Don’t give nuclear a social licence

July 26, 2013

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative and Uranium Free NSW released this statement on July 25.


On July 25 and 26, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering held a conference in Sydney titled “Nuclear Energy for Australia?”

The conference might be framed as a question but the answer is predictable given that the majority of keynote speakers were from organisations in favour of developing a nuclear power industry in Australia, including industry representative bodies and pro-nuclear think tanks.

Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator Natalie Wasley said: "The idea of nuclear power in Australia has been tested and rejected many times by the Australian public.

“Former prime minister John Howard was forced to back down from ambitious nuclear power plans when people demanded to know which postcodes would be targeted. The broad community challenge to current plans for a low and intermediate-level radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory would translate to fierce opposition to plans for storage of high-level waste from nuclear power reactors."

Advocates have tried to rebrand nuclear power as a solution to climate change concerns, but actual energy generation trends have not followed this optimistic rebranding.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 discerns that the impact of Fukushima on the global nuclear industry has become increasingly visible, noting: “Global electricity generation from nuclear plants dropped by a historic 7 percent in 2012, adding to the record drop of 4 percent in 2011.”

Wasley said: “Nuclear is costly and contaminating and our energy future is renewable, not radioactive.”

Sakyo Noda from the Uranium Free NSW collective said: "Uranium from Australia was present in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the authority is still unable to control the situation — recently [Fukushima plant owners] TEPCO admitted that contaminated water was leaking into the ocean.

"Uranium mining is the beginning of the catastrophic nuclear chain. We are trying to stop uranium exploration in NSW because we can’t risk another nuclear accident and leave contaminated soil, water and air to the next generations. The radiation health risk and impact on children affected by Fukushima has not yet been fully revealed.”

In August 2012 a broad coalition of trade unions, health and environment groups, the NSW ALP and NSW Greens launched the NSW Uranium Free Charter in response to the overturning of the 26 year moratorium on uranium exploration in the state.

The Charter says: “The nuclear industry promotes nuclear power as a solution to climate change. It is not. We cannot solve one environmental and social problem by embracing another. Investment in renewable energy would create thousands of jobs, especially in regional Australia, without the health risks associated with uranium mining and nuclear energy.”

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