacted in federal legislation.

But Catley said that Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, had made it clear that he supports the building of new nuclear power stations.

“While there is also federal legislation in this space, it is clear that the Deputy Premier sees the removal of the current ban on uranium mining and nuclear power in NSW as the first step towards that objective,” she said.

“Potential nuclear power station sites were identified at Eraring, Vales Point and Munmorah in 2018, but nuclear is not the answer to the problem of climate change.

“Nuclear is too expensive and too dangerous.

“The future lies in large scale renewable energy projects that bring together wind, solar and other renewable technologies to meet our needs.

“Wind power made reliable with storage, and peaking gas support, costs as low as $52MWh while nuclear energy in nations with established industries costs between $169MWh and $270MWh.

“New nuclear facilities will cost between $195 and $344 per MWh.
“This would see NSW households pay potentially six times as much for electricity.

“Already on the Central Coast we have Vales Point rolling out clean technology like solar.

“The government should be supporting the expansion of this sector and the jobs that come with it, rather than turning regional and coastal communities into nuclear power plant wastelands.”

But MLC Taylor Martin, who chaired the inquiry into repealing the prohibition bill, said bans on uranium mining and nuclear energy reflected the “outdated fears of the 1980s”.

“The safety of nuclear technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since the state prohibition commenced,” Martin said.

On the balance of evidence gathered for this inquiry, nuclear power in its emerging small scale applications, is a compelling technology where energy policy settings seek to decarbonise emissions while delivering secure, reliable and affordable energy to the NSW grid.

“Despite the share of wind and solar in the NSW electricity generation mix tripling in the past five years, just over seven per cent of the state’s electricity currently comes from these sources.

“It is clear that wind and solar firmed with gas, batteries and pumped hydro would not be an adequate solution to meet the state’s future needs for affordable and reliable electricity following the decommissioning of our ageing coal fired generation assets.

“There is an imperative for legislators and governments to be genuinely technology neutral and not lock out appropriate, low emission alternatives to replace these ageing assets.”

Martin said there were “no compelling justifications” from an environmental or human safety point of view which would warrant the blanket exclusion of nuclear energy from serious policy consideration in NSW.

“The outdated arguments for prohibiting nuclear on the basis of safety are increasingly difficult to defend,” he said.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Melinda Pavey National Party MP wants Small Nuclear Reactors for the Riverina

Melinda Pavey says public perception of nuclear energy is changing  Ute Schulenberg  13 Mar 20,

Melinda Pavey says she would “love to see regional communities engaged in the discussion of all the opportunities zero emission [?] nuclear energy can offer”.

The Member for Oxley’s comments are in the context of the Upper House Parliamentary Inquiry into the mining of uranium in NSW and nuclear energy, led by Liberal MP Taylor Martin, which has recommended the law prohibiting uranium mining and nuclear facilities should be repealed.

The inquiry was established as a result of a bill put forward by One Nation MP Mark Latham.

While it is only the start of a fresh conversation about nuclear energy, Mrs Pavey said the public perception of zero emission nuclear energy was changing.

“Small modular reactors (SMRs)* are new technology and should be discussed as be part of an energy source and climate change,” Mrs Pavey said.

“SMRs will create new industries, more jobs and a reliable source of baseload power.”

Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro has long-supported nuclear energy and said the Nationals would support a bill, as will the Shooters and Fishers.

The parliamentary inquiry will deliver its findings in September.

The process for nuclear energy is both a State and Federal process and both levels of government would have to overturn the various legislative bans currently in place prior to any changes being made.

* Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear fission reactor which are smaller than conventional reactors, and manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be assembled. They require less on-site construction and supposedly increased containment efficiency. They do not require a coast locations as is the case with traditional nuclear energy sites.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Call to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stand up for a nuclear-free New South Wales

Premier must stand up to Barilaro on nuclear power,  10 Mar, 20,    Deputy Premier John Barilaro has issued another ultimatum to the NSW government, this time over his obsession with starting a nuclear industry, but it is high time Premier Gladys Berejiklian called his bluff. Mr Barilaro is demanding that cabinet endorse a report by an upper house parliamentary committee backed by One Nation which recommends lifting the ban on uranium mining and nuclear power generation that has been in place since 1986. If cabinet refuses, he is threatening that he and perhaps the whole National Party will go their own way and vote in favour of a bill to that effect.

The Herald reported on Monday that some cabinet ministers who oppose nuclear power are threatening to respond by quitting if Ms Berejiklian caves in. The question of whether NSW can or should develop a nuclear industry is complicated. In theory, mining uranium could earn money and nuclear power generation could help reduce emissions. In fact, both face huge practical problems.
Of course, the Northern Territory and South Australia already mine uranium. But there is little reason for NSW to follow them now because, quite apart from concerns over waste storage, safety and proliferation, the business case is very weak. As the upper house report says, the state does not have any proven commercial deposits of uranium and, since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the global market for uranium has been depressed. The conservative government in Western Australia ended its ban on uranium mining in 2010 but no new mines have opened.

Similarly, the prospects are also poor for nuclear power generation here any time soon. Nuclear reactors are very expensive and would take decades to build. By most reckonings, they cannot compete on cost with renewables – backed up by battery storage – or pumped hydro. Private companies will not build them without subsidies from taxpayers.

Given those practical issues, it is hard to understand why Mr Barilaro has joined One Nation’s crusade for nuclear power. Cynics would argue that his main goal is shielding the coal industry by delaying other more immediate and practical forms of action to reduce carbon emissions. And for Mr Barilaro, it might be a political winner. He might steal One Nation’s thunder and win the support of older regional voters and radio shock jocks who have a vendetta against those they see as renewables-loving green hippies.
But Mr Barilaro’s nuclear adventure risks doing damage to the government including a repeat of what happened to the Howard government in 2007 when it campaigned on nuclear power. The ALP pointed out that because plants require enormous amounts of water, they would have to be located on the coast. That went down like a lead balloon with voters and that was before Fukushima.
With a two-seat majority, Ms Berejiklian is more than usually dependent on her Coalition partner. Over the past year, Mr Barilaro has been able to extract some questionable concessions from her on water policy and regional jobs in the energy sector.

But she must not allow policy on such an important issue to be driven by a minority of Nationals MPs and the whims of One Nation backbenchers. As Premier, it should be Ms Berejiklian who sets the priorities of the state’s energy policy.

This is a good chance for Ms Berejiklian to stamp her authority on the government. Mr Barilaro has backed down in the past. He knows how much he and his party need to be in government. His bark is often worse than his bite.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Fact-checking the false nuclear claims of NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s nuclear falsehoods the nuclear falsehoods of NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro. Mr. Barilaro has been repeatedly provided with factual information so there is no excuse for his ignorance., March 2020, Jim Green, FoE Australia national nuclear campaigner,

Mr. Barilaro: Nuclear power is “probably the cheapest cost to the average Australian household”.


* Nationals Senator Matt Canavan acknowledges that nuclear power is “very expensive”.

* Industry insiders and lobbyists freely acknowledge that nuclear power is suffering from an economic crisis that could prove to be terminal.

* Nuclear power is in decline worldwide and a growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea.

* Laws banning nuclear power has saved Australia from the huge costs associated with failed and failing reactor projects in Europe and North America, such as the twin-reactor project in South Carolina that was abandoned in 2017 after the expenditure of at least A$13.4 billion, bankrupting Westinghouse. That expensive fiasco could so easily have been replicated in NSW if not for the prudent legal ban.

* There are many other examples of shocking nuclear costs and cost overruns, including:

‒ The cost of the two reactors under construction in the US state of Georgia has doubled and now stands at A$20.4‒22.6 billion per reactor.

‒ The cost of the only reactor under construction in France has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$20.0 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

‒ The cost of the only reactor under construction in Finland has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$17.7 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

‒ The cost of the four reactors under construction in the United Arab Emirates has increased from A$7.5 billion per reactor to A$10‒12 billion per reactor.

‒ The cost of the only two reactors under construction in the UK has increased to A$25.9 billion per reactor. A decade ago, the estimated cost was just A$4 billion. The UK National Audit Office estimates that taxpayer subsidies for the project will amount to A$58 billion.

Mr. Barilaro: “As I write this piece, a further 50 nuclear reactors are being built globally (450 reactors currently operate in 31 counties) including in Finland, France, the UK, China and Canada.”


* The number of power reactors under construction has fallen steadily from 68 in 2013 to 49 as of Feb. 2020.

* As noted above, reactors under construction in Finland, France and the UK have been subject to catastrophic cost overruns.

* There has only been one reactor construction start in China in the past three years. The number of reactors under construction in China has fallen from 20 in 2017 to 10 now. Renewables generate twice as much electricity in China as nuclear power.

* No reactors are being built in Canada.

Mr. Barilaro on small modular reactors (SMRs): “Given their size and efficiency, their waste is minimal (new advancements in technology continues to address the waste issue)”.


* SMRs would produce more nuclear waste per unit of energy produced compared to large reactors.

* A 2016 European Commission document states: “Due to the loss of economies of scale, the decommissioning and waste management unit costs of SMR will probably be higher than those of a large reactor (some analyses state that between two and three times higher).”

* Mr. Barilaro’s “new advancements” (‘Generation IV’ concepts) have failed spectacularly and have clearly worsened nuclear waste management problems (see p.42-43 of our joint submission to the NSW inquiry).

Mr. Barilaro: “The compact nature of SMRs means they need close to only 5 per cent of the nuclear fuel required for large conventional reactors.”

Fact: As the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission report noted: “SMRs have lower thermal efficiency than large reactors, which generally translates to higher fuel consumption and spent fuel volumes over the life of a reactor.”

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs are “becoming very affordable”.


* Every independent economic assessment finds that electricity from SMRs will be more expensive than that from large reactors.

* SMRs will inevitably suffer from diseconomies of scale: a 250 MW SMR will generate 25% as much power as a 1,000 MW reactor  but it will require more than 25% of the material inputs and staffing, and a number of other costs including waste management and decommissioning will be proportionally higher.

* A December 2019 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded that wind and solar power, including two to six hours of storage, is two to three times cheaper than power from small reactors per unit of energy produced. Nuclear lobbyists dispute the construction costs that underpin this estimate but, in fact, they are a neat fit with real-world construction costs (as opposed to self-serving industry speculation). Indeed the CSIRO/AEMO estimate is lower than the average cost of small-reactor projects in China, Russia and Argentina.

* SMRs in China, Russia and Argentina are, respectively, 2, 4 and 23 times over-budget. None could be described as “very affordable”.

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs “are now on the horizon”.


* A handful of SMRs are under construction (half of them to power fossil fuel mining operations in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere).

* Private sector investment has been pitiful and the main game is to find governments reckless enough to bet billions of taxpayer dollars on high-risk projects. SMRs under construction are all being built by government agencies.

* The prevailing scepticism is evident in a 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on the insights of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. They predict that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

* Likewise, a 2014 report produced by Nuclear Energy Insider, drawing on interviews with more than 50 “leading specialists and decision makers”, noted a “pervasive sense of pessimism” regarding SMRs.

Mr. Barilaro: SMRs are “not as water hungry as traditional nuclear power plants, because they use air or sand to cool the core.”


* SMRs will likely use as much water per unit of energy produced compared to large reactors ‒ possibly more due to lower thermal efficiencies. Nuclear power, large or small, is incredibly thirsty: a typical large reactor consumes 35‒65 million litres of water per day. Gas cooling creates its own set of problems and inefficiencies, leading to higher costs ‒ that is why a very large majority of reactors are water-cooled.

* Sand to cool a reactor core? Perhaps he means sodium ‒ which has caused a number of fires in fast neutron reactors. Sand has only been used as a desperate measure in the event of major accidents, e.g. Chernobyl. Continue reading

March 12, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, spinbuster | Leave a comment