Nuclear Power Has Never Made Any Social,
Financial, or Environmental Sense
Sydney Morning Herald p13, 26 April 2006
The meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor 20 years ago was
one of the most significant disasters of the 20th century, and
the effects of it are still being felt. To get a sense of the
scale of the disaster, authorities are still trying to prevent
more radiation from leaking and there is still a 30-kilometre
security radius around the site.
As Mikhail Gorbachev declared
this month: "Chernobyl opened my eyes like nothing else. It
showed the horrible consequences of nuclear power, even when
used for non-military purposes."
The International Atomic Energy
Agency concluded that radiation exposure from the Chernobyl
disaster will lead to the deaths of up to 4000 people, and there
have been 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mostly in children. The
agency found that 350,000 people were displaced, with relocation
a 'deeply traumatic experience'.
Chernobyl showed the world that
nuclear power was not safe, but just 20 years later
our Prime Minister is ready to bring nuclear power to Australia.
On April 7 John Howard told Southern Cross Radio: "My philosophy
is that if it became economically attractive, I would not oppose
[nuclear power] any more than I oppose the export of uranium."
The Treasurer, the Defence Minister, the Industry Minister and
the Environment Minister have all said Australia should consider
establishing a nuclear power industry.
The ALP has opposed
nuclear power in Australia for decades. Its platform states that
"Labor will prohibit the establishment in Australia of nuclear
power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle".
Nuclear energy doesn't add up, economically, environmentally or
socially, and after more than 50 years of debate, we still do
not have an answer to nuclear proliferation or nuclear waste.
Nuclear power is the most capital intensive to establish,
decommissioning is extremely expensive and the financial
continues long after the plant is closed. On March 30 Britain
estimated it will cost $170 billion to clean up its 20 nuclear
In the US, direct subsidies to nuclear energy totalled $115
billion between 1947 and 1999, with a further $145 billion in
indirect subsidies. In contrast, subsidies to wind and solar
energy combined during the same period totalled only $5.5
billion. Those costs don't include the
black hole of nuclear waste - because there is no solution.
The Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, said on November 27: "In
terms of high-level waste, if it were ever to be produced from an
Australian nuclear industry, well that will be a matter for the
governments of the day".
What an abrogation of responsibility!
The issue of nuclear proliferation is another critical concern
that cannot be left to a future government.
According to the Oxford Research Group, a nuclear weapons
designer could construct a nuclear weapon from three or four
kilograms of reactor-grade plutonium.
About 250,000 kilograms of civil plutonium has been reprocessed
worldwide - enough to generate 60,000 nuclear weapons. It has
also been suggested that two or three people with appropriate
skills could design and fabricate a crude nuclear
weapon, using a cricket ball-sized sphere of reactor-grade
Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed El Baradei, the
head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned about
the dangers of nuclear proliferation: "Our fears of a deadly
nuclear detonation ... have been reawakened ... driven by new
realities. The rise in terrorism. The discovery of clandestine
nuclear programs. The emergence of a nuclear black market."
This is the reality that must shape
the nuclear debate. Australia should lead the world in the
adoption of clean energy. We should seize the economic benefits
of the push to cleaner energy and renewable energy.
There is a $1 trillion industry emerging globally in
carbon-friendly technologies. During this month's visit by the
Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, a $300 million deal was signed by
the Tasmanian renewable energy company Roaring 40s to provide
three wind farms in China.
China's renewable energy target of 15 per cent by 2020 puts the
Howard Government's 2 per cent target in perspective.
With investments in solar and wind power, clean coal and gas
technology, and with the right price signals in place, Australia
can transform today's energy industry into tomorrow's energy
economy without investing in nuclear power.
Now is the time to reflect on the lessons from the Chernobyl
disaster. We should ask ourselves if we want a clean energy
future or a toxic waste future.
Anthony Albanese is the federal Opposition environment
spokesman. This is an extract from a speech being given today
[26 April 2006] at the University of Sydney.
Nuclear Power: A Toxic Waste Future, No Greenhouse Solution
Each 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant produces about 500 pounds of plutonium
a year and about 30 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste.
In comparison to renewable energy, energy generated from nuclear power
releases 4-5 times more CO2 per unit of energy produced, taking into account
the entire nuclear fuel cycle.
It has been scientifically established that low-level radiation damages
tissues, cells, DNA and other vital molecules.
Nuclear power plants produce extremely toxic radioactive wastes that are
long-lived and have no safe means of disposal. Disposal is neither
scientifically credible nor is there any sustainable options for interim
There have been several failures in breeder reactor programs.
The French and UK breeder reactor programs have also been permanently closed.
Uranium supplies are rapidly diminishing. The combined effects mean that
nuclear power will not be able to supply the long-term needs of the world's
The immense problem of what to do with the world's nuclear waste
is only now beginning to be tackled.
Nuclear Radiation: The Stealthy, silent destroyer of DNA
Atomic Bomb Testing In Australia
According to a special report on an investigation of residual radio-active
contamination, about 100,000 dangerous metal fragments contaminated with
Plutonium still litter the Maralinga atomic test range - 25 years after
the atomic tests which caused them. [The West Australian 26/4/1985]
A Toxic Legacy: British Nuclear Weapons Testing in Australia
Wayward Governance: Illegality and its Control in the Public Sector
The heritable and carcinogenic effects of radiation often do not manifest
themselves for considerable periods. Moreover, both effects may result
from other causes, unrelated to radiation, or may even occur spontaneously.
Thus, any determination of the health consequences of nuclear weapons testing
in Australia would require very detailed records identifying those citizens
who were exposed to radiation, and the degree of radiation to which they
Despite the fact that airborne radiation from the Monte Bello tests was
detected as far away as Townsville and Rockhampton, official fallout
measurements were not compiled, and available data was insufficient to
estimate collective exposure.
The plight of Aborigines in the vicinity of the prohibited zone was in many
respects a reflection of their status in Australia at the time.
Because of their unique lifestyle, and often their lack of clothing, footwear
and permanent shelter, Aboriginal residents in remote parts of Australia
were particularly vulnerable to radiation.
British nuclear tests at Maralinga
Between 1952 and 1963 the British government, with the agreement and support
of Australia, carried out nuclear tests at three sites in Australia: the
Monte Bello Islands off the coast of Western Australian and at Emu Field and
Maralinga in South Australia.
Poisoned Pacific: The legacy of French nuclear testing
..another 44 French bombs, including five hydrogen bombs, were detonated
in the Pacific skies above Moruroa and Fangataufa, another small atoll
40 kilometers further south. The monitoring stations New Zealand operated
on other Polynesian islands regularly registered heavy fallout.
But the French government each time claimed that the patriotic particles
emanating from Moruroa managed to avoid all the islands of French Polynesia.
French nuclear testing: A fool's errand
France, in parallel with the United Kingdom, has never tested any nuclear
explosive devices on its primary or indigenous home soil. All French nuclear
explosions have been conducted on colonial territories, first in Algeria and
then, following Algerian independence in 1962, in the Tuamotu Archipelago
(which includes the uninhabited Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls) in the South
Pacific. France claims that all its tests have been conducted on "French"
territory, whether on the mainland in Europe or elsewhere.
The Effects of French Testing at Moruroa and Fangataufa
French tests, whether in the atmosphere or underground, have left enormous
quantities of wastes at the test site: contaminated earth, waste from
decontamination of equipment, contaminated clothes etc. There is no official
acknowlegement of the storage, transfer or eventual clean-up of these
thousands of tonnes of waste.
French Cover-Up, Mururoa Nuclear
Contamination Reported, 10 Years On
Military incidents with atomic bombs 1950 to 1996
Civian incidents with nuclear power 1980 to 1999
Chernobyl: Understanding SOME of the True Costs of Nuclear Technology
For the past 23 years it has been clear that there is a danger greater than
nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. Emissions from this one
reactor exceeded a hundredfold the radioactive contamination of the bombs
dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No citizen of any country can be assured
that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear
reactor can pollute half the globe. Chernobyl fallout covered the entire
—Introduction, page 1, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, Alexey V. Nesterenko,
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
Volume 1181, December 2009, p335.
US Nuke Plants on Hold
Gillard Government to Dump Nuclear Waste in the Northern Territory
Australian Nuclear Waste Site Flooded, Under Water
Nuclear Waste will be Stored in Sydney
Fukushima Nuclear Emergency in Japan
Fukushima workers told to lie about radiation
Fukushima Shut-Down To Take 30 Years
Fukushima Nuclear-Contaminated Water Dumped in Sea
Fukushima Radiation Circling the Planet
Australian Uranium Mine Linked to US Arms Dealer
Frequent Radioactive Leakes at Beverly Uranium Mine
Australian Beverly Mine Discharges 90 Million Litres of Liquid Radioactive and
Acidic Mine Waste
into South Australian Groundwater Per Year
For Australia, water of any quality is precious, and particularly so when the
only secure supply of water in a region is from groundwater. With the rise
of water treatment technologies such as desalination, water of any quality is
a valuable resource, environmentally as well as for possible community and
industry use. An acid leach-type in situ leaching project, especially as
approved for Beverley and Honeymoon without remediation of polluted
groundwater, therefore imposes a major environmental risk and pollution
burden on future users of groundwater in these regions. In situ leaching
mining is therefore far from sustainable. -- Dr. Gavin Mudd
Spill Disrupts Australian Ranger Mine in Kakadu National Park amid
Last modified: Fri 31 Oct 2014