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Correcting Alan Finkel’s nuclear fallacies

30 Oct 21 Friends of the Earth has written to Dr. Alan Finkel, Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology, correcting a number of his recent statements regarding nuclear power. The letter is online.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said:

“Dr. Finkel is honest and intelligent ‒ which is more than can be said for some of the ideologues and idiots promoting nuclear power ‒ but his recent statements regarding nuclear power contain a number of inaccuracies.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that the Fukushima disaster resulted in a “handful” of radiation deaths is inaccurate. The World Health Organization projects increases in all solid cancers, breast cancer, leukaemia and thyroid cancer. In addition, around 2,000 indirect deaths have been recorded. The economic costs amount to hundreds of billions of dollars and there is an incalculable human toll for the 160,000 evacuees from the disaster.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that safety is the number one imperative underpinning the design of modern reactors is an industry claim that cannot be substantiated. Nuclear power is, in the words of Bob Carr, “cripplingly expensive” and far more expensive than renewables. The nuclear industry is trying to compete economically ‒ mostly by gouging taxpayers and electricity ratepayers ‒ and that is the number one imperative driving everything the industry does.

“Dr. Finkel’s comments about the ‘beauty’ of small modular reactors ignore the fact that the only SMR operating anywhere in the world, a Russian plant, was nine-years behind schedule, six times over-budget, produces power at an exorbitant A$270 per megawatt-hour, and is used to power fossil fuel mining operations in the Arctic. It is ugly in every respect.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that high-level nuclear waste is being disposed of in a deep underground repository in Finland is false. The 2006 Switkowski report anticipated completion of this repository in 2010. Now, completion is anticipated in the mid-2020s. No waste has been disposed of.

“The only operating deep underground repository for nuclear waste is in the United States and was closed for three years after a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel in 2014 ‒ the culmination of staggering mismanagement and regulatory failures.

“Here in Australia, the federal government is trying to establish a national nuclear waste dump on farming land near Kimba in SA despite the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners and NH&MRC guidelines which state that farming land should not be used for nuclear waste repositories.”

“The viability of renewables coupled with multiple storage technologies and demand management is a work in progress but there are promising signs. For example, South Australia has reached a 60% renewable share and the Liberal state government is enthusiastically pursuing a 100% net renewables target by 2030. Moreover, the SA Liberal government states that nuclear is not viable now and will not be viable for the foreseeable future.

“Calls for a discussion about nuclear power overlook the fact that there have been four inquiries over the past five years. The Prime Minister said just a few days ago that the federal government has no intention of repealing legislation banning nuclear power, and no state government is interested.

“Surely this is the time to have a breather from the seemingly endless nuclear debate, rather than starting yet another discussion?”

October 30, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster

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