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What does the nuclear lobby want, for South Australia?

By Noel Wauchope - posted Thursday, 19 March 2015

In South Australia, a government appointed panel is considering the Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission into expanding South Australia's nuclear industry. So far, the membership of this panel has not been made public, with the exception of the Head of the Commission, Kevin Scarce, former Governor of South Australia. Mr Scarce has already expressed support for nuclear industry expansion.

In the meantime, there have been numerous articles published, promoting the cause of nuclear expansion. Most of this publicity has appeared in South Australian media. The nuclear promotion in South Australia comes mainly, but not entirely, from South Australians. Nuclear technology marketers in Canada, USA, and UK take a keen interest in Australia . At the end of this article, I will note some of the most recent prominent promoters.

It is difficult to work out exactly what is planned in nuclear industry expansion for South Australia. The plans involve some or all of these industries: uranium enrichment, nuclear power, importation and storage of nuclear wastes, 4th Generation nuclear reactors, and expansion of uranium mining.


However, we can be grateful to ABC Radio's Ockham's Razor programme, as it provided the nuclear lobby with a platform for setting out succinctly their intentions. Oscar Archer, a well -known voice for the nuclear industry, explains.

Archer begins with a simplistic story telling us how much carbon is emitted from our household appliances He moves on to suggest, with an analogy about cars - that we should recycle energy. - a "new, clean, economical form of power".

That alerted me to the expectation that he would be recommending nuclear reprocessing,and sure enough, this followed, immediately afterwards. Australia should get a fleet of PRISM small nuclear reprocessing reactors - Archer's plan is for  "IFS+IFR: Intermediate Fuel Storage and Integral Fast Reactor, namely the commercially offered PRISM breeder reactor from General Electric Hitachi."

What he means here is the Power Reactor Innovative Small Module

Archer then sets out the sequence of events that would lead to the establishment of this fleet. In Archer's words "it goes like this. Australia establishes the world's first multinational repository for used fuel - what's often called nuclear waste"

However, he notes that "This is established on the ironclad commitment [my emphasis] to develop a fleet of integral fast reactors to demonstrate the recycling of the used nuclear fuel"


Funding for this fleet would be no problem, because "our international partners" would pay for the fleet and the waste repository.

Radioactive wastes from the new nuclear reactors would be no problem, because their half-lives would be only 30 years, (according to Archer) . All this, in solving the wastes problem, would enable a surge in development of conventional nuclear reactors world- wide, which, in turn, would boost our uranium industry.

Archer goes on to explain the safety features of the PRISM nuclear reactors, using the safer sodium coolant, preventing risk of meltdown. These Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) would have to be mass produced. The radioactive wastes would last for only 300 years.

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About the Author

Noel Wauchope taught science before switching to nursing. She has several post-graduate qualifications, in health informatics, medical terminology and clinical coding. She is a long time anti-nuclear activist.

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All articles by Noel Wauchope

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