Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Report to U.S. Congress on AUKUS agreement, allows Australia access to Highly Enriched Uranium and Plutonium

Report to Congress on AUKUS Nuclear Cooperation, News USNI, March 16, 2022 On December 1, 2021, President Joseph Biden submitted to Congress an “Agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information.” This In Focus explains the agreement’s substance, as well as provisions of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954, as amended (P.L. 83-703; 42 U.S.C. §§2153 et seq.), concerning the content and congressional review of such agreements.

An accompanying message to Congress explains that the agreement would permit the three governments to “communicate and exchange Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information and would provide authorization to share certain Restricted Data as may be needed during trilateral discussions” concerning a project to develop Australian nuclear-powered submarines. This project is part of an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” named AUKUS, which the three governments announced on September 15, 2021. The United States has a similar nuclear naval propulsion arrangement only with the United Kingdom pursuant to the bilateral 1958 Mutual Defense Agreement.

The partnership’s first initiative, according to a September 15 Joint Statement, is an 18-month study “to seek an optimal pathway to deliver” this submarine capability to Australia. This study is to include “building on” the U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarine programs “to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.” The study is “in the early stages,” according to a November 2021 non-paper from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which adds that “[m]any of the program specifics have yet to be determined.”

Agreement Details 

The agreement, which the governments signed on November 22, 2021, permits each party to exchange “naval nuclear propulsion information as is determined to be necessary to research, develop, design, manufacture, operate, regulate, and dispose of military reactors.”

As noted, this information includes restricted data; the AEA defines such data to include “all data concerning … the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy.” The AEA and 10 C.F.R. Part 810.3 define special nuclear material as plutonium, uranium-233, or enriched uranium.

The agreement, which entered into force on February 8, 2022, is to remain in force until December 31, 2023, when it will “automatically extend for four additional periods of six months each.” Any party may terminate its participation in the agreement with six months written notice. Should any party abrogate or materially violate the agreement, the other parties may “require the return or destruction” of any transferred data.

The agreement includes provisions to protect transferred data. For example, no party may communicate any information governed by the agreement to any “unauthorized persons or beyond” the party’s “jurisdiction or control.” In addition, a recipient party communicating such information to nationals of a third AUKUS government must obtain permission from the originating party. The agreement includes an appendix detailing “security arrangements” to protect transferred information.  Download the document here.    https://news.usni.org/2022/03/16/report-to-congress-on-aukus-nuclear-cooperation

March 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What future for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) in Australia ?

Small nuclear reactor? It’s a lemon!

Large taxpayer subsidies might get some projects, such as the NuScale project in the US or the Rolls-Royce mid-sized reactor project in the UK, to the construction stage. Or they may join the growing list of abandoned SMR projects

In 2022, nuclear power’s future looks grimmer than ever, Jim Green, 11 Jan 2022, RenewEconomy

”……………………………………….. Small modular reactors

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are heavily promoted but construction projects are few and far between and have exhibited disastrous cost overruns and multi-year delays.

It should be noted that none of the projects discussed below meet the ‘modular’ definition of serial factory production of reactor components, which could potentially drive down costs. Using that definition, no SMRs have ever been built and no country, company or utility is building the infrastructure for SMR construction.

In 2004, when the CAREM SMR in Argentina was in the planning stage, Argentina’s Bariloche Atomic Center estimated an overnight cost of A$1.4 billion / GW for an integrated 300 megawatt (MW) plant, while acknowledging that to achieve such a cost would be a “very difficult task”. Now, the cost estimate is more than 20 times greater at A$32.6 billion / GW. A little over A$1 billion for a reactor with a capacity of just 32 MW. The project is seven years behind schedule and costs will likely increase further.

Russia’s 70 MW floating nuclear power plant is said to be the only operating SMR anywhere in the world (although it doesn’t fit the ‘modular’ definition of serial factory production). The construction cost increased six-fold from 6 billion rubles to 37 billion rubles (A$688 million), equivalent to A$9.8 billion / GW. The construction project was nine years behind schedule.

According to the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, electricity produced by the Russian floating plant costs an estimated A$279 / MWh, with the high cost due to large staffing requirements, high fuel costs, and resources required to maintain the barge and coastal infrastructure. The cost of electricity produced by the Russian plant exceeds costs from large reactors (A$182-284) even though SMRs are being promoted as the solution to the exorbitant costs of large nuclear plants.

SMRs are being promoted as important potential contributors to climate change abatement but the primary purpose of the Russian plant is to power fossil fuel mining operations in the Arctic.

A 2016 report said that the estimated construction cost of China’s demonstration 210 MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) is about A$7.0 billion / GW and that cost increases have arisen from higher material and component costs, increases in labour costs, and project delays. The World Nuclear Association states that the cost is A$8.4 billion / GW. Those figures are 2-3 times higher than the A$2.8 billion / GW estimate in a 2009 paper by Tsinghua University researchers.

China’s HTGR was partially grid-connected in late-2021 and full connection will take place in early 2022.

China reportedly plans to upscale the HTGR design to 655 MW (three reactor modules feeding one turbine). China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology at Tsinghua University expects the cost of a 655 MW HTGR will be 15-20 percent higher than the cost of a conventional 600 MW pressurised water reactor.

NucNet reported in 2020 that China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp dropped plans to manufacture 20 additional HTGR units after levelised cost of electricity estimates rose to levels higher than a conventional pressurised water reactor such as China’s indigenous Hualong One. Likewise, the World Nuclear Association states that plans for 18 additional HTGRs at the same site as the demonstration plant have been “dropped”.

The World Nuclear Association lists just two other SMR construction projects other than those listed above. In July 2021, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) New Energy Corporation began construction of the 125 MW pressurised water reactor ACP100. According to CNNC, construction costs per kilowatt will be twice the cost of large reactors, and the levelised cost of electricity will be 50 percent higher than large reactors.

In June 2021, construction of the 300 MW demonstration lead-cooled BREST fast reactor began in Russia. In 2012, the estimated cost for the reactor and associated facilities was A$780 million, but the cost estimate has more than doubled and now stands at A$1.9 billion.

SMR hype

Much more could be said about the proliferation of SMRs in the ‘planning’ stage, and the accompanying hype. For example a recent review asserts that more than 30 demonstrations of ‘advanced’ reactor designs are in progress across the globe. In fact, few have progressed beyond the planning stage, and few will. Private-sector funding has been scant and taxpayer funding has generally been well short of that required for SMR construction projects to proceed.

Large taxpayer subsidies might get some projects, such as the NuScale project in the US or the Rolls-Royce mid-sized reactor project in the UK, to the construction stage. Or they may join the growing list of abandoned SMR projects.

failed history of small reactor projects. A handful of recent construction projects, most subject to major cost overruns and multi-year delays. And the possibility of a small number of SMR construction projects over the next decade. Clearly the hype surrounding SMRs lacks justification.

Everything that is promising about SMRs belongs in the never-never; everything in the real-world is expensive and over-budget, slow and behind schedule. Moreover, there are disturbing, multifaceted connections between SMR projects and nuclear weapons proliferation, and between SMRs and fossil fuel mining.

SMRs for Australia

There is ongoing promotion of SMRs in Australia but a study by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, commissioned by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated costs of A$225 / MWh for SMRs. The Minerals Council of Australia states that SMRs won’t find a market unless they can produce power at about one-third of that cost.

In its 2021 GenCost report, CSIRO provides these 2030 cost estimates:

* Nuclear (SMR): A$128-322 / MWh

* 90 percent wind and solar PV with integration costs (transmission, storage and synchronous condensers): A$55-80 / MWh

Enthusiasts hope that nuclear power’s cost competitiveness will improve, but in all likelihood it will continue to worsen. Alone among energy sources, nuclear power becomes more expensive over time, or in other words it has a negative learning curve.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and the author of a recent report on nuclear power’s economic crisis. https://reneweconomy.com.au/in-2022-nuclear-powers-future-is-grimmer-than-ever/

January 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

The murky world of financing Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)


IKEA it ain’t: don’t go looking for friendly nuclear option, no matter the spin

MICHAEL WEST MEDIA, By Noel Wauchope|December 30, 2021  Despite the Murdoch media hype over small nuclear reactors as a solution for Australia’s “clean energy” future, this is costly technology which barely exists in a commercial sense. Noel Wauchope explores the murky world of funding for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs).

Small nuclear reactors are being proposed as the solution for Australia’s ‘clean energy’ future.  Australians should be aware of the financial  gymnastics going on in the USA, with NuScale, and in the UK, with Rolls-Royce. That’s just to single out the two most advanced of the many dubious SMR projects still at the starting gate.

The Murdoch media is enthusiastic about SMRs. Missing from the hype are a lot of unanswered questions. For a start — the ”M” stands for ”modular” — meaning that these reactors will be built in pieces, sort of, and transferred to a site, where they will be assembled, like a piece of IKEA furniture. But in fact there are at least 50 designs being promoted, and not all are modular. 

The critical question comes down to – the money

The enthusiasm of the SMR lobby for the economic viability of SMRs is not matched by the facts.

 For one thing to consider – there’s the price of the electricity to be eventually delivered by these small nuclear reactors. The Minerals Council of Australia estimates that by 2030 and beyond, SMRs could offer power to grids from $64-$77MWh, depending on size and type.

An analysis by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, prepared for the 2015-16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission,  estimated  a cost of A$225 / MWh for a reactor based on the NuScale design, about three times higher than the MCA’s target range. CSIRO  estimatesSMR power costs at A$258-338 / MWh in 2020 and A$129-336 / MWh in 2030.

Then there are the costs of actually getting SMRs in the first place.

In Russia, China, France, and Argentina, the construction is done entirely or largely at taxpayers’ expense, and there is little or no transparency about the costs. But generally in the Western world, electricity production is supposed to be a commercially viable operation.  In the context of promoting low -carbon technologies, SMRs are promoted as being cheaper than large ones.  It is generally acceptable for the government to kick-start the process, with some funding, but with the understanding that the industry will become successful, profitable. 

NuScale financing contortions………………….

Now NuScale is to go public by merging with what’s known as a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC……..

US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler wants to tighten regulations on SPACs:

Glitzy corporate presentation decks, hyped press releases and celebrity endorsements can balloon a SPAC’s equity well beyond a reasonable value long before proper disclosures are filed,  Gensler said.

SPACs have had a chequered history — they enable the sponsors to avoid financial loss, even if the business fails, as many did, in the 1990s.  Sixty-five per cent of deals completed in 2021 at a valuation above $1bn are trading below $10 — the price at which they were floated. All of the companies are trading below their stock market highs with some of them down by as much as 70%. Senator Elizabeth Warren and three other Democrats are investigating the imbalance between the financial results for the sponsors and banks versus the early investors.

Rolls-Royce still looking for money

The process of getting funding for the UK’s SMRs is equally tortuous. ……………….   

Rolls-Royce will be seeking more investment for the project to help fund the building of actual SMRs.

The government is currently passing legislation that will allow investors to back projects like SMRs using a regulated asset base (RAB) model, which allows them to recoup upfront costs from the consumers, over the construction period, long before those consumers actually get any electricity from the project. 

Mythical beasts

So — what it all boils down to is an agreement to spend about £400 million over the next three years — to perhaps produce a design for a reactor, which might get approved by the regulators, and might find investors who might be willing to pay what will be at least £2 billion to build each one.

Where does all this leave Australia? Confused, probably like everyone else?  It’s not at all clear who is going to end up paying the most for small nuclear reactors, or indeed, if that fleet of SMRs will ever become a reality. It will probably be the taxpayers.  I haven’t mentioned all those ancillary costs — of winning community approval, of security, waste disposal. In all the hype about solving the climate crisis, it’s not likely that Australia will have the necessary thousands of small nuclear reactors operating in time to have any effect on the climate. 

In the meantime, it’s worth being wary about the financial aspects, given the obscure manipulations going on in the US and UK, and remembering that not yet does one of these mythical beasts, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors actually exist.

Renewables remain the cheapest “new-build” source of energy generation. They exist. They work.  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/ikea-it-aint-small-modular-nuclear-reactors/ 

December 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

UK Astute class nuclear submarine visits Perth


British nuclear-powered sub visits Perth

1 November 2021 

A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine has conducted a port visit to Perth, one of the first since the announcement of AUKUS in September.

The Astute class submarine went alongside HMAS Stirling in Rockingham, WA on Friday.

The submarine has been part of the UK Carrier Strike Group deployment to the Indo-Pacific which had recently exercised with a range of RAN units alongside numerous engagements with regional partners……………. https://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/british-nuclear-powered-sub-visits-perth

November 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

Australia looking at existing design to ‘accelerate’ delivery of nuclear-powered submarines


Australia looking at existing design to ‘accelerate’ delivery of nuclear-powered submarines, SMH, 
By Anthony Galloway 27 Oct 21,

 Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines would preferably be based on an existing design, Defence officials have revealed, as part of a plan to get the boats in the water before 2040 to avoid a massive gap in the nation’s maritime defences.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last month it was dumping a $90 billion agreement with France to build conventionally powered submarines and would instead develop a nuclear-powered fleet with Britain and the United States under a new defence pact called AUKUS.

If it goes with an existing design, Australia would have to choose between the US’s Virginia-class submarines and Britain’s Astute-class boats. It is widely believed that Australia is more likely to develop a version of the Astute submarine because the British submarine is smaller and less expensive………….

Defence officials also revealed on Wednesday that a plan to build a new naval ship for the Pacific had been quietly dumped in favour of purchasing the vessel on the open market.

The Morrison government announced in 2018 that it would build a large, new naval ship that will cruise the South Pacific and help Australia’s neighbours deal with natural disasters.

But it was confirmed during the Senate estimates hearing that the government would instead purchase the ship to get into the water next year……….https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/accelerate-australia-looking-at-existing-design-to-build-nuclear-powered-submarines-20211027-p593ji.html

October 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison’s ‘net zero plan’ includes small nuclear reactors

Australia’s net zero plan includes ‘small, modular nuclear reactors’  Paul Osborne, 27 Oct 21, Australia will closely watch the development of small modular nuclear reactors as the government seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.  The Morrison government’s emissions plan released on Tuesday said “all technologies” were on the table.

…….. The plan noted that Australia was working with the UK on low emissions technology, including research into small modular reactors.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Perth radio 6PR on Tuesday he did not intend to lift the current ban on nuclear power in Australia…….https://inqld.com.au/news/2021/10/27/australias-net-zero-plan-includes-small-modular-nuclear-reactors/

Australia will closely watch the development of small modular nuclear reactors as the government seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.  The Morrison government’s emissions plan released on Tuesday said “all technologies” were on the table.

October 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, technology | Leave a comment

The facts contradict the pro nuclear spin of the Minerals Council of Australia’s report, written by Ben Heard.

“a smaller reactor, at least the water-cooled reactors that are most likely to be built earliest, will produce more, not less, nuclear waste per unit of electricity they generate because of lower efficiencies.”

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).”

Small nuclear reactors, huge costs   Dr. Jim Green 11 October 2021  Even by the standards of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), the new report published by the country’s most influential coal lobby on the subject of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) is jiggery-pokery of the highest order.

Why would a mining industry body promote SMRs? After mining for some years — or at most decades — no company would want to take on the responsibility of decommissioning a nuclear reactor and managing high-level nuclear waste for millennia. No companies are cited in the report expressing interest in SMRs to power their mining operations.

Perhaps the MCA – which infamously provided the lump of coal for Scott Morrison to wave around in parliament – thinks that promoting nuclear power will slow the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and believes that it is in the interests of some of its member companies to slow the transition.

If so, the timing of the report isn’t great, coming in the same week as the Business Council of Australia’s report which argues for a rapid, renewables-led decarbonisation, and Fortescue’s announcement that it plans to build the world’s largest green energy hydrogen manufacturing facility in Queensland.

Perhaps the MCA is doing the bidding of the (mostly foreign-owned) uranium mining companies operating in Australia? The MCA’s CEO Tania Constable said: “Australia should take advantage of growing international interest in nuclear energy and look to expand its already significant uranium sector.”

Perhaps … but there’s no evidence that the two companies mining uranium in Australia — BHP (Olympic Dam) and Heathgate Resources (Beverley Four Mile) — are lobbying for nuclear power. And Australia’s “already significant” uranium industry could hardly be more insignificant — it accounts for about 0.2 percent of Australia’s export revenue and about 0.01 percent of all jobs in Australia.

Bob Carr’s atomic bombshell

The MCA report also came in the same week as Bob Carr’s striking about-face on nuclear power. Having previously supported nuclear power, Carr wrote in The Australian: “In 2010 one enthusiast predicted within 10 years fourth-generation reactors and small modular reactors would be commonplace, including in Australia. None exists, here or abroad.”

The MCA report says SMRs are an “ideal fit” for Australia, citing their enhanced safety, lower cost than large-scale nuclear reactors or equivalent energy production methods, and lower waste production than current reactors.

It’s all nonsense. The safety claims don’t stack up. Nor do the claims about waste. Academic M.V. Ramana notes that “a smaller reactor, at least the water-cooled reactors that are most likely to be built earliest, will produce more, not less, nuclear waste per unit of electricity they generate because of lower efficiencies.”

And 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).”

SMRs have a similar capacity to many existing coal and gas-fired power plants in Australia, the MCA report states, so would make an ideal replacement. Back to Bob Carr:

“Where is the shire council putting up its hand to host a nuclear power plant? Harder to find than a sponsor for a high-temperature toxic waste incinerator.

“Nobody in the Hunter Valley has urged nuclear for the Liddell site, even on the footprint of this coal-fired power plant scheduled to close. And not even invoking the prospect of a small modular reactor that 10 years back was the vanguard of the nuclear renaissance. About to be planted across the Indonesian archipelago and the rest of Asia, we were promised.  Today they exist only on the Rolls-Royce drawing boards they have adorned since the 1970s.”

Economics

The MCA said in June 2020 that SMRs won’t find a market unless they can produce power at a cost of A$60-$80 per megawatt hour (MWh). That’s a big problem for enthusiasts because there’s no chance whatsoever that SMRs will produce power in that cost range.

An analysis by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, prepared for the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated a cost of A$225 / MWh for a reactor based on the NuScale design, about three times higher than the MCA’s target range.

CSIRO estimates SMR power costs at A$258-338 / MWh in 2020 and A$129-336 / MWh in 2030.

Russia’s floating nuclear plant is said to be the only operational SMR in the world, although it doesn’t fit the ‘modular’ definition of serial factory production.

A 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the Russian floating plant is expected to cost about US$200 (A$273) / MWh, about four times higher than the target range cited by the MCA and more expensive than power from large reactors (US$129-198 / MWh).

Completion of Russia’s floating plant was nine years behind schedule and construction costs increased six-fold.

Yet, despite a mountain of evidence that SMRs won’t come close to producing power in the A$60-80 / MWh range, the new MCA report asserts that “robust estimates” using “conservative assumptions” suggest that SMRs will produce power at a cost of A$64-77 MWh by 2030.

One wonders who the MCA think they’re kidding.

The MCA report was written by Ben Heard, who recently closed his ‘Bright New World’ nuclear lobby website, just before taking up a full time role with consultancy Frazer-Nash. Heard promotes Canadian SMR-wannabe Terrestrial Energy in the MCA report but does not disclose his role on the company’s advisory board.

Heard also contributed two chapters on nuclear power to a 2020 book titled ‘An Australian nuclear industry: Starting with submarines’.

Dr Jim Green is lead author of a 2019 Nuclear Monitor report on SMRs and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

The massive subsidy to nuclear submarines must not be used to justify subsidy to nuclear power

the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

Yes, Australia is buying a fleet of nuclear submarines. But nuclear-powered electricity must not come next  https://theconversation.com/yes-australia-is-buying-a-fleet-of-nuclear-submarines-but-nuclear-powered-electricity-must-not-come-next-168110
Ian Lowe
, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith UniversitySeptember 20, 2021   The federal government on Thursday announced a landmark defence pact with the United States and United Kingdom that involves this nation acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. The question of nuclear submarines in Australia has been bubbling along for some time – and with it, whether we should also develop a nuclear energy sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted the defence deal did not mean Australia would look to develop a civil nuclear capability.

But there is strong support within Coalition ranks for a homegrown nuclear power industry. And the Minerals Council of Australia on Thursday quickly pointed out the “opportunity” the submarine announcement created for expanding nuclear technology in Australia.

The submarine announcement is sure to trigger a new round of debate on whether nuclear energy is right for Australia. But let’s be clear: the technology makes no sense for Australia, economically or politically, and would not be a timely response to climate change.

A twin discussion

The topics of nuclear submarines and nuclear energy are often discussed in tandem.

The technology is similar: the energy source for a nuclear submarine is basically a miniature version of that for a power station. And a similar supply chain is needed for mining and processing uranium, fuelling the reactor and managing waste. That also means both technologies require similar skills and regulatory frameworks.

The Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable on Thursday responded to the submarine announcement, pointing out the apparent synergies with nuclear power:

This is an incredible opportunity for Australia’s economy – not only will we develop the skills and infrastructure to support this naval technology, but it connects us to the growing global nuclear power industry and its supply chains.

Now that Australia is acquiring nuclear submarines which use small reactors, there is no reason why Australia should not be considering [small modular reactors] for civilian use.

A former commander of Australia’s submarine force, Denis Mole, in April also questioned why Australia doesn’t have a larger and more diverse nuclear industry.

Mole argued that of the top 20 world economies, all have nuclear power except Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia. And as nations commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 “it’s noteworthy that no major economy intends doing so without nuclear power in the mix”, he said.

And in February this year, Lindsay Hughes, a senior analyst in the Indo-Pacific program of research organisation Future Directions International, also suggested Australia should develop a nuclear power sector to support a nuclear submarine fleet.

Hughes argued a nuclear power sector would provide skills that could be transferred into the military domain, including nuclear-powered submarines, saying:

A nuclear power sector would demand university graduates with skills in engineering, physics and mathematics, the same skills and skill levels that the US Navy requires to operate its nuclear submarines. Australian graduates with similar skills could be employed on Australian nuclear-powered submarines.

Hughes concluded a nuclear power sector “could potentially provide much of the foundational skills required to maintain and operate a nuclear-power submarine fleet”.

 That really is the military tail wagging the electricity industry dog.

Nuclear power is not the logical next step

Even if there’s agreement Australia needs nuclear submarines patrolling the South China Sea, there is no logical jump for a nuclear power sector to support that activity.

In an opinion piece in March this year, former defence minister Christopher Pyne wrote that without nuclear energy, Australia could not support nuclear submarines – but establishing the former would be difficult. He went on:

Australia does not have a nuclear industry. One cannot be created overnight. Even if there was the political will to create one, which there isn’t, what political party is going to waste its political capital on creating a legislative framework for a nuclear industry that can sustain nuclear submarines, that has zero chance of passing any Upper House in any jurisdiction in Australia.

A nuclear industry in Australia would need a solution for the safe storage and disposal of high-level radioactive waste – this appears unlikely, given the public opposition to establishing a site to dispose of even low-level nuclear waste in Australia.

And research suggests there would be little community support for nuclear power – especially following the Fukushima disaster – let alone a community willing to host a reactor.

The decision to build nuclear submarines raises a new set of issues about uranium processing, fuel fabrication and waste management. The Morrison government needs to tell the community how these will be managed.

What’s more, while nuclear power may have once been cheaper than wind or solar, the economics have since changed dramatically.

Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build and the economics of nuclear power are getting steadily worse. By contrast, renewables continue to come down in price.

Over the past 20 years, new nuclear reactors have struggled to establish a business case in any OECD country, with the potential exception of South Korea. The world has obviously made its decision on nuclear: last year 192 gigawtts of renewables came on line, compared with a net 3 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The future is renewables

Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper noted the federal government had ruled out nuclear propulsion for submarines. Now the federal government will outlay huge amounts of money establishing the framework for the technology.

However, the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

September 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, technology | Leave a comment

AUKUS, nuclear submarines, Highly Enriched Uranium and weapons proliferation

The AUKUS decision to equip Australia with SSNs not only is a fool’s errand but also could pose a grave threat to regional and international security.

Australia’s acquisition of SSNs under AUKUS could well open a Pandora’s box of proliferation with non-nuclear-weapon states such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea among others also going in for nuclear-powered submarines and keeping nuclear fuel (both low- and highly-enriched uranium) outside the scope of IAEA safeguards. This would weaken the IAEA safeguards (verification) system already facing challenges from new technologies and open up possibilities of diversion of nuclear material for nuclear weapons.

Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will risk opening a Pandora’s box of proliferation,   https://johnmenadue.com/australias-nuclear-powered-submarines-will-risk-opening-a-pandoras-box-of-proliferation/ By Tariq Rauf, 22, 2021 The AUKUS decision to equip Australia with SSNs not only is a fool’s errand but also could pose a grave threat to regional and international security.

After first suffering a seeming “brain snap” to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) some years back, at long last Australia has been promised a fleet of eight SSNs by the Biden administration under the newly minted and awkwardly named AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) alliance against China.

Fresh from an ignominious debacle in Afghanistan that led to that bedevilled country once again falling under the repression of the murderous Taliban, the Biden administration has capped off its recent Afghan escapade by driving a stake through the global nuclear non-proliferation regime through its ill-advised decision to supply SSNs and related technology to Australia.

The problem

Nuclear-powered submarines of the United States (and the United Kingdom) reportedly are fuelled with highly-enriched uranium (HEU) of 93 per cent to 97 per cent enrichment level that can last for up to 33 years — this is the same enrichment level as for use in nuclear weapons. In contrast, French nuclear-powered submarines run on low-enriched uranium 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent enrichment level and need to be refuelled on average after about 10 years but do not need weapon-grade enriched uranium.

Nuclear ship propulsion technology and reactor design for military vessels as well as the isotopic composition and quantity of their nuclear fuel remains highly classified. When Canada was considering acquiring a fleet of SSNs in 1987, the two potential suppliers were France (Rubis/Améthyste-class) and the United Kingdom (Trafalgar-class).

In the case of the United Kingdom, Canada was informed that US Congressional approval would be required for the UK to construct and supply SSNs (with US design reactors and nuclear fuel) to Canada. The nuclear ship propulsion reactor design and nuclear fuel information would be subject to a high level of classification. With this requirement for secrecy, Canada would not have been able to provide detailed information to the IAEA under its Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/164) thereby creating a loophole or gap in IAEA safeguards coverage in Canada. A certain (likely unspecified) large quantity of HEU for naval nuclear fuel would be taken out of safeguards for use in the SSNs and the spent fuel coming out the boats after 30 years or more also would be subject to secrecy. Thus the IAEA would not be able to measure the quantity or isotopic composition or to verify the HEU in naval use.

The IAEA Additional Protocol, to safeguards agreements, provides for the “broader conclusion” regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activities. As such, to be clear and precise, were Australia to withhold from the IAEA information on and access to its naval nuclear fuel, then the IAEA would be unable to provide a broader conclusion for Australia under its additional protocol INFCIRC/217/Add.1.

Australia and the two other AUKUS states have communicated to the IAEA director general their intention for the Royal Australian Navy to acquire a fleet of SSNs and this means that at some future time Australia would be invoking paragraph 14 of its NPT safeguards agreement to exclude significant quantities of highly-enriched uranium for naval nuclear fuel. Thus, the claim by AUKUS states “that a critical objective of this cooperation will be to maintain “the strength of both the nuclear non-proliferation regime and Australia’s exemplary non-proliferation credentials” and that they will be “engaging with the IAEA throughout the coming months” is at best an oxymoron.

It should be matter of serious concern for the IAEA board of governors that the “IAEA will engage with them [AUKUS] on this matter in line with its statutory mandate, and in accordance with their respective safeguards agreements with the agency” — as this does not make much sense in that the paragraph 14 provisions on keeping HEU naval nuclear fuel out of safeguards apply only to Australia and not to the UK and the US (the latter two being nuclear-weapon states).

The only responsible course for the IAEA board of governors should be to warn Australia regarding the deleterious effects on safeguards should it implement paragraph 14 provisions and keep large quantities of HEU for its fleet of SSNs outside of IAEA safeguards. The IAEA board would be well advised to reject any request placed before it from Australia or from any other NPT non-nuclear-weapon state to implement paragraph 14 provisions. Rather, the board should take the responsible decision to revoke application of paragraph 14 of INFCIRC/153 (Corr.) and in all related safeguards agreements, much like the board rescinded the original provisions of the Small Quantities Protocol in 2005.

Australia’s acquisition of SSNs under AUKUS could well open a Pandora’s box of proliferation with non-nuclear-weapon states such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea among others also going in for nuclear-powered submarines and keeping nuclear fuel (both low- and highly-enriched uranium) outside the scope of IAEA safeguards. This would weaken the IAEA safeguards (verification) system already facing challenges from new technologies and open up possibilities of diversion of nuclear material for nuclear weapons. The AUKUS decision to equip Australia with SSNs not only is a fool’s errand but also could pose a grave threat to regional and international security.

This article was first published by the Toda Peace Institute and is reproduced with permission. Tariq Rauf was formerly head of verification and security policy coordination, office reporting to the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and previously advised Canada’s parliamentary committees on national defence and foreign affairs.

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines and their disadvantages

The US Virginia-class submarines typically use highly enriched uranium (HEU) that does not need replacing during the lifecycle of each submarine. Across the world, the US, Britain, Russia and India are the only countries to use HEU in naval reactors. Other countries like France use high-density, low-enriched uranium that will occasionally require swapping out with a replacement source.

HEU is one of the most dangerous metals on earth and also one of the simplest nuclear materials to work with. These twin traits also make it a security risk over fears rogue states or terrorists might develop a nuclear weapon, or mishaps trigger a serious accident. It is also why it has been targeted under non-proliferation treaties to reduce its use.

What are nuclear-powered submarines, anyway? A guide to Australia’s looming military addition,Guardian, Royce Kurmelovs. @RoyceRk2T, hu 16 Sep 2021  

What are they and what design might Australia get?

It is not clear which submarine the Australian government will obtain, but the US navy’s latest design is the Virginia-class submarine. Manufactured by American aerospace and defence company General Dynamics, this submarine has gone through several iterations but is generally powered by a single nuclear reactor and can travel at more than 25 knots. Its crew includes 15 officers and 117 enlisted personnel, and the subs are used both in anti-submarine warfare and intelligence gathering operations.

The vessel is powered by a 210MW pressurised water nuclear reactor, inside of which the enriched uranium fuel is sealed. The reactor does not have to be refuelled over its 30-year lifespan ………….. 

What are the drawbacks of nuclear?

Because nuclear submarines tend to be larger, one downside is they can’t move into shallow waters, making them more easily detectable. During one war game in 2015, a Russian-built, Kilo-class diesel-powered submarine used by the Indian navy “sank” a US nuclear-powered sub – although the US navy has never acknowledged the sinking.

Traditionally Australia’s diesel-powered submarines are thought to have been complementary to US powered nuclear subs used by the US, making the recent announcement a surprise.

Nuclear submarines are also more complicated to maintain and service. Unlike the US and UK, Australia does not have a domestic nuclear power industry, which could provide a highly skilled workforce of engineers and nuclear physicists. Much of the work on the subs will probably have to be done overseas.

It is also not clear what plans are being made to handle the spent uranium. The Australian government has been working to build a controversial nuclear waste storage facility in Kimba in South Australia, but this proposal has so far been limited to low-level and intermediate waste from 100 sites around the country.

Are nuclear subs quieter?

It depends. Diesel-electric subs are quieter while running in electric mode, but must at some point surface or pop up a snorkel to run their diesel engines and recharge the batteries. When the diesel engines are running, these noisier than nuclear-powered subs. Nuclear subs also generate noise from the reactor, including the coolant pipes, turbines and steam generation.

What fuel do they use?

The US Virginia-class submarines typically use highly enriched uranium (HEU) that does not need replacing during the lifecycle of each submarine. Across the world, the US, Britain, Russia and India are the only countries to use HEU in naval reactors. Other countries like France use high-density, low-enriched uranium that will occasionally require swapping out with a replacement source.

HEU is one of the most dangerous metals on earth and also one of the simplest nuclear materials to work with. These twin traits also make it a security risk over fears rogue states or terrorists might develop a nuclear weapon, or mishaps trigger a serious accident. It is also why it has been targeted under non-proliferation treaties to reduce its use.

Will it be able to launch nukes?

If there is one thing the Australian government has been very clear about, it’s that the subs will not be armed with nuclear weapons and that Australia is not seeking to obtain nuclear weapons capability.

That’s not to say the submarine won’t be capable of doing so. Using the Virginia-class as an example, the build comes equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. It is capable of launching 16 Tomahawk cruise missiles in one salvo but can be modified to mount heavier weapons systems. While these missiles could potentially be built to carry a nuclear warhead, as of 2019 the only variations of the Tomahawk missile in operation were non-nuclear.

What happens when things go wrong?

Serving on a naval submarine has not always been a pleasant experience. For example, German U-boat crews in the second world war suffered devastating losses and many were killed not just in combat but from catastrophic mechanical failures, including asphyxiation from diesel exhaust or explosive decompression after flushing a toilet.When it comes to nuclear subs, radiation adds a new dimension, although there have been no known reactor meltdowns in the sinkings that have occurred to date.

The most recent nuclear sub disaster involved the Russian Kursk, which sank after a faulty weld on a torpedo caused an explosion that then detonated other torpedos. All of the 118 crew members died. Many were instantly killed in the initial blasts, although failsafes in the nuclear reactor shut it down without incident. The 23 sailors who survived the blasts spent six hours awaiting a rescue that did not come, and were killed in a desperate attempt to create oxygen. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/16/what-are-nuclear-powered-submarines-anyway-a-guide-to-australias-looming-military-addition

September 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment

Australia’s new nuclear submarines will have dangerous Highly Enriched Uranium, not the Low Enriched Uranium of the French ones.

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.

The new Australia, UK, and US nuclear submarine announcement: a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

By Sébastien Philippe | September 17, 2021 On September 15, US President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched a new major strategic partnership to meet the “imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.” Named AUKUS, the partnership was announced together with a bombshell decision: The United States and UK will transfer naval nuclear-propulsion technology to Australia. Such a decision is a fundamental policy reversal for the United States, which has in the past spared no effort to thwart the transfer of naval reactor technology by other countries, except for its World War II partner, the United Kingdom.  Even France—whose “contract of the century” to sell 12 conventional submarines to Australia was shot down by PM Morrison during the AUKUS announcement—had been repeatedly refused US naval reactor technology during the Cold War. If not reversed one way or another, the AUKUS decision could have major implications for the nonproliferation regime.


In the 1980s, the United States prevented France and the UK from selling nuclear attack submarines to Canada. The main argument centered on the danger of nuclear proliferation associated with the naval nuclear fuel cycle. Indeed, the nonproliferation treaty has a well-known loophole: non-nuclear weapon states can remove fissile materials from international control for use in non-weapon military applications, specifically to fuel nuclear submarine reactors. These reactors require a significant amount of uranium to operate. Moreover, to make them as compact as possible, most countries operate their naval reactors with nuclear-weapon-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel.

With tons of weapons-grade uranium out of international safeguards, what could go wrong?

The United States, UK, and Australia are giving themselves 18 months to hammer out the details of the arrangement. This will include figuring out what type of submarine, reactors, and uranium fuel will be required. Similarly, questions about where to base the submarines, what new infrastructure will be needed, how maintenance will be conducted, how nuclear fuel will be handled, and how crews will be trained—among many others—will need to be answered.

Australia has no civilian nuclear power infrastructure beyond a 20 megawatt-thermal research reactor and faces a rough nuclear learning curve. It will need to strengthen its nuclear safety authority so it has the capability to conduct, review, and validate safety assessments for naval reactors that are complex and difficult to commission. 

How long this new nuclear endeavor will take and how much it will cost are anyone’s guesses. But the cancelled $90 billion (Australian) “contract of the century” with France for conventionally powered attack submarines will most likely feel like a cheap bargain in retrospect. Beyond these technical details, the AUKUS partnership will also have to bend over backwards to fulfill prior international nonproliferation commitments and prevent the new precedent created by the Australian deal from proliferating out of control around the world.

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

So Australia is likely to receive HEU technology, unless an LEU crash program is launched that could take more than a decade to complete or in a dramatic reversal, France is pulled back into a deal—two scenarios that remain unlikely at this point and at any rate do not solve all proliferation concerns. Assuming the high-enrichment route is followed, if Canberra wants to operate six to 12 nuclear submarines for about 30 years, it will need some three to six tons of HEU. It has none on hand and no domestic capacity to enrich uranium. So unless it kickstarts an enrichment program for military purposes, the material would need to come from the United States or the UK.

One can only imagine the drops of sweat trickling down the neck of the International Atomic Energy Agency leadership in Vienna when an Australian delegation comes knocking at its door bringing the good news. The agency, which is currently battling to prevent Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon—25 kilograms (0.025 ton) of HEU according to the internationally agreed standard—will have to figure out how to monitor and account for 100 to 200 times that amount without gaining access to secret naval reactor design information.  Managing that feat while keeping its credibility intact will be difficult to pull off.

What could happen if AUKUS moves forward? France clearly feels “backstabbed” by its Anglo-Saxon allies and angered to the unimaginable point of cancelling a gala celebrating the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of the Capes during America’s war of independence. In response, the French could relax their position on not transferring naval reactor technology to Brazil as part of helping the country build its first nuclear attack submarine. South Korea just successfully launched a ballistic missile from a conventional submarine and recently floated the idea of starting a nuclear submarine program in response to growing nuclear threats from North Korea. Seoul could now ask the United States or other nations for an arrangement similar to Australia’s.


Russia could begin new naval reactor cooperation with China to boost China’s submarine capabilities in response to the AUKUS announcement. India and Pakistan, which already have nuclear weapons, could benefit from international transfers as well, possibly from France and China respectively. Iran, of course, has already expressed interest in enriching uranium to HEU levels to pursue a submarine program.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

Domestic political opposition to the nuclear submarine deal is already brewing in Australia. The Green Party has announced that it will fight the deal “tooth and nail.” Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Morrison is very much struggling in the polls and could lose next year’s election—before the end of the 18-month review process announced by AUKUS. The nuclear submarine project could then be buried before it takes off, saving the international community further headaches.

But if Morrison gets re-elected and the program continues, it will be for the United Stated to take up its responsibilities as the guardian of the nonproliferation regime. Poor nuclear arms control and nonproliferation decisions—such as leaving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and approving the US-Indian nuclear deal—have so far been a trademark of the US Republican Party. It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.


September 18, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, technology, uranium | Leave a comment

Doubts about the nuclear submarines, do they make Australia less safe? Hugh White wonders.

What the submarine deal means for Morrison’s future, The Age, By David Crowe, SEPTEMBER 18, 2021  ”…………… Morrison has made sweeping decisions in the coronavirus pandemic, shutting borders and spending billions, but none is like the move to bolt Australia to the United States and the United Kingdom and build a new fleet of nuclear submarines……………

The toughest decisions are safely postponed until after the federal election due by May next year. Anxious about his prospects in the shipbuilding states of Western Australia and South Australia, Morrison promises more money for defence and more jobs for workers who lose from the cancellation of the French deal.

What he does not promise is that every submarine will be built in Australia. This is because the government’s immediate political objective is at odds with the country’s strategic imperative to replace today’s Collins-class submarines as soon as possible. Only after the election will voters know if the fastest way to deploy the new fleet is to have the first vessels built by the British or Americans.

So there is a tactical move embedded in the strategic shift.

…….. But there are real concerns the Prime Minister could lead the country into greater danger, or at least leave it exposed.

…… This will be a defining argument for the next 18 months. If this call is so fundamental to Australian security, why is Morrison so comfortable with such a long wait for delivery? The alternatives are to buy US submarines that are already in the water as the US deploys newer vessels over time, or place orders for new submarines built overseas.

…… Is this as significant as ANZUS, as Morrison claims? “It is not,” says John McCarthy, a senior adviser to Asialink at the University of Melbourne and a former ambassador to the US, Indonesia, Japan and India. “I simply cannot see that changing the type of submarine, albeit important, makes a hell of a lot of difference. I don’t buy the hype.”

McCarthy does not take issue with the shift to nuclear or the strengthening of the US and UK alliances, but he worries about the breach with France and the message to Asia. After decades of greater engagement in Asia, the government has chosen to tighten the knot with the Anglosphere, yet France is a greater power in the Pacific than Britain. Only months ago, Morrison sought support from French President Emmanuel Macron to counter China………..

“The easy thing is to assume that what’s worked for us in the past is going to work for us in the future,” says Hugh White, professor emeritus at the Australian National University.“The easy thing is not to recognise that Australia has to look after itself in the new order in Asia. It is to assume that we can rely on America and, God save us, the British to look after us and all we have to do is help them. That’s the way we’ve thought about our security for 150 years…….

White believes a bigger fleet of conventional submarines could be more effective and doubts the nuclear fleet can arrive before 2040, but he also questions whether this is significant for China. “If the Chinese go and push ahead anyway, and we end up in a war, I don’t think it is going to make a very big difference as to who is going to win or lose,……………….. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/what-the-submarine-deal-means-for-morrison-s-future-20210917-p58sjo.html

September 18, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, safety, technology | Leave a comment

Morrison says sub deal won’t lead to nuclear power push in Australia. Don’t believe him — RenewEconomy

Morrison says he has no plans for nuclear power plants despite nuclear subs deal. But conservatives and the pro-nuclear lobby won’t stop trying. The post Morrison says sub deal won’t lead to nuclear power push in Australia. Don’t believe him appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison says sub deal won’t lead to nuclear power push in Australia. Don’t believe him — RenewEconomy

Prime minister Scott Morrison insisted on Thursday morning that the landmark nuclear submarine deal struck with US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson won’t translate into a push for nuclear power plants in Australia.

“Let me be clear: Australia is not seeking to establish nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability. And we will continue to meet all of our nuclear non-proliferation obligations,” Morrison said.

On the issue of nuclear power plants, don’t believe him. Morrison could hardly have said anything else. It’s one thing to announce a switch to nuclear powered submarines without any broad social discussion, but quite another to commit the country to nuclear power.

But the pro-nuclear lobby – both within and without the federal Coalition government – won’t be able to help themselves, even if the reality is that the sub construction won’t likely even start for the best part of a decade, such is the complexity of the technology.

The lobby will say it is bizarre that Australia could be the only country in the world planning to sustain a nuclear powered submarine fleet without a civil nuclear industry. And the argument is already being put that if Australia is happy to host nuclear power in a tin can under the sea, then why not in a land-based power plant.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Greens blast nuclear submarine deal.


Floating Chernobyls: : Greens blast sub deal  
https://www.perthnow.com.au/politics/floating-chernobyls-greens-blast-sub-deal-c-3978289, Matt CoughlanAAP, September 16, 2021

The Greens have warned Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines will create “floating Chernobyls” in the heart of major cities.

The UK and US will give Australia access to top secret nuclear propulsion technology for a fleet of new submarines to be built in Adelaide through new security pact AUKUS.

Greens leader Adam Bandt believes the move increases the prospect of nuclear war in the region and puts Australia in the firing line.

“It’s a dangerous decision that will make Australia less safe by putting floating Chernobyls in the heart of our major cities,” he told the ABC on Thursday.

It’s a terrible decision. It’s one of the worst security decisions in decades.”

Mr Bandt said the Greens would fight the decision and urged Labor to do the same.

“The prime minister needs to explain what will happen if there’s an accident with a nuclear reactor now in the heart of one of our major cities?” he said.

“How many people in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, will die as a result of it? What is going to happen if there is a problem with one of the nuclear reactors?”

It is understood the submarines will not require a civilian nuclear capability but rather will have reactors and fuel which will last the life of the vessel.

Independent senator and former submariner Rex Patrick wants an urgent parliamentary inquiry to report before the next federal election.

Senator Patrick, who has been a vocal critic of the $90 billion French submarine deal that is now over, said scrutiny was crucial.

We have to be careful we don’t move from one massive procurement disaster into something else that hasn’t been thought through properly,” he said.

The government has sunk $2.4 billion on the French program and is negotiating on other compensation, which remains commercial in confidence.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and three senior frontbenchers received a briefing ahead of the announcement on Thursday morning.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors – thin end of the nuclear wedge for Australia, as Australian Strategic Policy Institute pushes for submarines


olbloke75  comment on Independent Australia 10 Sept 21

This drive for Australia to embrace Small Nuclear Reactor technology, SMRs, has also been driven by interests within Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) for sometime.

SMRs are the thin end of the wedge for a nuclear industry which promotes zero emission power production but conveniently neglects the huge costs it generates during setup, storage & decommissioning of facilities. The electric car mobs are the same; don’t talk about the dead batteries!

Clearly there are interests who want to see us embrace nuclear power for these new submarines but the absence of any nuclear industry in Australia prevents that. So that started a push for use to embrace SMRs. That’s exactly what powers nuclear submarines & surface ships; SMRs.

I suspect the left field choice of the French Barracuda for our new subs is not isolated from this nuclear push. It is a new design, large French nuclear sub. Its selection over proven Swedish & German conventional designs doesn’t become clear until you think deeper about motive. To adapted the Barracuda’s yet unproven design, to accept conventional battery & diesel power, virtually the entire sub has to be redesigned. Part of the reason design is behind schedule is, I’d suggest, because of the push & an expectation it will become nuclear powered. What’s more, I suspect that was an undocumented, nod-nod, wink-wink agenda of both the current government, defense & French contractor, Naval.

Methinks there is method why this Sub was selected & the increasing push to embrace SMRs. They’re not talking advanced, slow breeding, large scale energy generators using Thorium technology. SMRs are ‘conventional’ dirty nuclear technology.

Beware of the words used by Morrison & his ministers when they talk about “Technology” being the solution to lowering emissions as part of adopting Net Zero Emissions by 2050. SMRs & nuclear technology fit the Morrison & Liberal definition of ‘technology‘. At the moment he says, nuclear energy has long been ruled out, but I wouldn’t count on it, IF, the win the next election. In the meantime, he emulates Basil Fawlty in more ways than one. ‘Don’t mention the war …… https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-nationals-and-murdoch-media-support-nuclear-power-ahead-of-cop26,15496#disqus_thread

September 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | Leave a comment