Australian news, and some related international items

climate change – global warming

As well as radioactive wastes, the uranium/nuclear industry releases greenhouse gases, increasing global warming.

At successive steps in the uranium/nuclear cycle, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This is shown above, with black dots as the carbon rising. The industry also uses enormous amounts of fuel – as electricity and in the huge amounts of oil in transporting uranium, nuclear fuel and wastes.

nukeplant-S-webn the large diagram above – there is one aspect missing in the story of the nuclear cycle, and of its carbon emissions.

This aspect is bevoming critical now, with very many reactors, world-wide, reaching the end of their functional life.

How to get rid of them? How to dispose of a huge dead building which has itself become a nuclear waste?

The word “DECOMMISSIONING” – is one of those lovely Wobbly Words – covering up the fact that it really means a huge destruction and engineering job, in which greenhouse gases are released into air, water and land.

Nuclear power plants need plentiful water for cooling so are usually near the sea or on rivers. …….With sea levels likely to rise for at least the next 1,000 years, bolstering the flood defences of the world’s many coastal reactors looks set to become a more costly and time-consuming job — one that could last for centuries……………

Nor are inland river-cooled reactors invulnerable to global warming. Hot weather makes it difficult to keep them cool and operate safely. The hotter it gets, the more frequently they may have to close, just when power demand is highest


Since around 2003 -4 the global nuclear industry has positioned itself as part of the solution to climate change. In what has been an unprecedented attempt to fool governments and the public about its merits, and to minimise its dangers, the nuclear industry has been cavalier with the truth, to say the very least.

It claims that it is greenhouse friendly, and therefore should be a sought-after energy source for the future. The only part of the nuclear industry’s operations which is not a heavy greenhouse gas emitter is the boiling of the water in the reactor. At every other stage in the chain, from uranium mining, to milling, to transport, to enrichment, to construction of reactors, to re-processing, to storage of waste (probably requiring more transport), to making of weapons, to de-commissioning of reactors, greenhouse gases are emitted.

Just take the reactor construction and deconstruction as an example of what is never referred to by the industry’s proponents. The making of cement is widely acknowledged as a huge contributor to CO2 emissions, and there is a massive amount of cement used in both operations ….. especially in de-commissioning of ageing reactors, which will become a common, but likely unacknowledged feature of the industry in the coming decade. So, concrete and steel manufacturing emissions should be included in any assessment of the carbon footprint of this industry.  – Jo  Valentine Proposed BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Uranium Mine Expansion opposed on a series of logical, economic, environmental and ethical points – former Senator Jo Valentine’s letter to the”authorities” « tony serve blogs

Nuclear power and global warming. – Christina Macpherson

  • Real costs of nuclear, are more than for wind power, energy from bio-wastes and some forms of solar energy, and are increasing, while renewables costs (wind, solar) coming down
  • Nuclear power can reduce carbon dioxide emissions only from electricity generation (Australia’s C02 emissions 35% from electricity, 65% transport, industrial, agricultural,land clearing)
  • Most reactors now due for closing down, while few being built. Lead time for new reactors around 15 years or more. To make any effect on greenhouse gas emissions would require 20,000 reactors. Not only not likely to happen, but could not happen in time to be effective against global warming.
  • Nuclear reactor’s electricity generation process in itself low C02 emissions. but the total nuclear fuel cycle  is a high C02 emitter:
uranium mining – milling -transport -uranium conversion – enrichment – transport – nuclear fuel fabrication – building of reactor – reprocessing – building of storage – transport – storage–  building of eventual burial site – process of burial – destruction of reactor at its life end – transport – burial of reactor.
  • High energy use required to initially build and power reactor
  • proponents of nuclear energy stress the expected huge growth in energy consumption, and they neglect to mention the single most effective (and economic) measure –  energy efficiency.
  • proponents of nuclear power stress importance of “baseload” energy. Technologies now exist for solar, and wind farms to provide baseload energy, and manage issues of “intermittent energy” (esp with “smart grids)

All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise
Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.


Besides those in France, many nuclear reactors in Japan, the US, the UK, Belgium and China are located on or near sea coast or rivers.

Cooling needs of nuclear reactors dictate a location at sea or at a large river. A reactor with an output of 1000-MW electric power has to get rid of 2000-MW thermal power. That is why the majority of the world’s 430 or so nuclear reactors are located on sea or river sides. Since 1900 the global sea level has risen by 10 to 15 cm. By 2100 sea levels could rise by another 60 to 110 cm. At the same time many sea coasts, for example in England, are gradually sinking.

Although the French nuclear utility EdF tried to play down the risks during the flooding of Blayais (see also WISE News Communique 523.5123: ‘French reactors flooded by storm, backup safety systems fail’), some media and politicians described the flooding event as a near-core-melt accident.

By 2025, several nuclear sites are predicted to be underwater: Hinkley Point on West Coast, Dungeness and Sizewell on the South East coast, and the BNFL reprocessing plants and other nuclear installations at Sellafield. Military nuclear sites are vulnerable, too. It would be better therefore to decommission nuclear facilities immediately after closure.

In Australia, the Howard  government proposed 25 or more nuclear reactors. As Australia is the driest continent, there would really be no option but to locate Australia’s nuclear reactors along the coast. The East coast was the favoured area.


The role of Australia’s URANIUM INDUSTRY in increasing GLOBAL WARMING

Australia’s effort to address climate change must put a stop to uranium mining.  It is part of this global pretense that nuclear power is a solution.

Uranium mining is in itself a contributor to global warming.  take for example, the plan of BHP Billiton to build, dig, the world’s biggest uranium mine

Mega-everything: the world’s biggest open cut mine Energy use and associated climate change impact OnLine opinion By Sandra Kanck

The use of fossil fuels and associated climate change impact will be immense. While BHP Billiton claims the expansion will account for a not inconsiderable 9.8 per cent of South Australia’s CO2 emissions within just 11 years, the real figures may be closer to 14 per cent.

On-site diesel fuel usage will increase from the current 25 megalitres per annum to reach 454,000 kilolitres after 40 years (the mixed measurements are BHPB’s choice). Over the same time period, diesel for transporting material into and out of the site will increase from 16,000 to 36,500 kilolitres.

The Environmental Impact Statement, (EIS)  suggests potential conversion of haul trucks to run on LNG, resulting in the on-site construction of an LNG conversion facility. With peak oil impacts occurring early on in the expansion, the LNG conversion facility will no doubt need to be fast-tracked. LNG conversion of itself is a process which increase greenhouse gas emissions, yet it does not appear to be included in the climate change calculations.

BHP Billiton will source its electricity needs in the first instance from the current national electricity grid, which will result in the increased use of coal-fired electricity. The closest generators at Port Augusta produce power from relatively inefficient and polluting Leigh Creek coal, with associated greenhouse gas emissions (including the release of methane). At least one of the power-stations is half a century old and should have been decommissioned years ago.

Prodigious amounts of energy will be used in construction. For instance, to allow for the very large equipment that will be moved in, passing bays 30m wide and 250m long will be built between Port Augusta and Olympic Dam at roughly 17km intervals. This and other off-site construction will increase the use of fossil fuels and further blow out South Australia’s climate change targets, yet does not appear to be taken into account in the EIS.

Mega-everything: the world’s biggest open cut mine – On Line Opinion – 24/8/2009

Nuclear power – a greenhouse polluter and a non-solution

Claims that nuclear power is “greenhouse free” are nonsense. Substantial greenhouse gas generation occurs across the nuclear fuel cycle…….

The world’s 440 operating power reactors, with about 364,000 MWe of total capacity, produce about 16% of the world’s electricity. Coal, gas and oil account for four times that amount — about 64%. So to replace fossil fuel generated electricity with nuclear power would require a five-fold increase in the number of reactors, from 440 to about 2200. The cost of the additional 1760 reactors would be several trillion dollars.

In Australia, building nuclear reactors would not only be irresponsible and impractical as a means of addressing climate change, it would also be illegal because the Howard government outlawed the construction of nuclear power reactors in the 1998 Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act. Interestingly, the government made nuclear power illegal with little or no prompting from environmental and anti-nuclear groups. Global warming: Nuclear power no solution | Green Left Weekly

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