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No need for nuclear

Plans for renewable energy in Australia are becoming more possible. Firstly, new research shows a 20 year plan to reach between 70 -94% renewable energy by 2040. Secondly, Nuclear reactors take on average 20 years to construct. And so nuclear continues to be a dangerous distraction from real action on climate change.

In 2019 the Climate Energy Council wrote to the Government to argue against nuclear power. They argued that renewables, are cheaper, cleaner, faster and more popular. The CEC explained that nuclear continually fails to meet key criteria on social license and cost.

Climate Energy Council on nuclear power
Climate Energy Council 2019 – Parliamentary Inquiry into nuclear power.

There is overwhelming support for renewable energy in Australia. In 2019 over 60 organisations representing millions of Australians called for urgent transition to clean renewable energy. The statement there was a detailed description of why nuclear is not the solution to the climate crisis we face.

“The transition to clean, safe, renewable energy should also re-power the national economy. The development and commercialisation of manufacturing, infrastructure and new energy thinking is already generating employment and opportunity. This should be grown to provide skilled and sustainable jobs and economic activity, particularly in regional Australia.”

Joint Statement to the Parliamentary Inquiry on nuclear power.

Our energy future is renewable not radioactive. And we’re already doing it. Over the last 10 years renewable capacity in Australia has grown by 12% each year. Meanwhile this growth has been despite big road blocks and lack of leadership from government. Imagine what could happen with government support!

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nuclear power push & mining interests

The push to lift the ban on nuclear power in Australia has been driven by interests in uranium mining. This push is less about climate change and more about lifting the uranium price. The slump in uranium price since the Fukushima nuclear disaster has stopped a number of mines and forced others into suspension.

The Minerals Council of Australia has (as the AFR explain) waged a campaign to lift the ban on nuclear power. In the MCA Climate Change plan 2020 they promote advancing “nuclear solutions.” The MCA has released “untapped potential” promoting nuclear and uranium mining. They have promised to “advocate for the lifting of the nuclear energy ban in Australia.”

You don’t have to look far to see why the MCA has a sudden interest. They have at least 11 member groups who are uranium companies. Lifting the ban on nuclear power they believe would drive up the uranium price. The MCA also represent at least 14 coal companies. So is the MCA interested in climate change solutions. Or are they just looking out for a small number of marginal companies?

The uranium companies include: Boss Resources. BHP. Cameco Australia. Cauldron Energy. Deep Yellow. Heathgate Resources. Energy Resources Australia. Paladin Energy. Rio Tinto. Toro Energy and Vimy Resources.

Executives from BHP, Rio Tinto and Vimy Resources all hold board positions with the MCA. Previously executives from Toro Energy and Cameco were on the MCA board. And so it is not surprising the MCA has adopted a pro nuclear position.

nuclear power flyer
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Push to fast-track uranium mines no answer to climate crisis

The uranium mining industry are advocating to weaken Australia’s environmental approval process.

But the push to soften environmental approvals is no answer to the climate crisis.

Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at RMIT, Dr Gavin Mudd – argues why we must stop the push to fast-track uranium mines. See below for an Interview with Dr Gavin Mudd.

Uranium is a unique element with immense potential for misuse – as seen with rogue nuclear states like North Korea.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison states that BHP’s Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion will be fast-tracked for environmental approval.

Currently, any new uranium mine requires both state and federal government environmental approvals.

The Minerals Council of Australia wants to change this. They argue that uranium’s special risks are redundant and that environmental risks are adequately addressed in state processes. They want to remove the State government approval process.

Gavin Mudd argues that Federal oversight of uranium mining must remain. He says uranium mining, and nuclear power is not a solution for the climate crisis.

Read Dr Mudd’s article in the Conservation: “Expensive, dirty and dangerous: why we must fight the push to fast-track uranium mines”.

Listen to his chat with RTRFM’s Perth Indymedia Radio Show on why uranium mining approval remain a federal issue and the dangers of Nuclear Energy.

Perth Indymedia on RTRFM spoke with Dr Gavin Mudd – Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at RMIT University