Monday, 4 April 2011

Price of failure too high for us to use nuclear energy

Adelaide Advertiser
28 March 2011, Page: 16

Safety issues
ALL raw materials are governed by world market pricing that inevitably rise nothing to do with how much we have in the ground. We will inevitably over time pay higher prices for uranium powered electricity. How many studies of nuclear power have conveniently "forgotten" that? When it comes to safety issues, there are many industries dealing with hazardous and toxic substances, but it would appear that none of these would compare to nuclear for ongoing genetic damage to all types of life, and associated suffering. This is the real danger: choose between preserving the life's hereditary gold for all time versus the very short term gain of toxic gold in the current nuclear systems.

What of new developments in the nuclear industry? What about thorium and/or fast-breeder reactors? They are not developed yet. How many billions of dollars would be required to develop these? (On this see R. Eastman's typical nuclear industry costings in yesterday's letters). Why not spend just some billions on commercialising Australian National University's Closed Loop Thermochemical Energy Storage System using ammonia? This could take care of all Australia's baseload requirements.

For example, a pilot plant at Whyalla only received $7.4 million in 2009. This is Australian renewable base load technology that is working now, yet there is this touted dream of spending billions for who knows what legacy? The price of failure is irremediably high for nuclear. Why go long term hazardous and runaway expensive when you don't have to?

C. Hart, Edwardstown.

Uranium not limitless
IT strikes me as rather odd that Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis actually seems to have perversely emboldened proponents of all things nuclear. Disregarding all of the obvious (and serious) risks with safety, waste storage and nuclear weapons proliferation, my simple question to the nuclear cheer squad is how will we generate electricity once the world has run out of uranium (and coal, oil and gas)?

Consider the ever increasing demand for energy from a global population juggernaut that shows no signs of abating, as well as the revelation from nuclear advocate Barry Brook (The Advertiser, 23/3/11) that, "Globally, to service such power demands will need current levels of nuclear power supply to increase 21 fold around the world", it becomes clear that if the pronuclear lobby gets its way, the Earth's finite supply of uranium (and other fossil fuels) will be devoured with increasingly rapacious haste.

No matter what answer may be given to my simple question, the next obvious question is: Wouldn't it be better to do those things now, through enlightened choice, rather than leave them to future generations to sort out as a matter of desperate necessity?

Guy Barnwell, West Croydon.

Forgotten victims
ON the one hand the Government is advising caution in visiting Japan for fear of radiation health issues and on the other it ignores the primary needs of the Australian victims of the UK nuclear tests in South Australia. It appears that the Australian Government is far more interested in protecting the interests of our political and colonial masters (UK Government) than Australian citizens harmed by the UK nuclear tests. In 2009, SA Premier Mike Rann expressed concern that compensation has not been provided to those Australian victims of these tests, and also SA has not been properly cleaned up.

Mr Rann's position is correct, yet there is a lack of resolve by the Australian Government to facilitate any assistance to victims of the nuclear tests on Australian soil beyond some half baked financial contributions of a few million dollars for some questionable support services. This support does not address compensation for the injuries sustained as a result of the UK nuclear tests on Australian soil. If only we had a government that put the interests of Australian citizens ahead of those of our political and colonial masters.

Neil E. Gillespie, Flagstaff Hill.