Letters Editor

Nuclear power no help against climate change

Leslie Kemeny (The Age 31/12/08)  quotes  the nuclear-powered European Union laughing all the way to the bank.”  In fact, nuclear power is going ahead only when fully or mainly owned by the government, as with France’s company AREVA.

In the USA nuclear plants rely on the Price Anderson Act – which provides tax-payer insurance against serious accidents (seeing that no insurance companies will provide this), and any new plants depend on increased federal government subsidy, and  government responsibility for nuclear waste disposal.

Controversial Mount Yucca Waste Dump Site Nevada

Controversial Mount Yucca Waste Dump Site in Southern Nevada with a Tertiary Volcanic History in the Region and a questionable Water Table Underneath

The costs of  nuclear waste disposal, including decommissioning old nuclear plants are almost inestimable, as these costs keep ballooning out. Nuclear waste disposal is a growing  problem, world-wide  now best exemplified by the current turmoil in the USA over the proposed Nevada nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

Kemeny’s real argument is that  nuclear power fights global warming..Dr. Bill Keepin, a consultant to the Energy Foundation of San Francisco, has estimated it would take 1,000 large new reactors in the U.S. and 5,000 worldwide (about 10 times the existing numbers) to replace coal generation at a minimum cost of $5 trillion, leaving five sixths of the greenhouse gas emissions untouched, as electrical generation only accounts for one sixth of the problem.

Meanwhile the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining, with its many intermediate stages, and involving much heavy transport, through to burial of wastes is a significant source of carbon emissions.

Noel Wauchope
2/40 Filbert Street
Caulfield South 3162

4 replies »


    It was both inspiring and sad, for personal reasons, to read this article by Ralph Vartabedian recently, where people gathered at an inconvenient Lone Pine venue in California to protest in what seems basic common sense to the citizens of any self respecting community to defend their rights to live without fear of inconvenience and exposure to the proven side effects of this senseless and highly toxic waste product.

    A point which may have been overlooked was that the speakers were concerned for the generations to come over the next thousands and thousands of years where governments change hands and the existence of these many waste dump areas can become lost in minds and location proving a hazzard for the unsuspecting.

    Why these dear people have hope that governments and miners can hear anything except the tingling of dollars in still a mystery.

    The government scientists, playing out their part, have no justifiable rights to make such a claim as to the safety of this waste proposal and it’s location, when it is obvious neither they nor the government they represent, will be liable in a few years time, let alone present in 10,000 years time when climate change will have inevitably altered the earth’s surface yet again leaving these toxins exposed to the future. This area has been classifed as volcanic, which implies that these scientist have no realistic vision or they are simply paid not to care.

    I found your letter most enlightening as a person who has been guilty of dabbling on the sharemarket in the past, for a quick buck.

    As one of many reformed share market gamblers I am now concerned more for the impact fool-harding people like ourselves may have contributed to the hardship in lack of support of wiser folk as featured in Ralph Vartebedian’s article (a short piece) below.

    Even guiltier, if I may confess, the realisation didn’t occur until the full impact came within close proximity of my own family. I now join Henry Williams and others like Wynne Benti in their protests that uranium is not for this world.

    I warn other dabblers to block their ears to the blindness in believing there is such a thing a fast buck without great cost, not only cost to the people we have ignored, but shamefully as mentioned when it eventually reaches our own doorstep.

    Quote: “Henry Williams, a Paiute Indian from Bishop, drove an hour south to a meeting hall to deliver his tribe’s verdict on the contested federal plan to bury nuclear waste inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, about 16 miles from the California border.

    “I am here to speak for my Paiute family,” he told a public hearing last week held by federal government. “We have been here for thousands of years. Our spirits in this area are totally against this.”

    “We are putting a burden on future generations to watch and care for this waste longer than man has been on this earth,” said Roger Rasche, a retired proofreader from Lone Pine. “I hope future generations will be forgiving.”

    Government scientists insist that there is no chance any radioactivity could leak for 10,000 years and that the dump will be safe for hundreds of thousands of years after that.

    The hearing also focused on another aspect of the plan: getting the waste to the dump.

    The plan calls for 13,600 truck and rail shipments of waste, about 12 percent of which probably would move through California.

    Wynne Benti, a book publisher in Bishop, said the environmental impact statements, one for the dump and one for a rail transportation plan, failed to adequately assess the risk of accidents in transportation or the federal government’s ability to respond.

    “Recent experience shows, from the collapse of a bridge in downtown Minneapolis to a barge dumping oil into the San Francisco Bay, that federal and local agencies’ ability to coordinate and quickly deal with the aftermath of large-scale accidents have been wrought with delays in communication and immediate, critical action,” she said.

    The Energy Department has also failed to explain who will pay for emergency training and equipment along those rail and tuck lines, said David Weisman of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

    The group alleges that the Energy Department held the hearing in remote Lone Pine to discourage a larger turnout.”


    When you look at the issue of nuclear waste in the broader sense, one would think the warning bells should have gone off already as to the potential for criminal activity here.

    A small child learns evolution at school. Over time the terrain and waterways change dramatically along with the course precious water takes as it forms rivers of quality. The waterways are the basis for communities existence both now and in the future.

    What happens when the Yucca Mountain area or the Australian desert becomes a tropic or an ocean 10.000 years on? These occurences have also been predicted by science. Which scientists do we believe?

    It was disappointing to learn that the British are likely to have dumped Maralinga nuclear waste in the sea with knowledge of the Australian Government. And again, the mining company in the wonderul Flinders Ranges, arrogantly burying radioactive waste in a sanctuary. If they didn’t know it was wrong then why didn’t they just leave it out in the open? That government proved extremely helpful in aiding this crime.

    It makes one wonder who these people think they are to betray their own kind over and over again?

    Those who are party to these crimes including unearthing these poisons and the disposal of them in a more toxic and reckless form, may be tried for crimes against humanity in the future.

    With water, first and foremost in the minds of countries whose water has been lost forever to mining “giants,” now on the skids, no one appears to have learned. I’m sorry to say this here, but I believe the media have lost their morals and responsibility to the people as they hide the most obvious. They too are just along for the ride, seeking favour with the money makers of the day.

    As for our governments, it makes you wonder whether the people really need them to be so heavily involved in corporations who appear to only be here for a good time and certainly not a long time. It’s not unknown that many mining companies import water for their own personal use. Why not drink the local water? Is it not safe? The nearby communities drink it!

    It is becoming apparent quite early in the game that this whole nuclear project could be a giant Ponzi Scheme, with profiteering first and foremost, not global warming intervention. Global warming is rather ugent wouldn’t one think? It is only because of these big emitters that we may have an early climate change.

    The maths simply don’t add up given the emissions involved in the process being discussed here. The dilemna of waste management security for the longer term future is blatantly clear – even to young children.

    See also:


    Amanda you say:

    “As for our governments, it makes you wonder whether the people really need them to be so heavily involved in corporations who appear to only be here for a good time and certainly not a long time.”

    The real surprise to come is that our governments are in fundamental breach of the most basic duty of care, arising from the act of ‘government’ under the Westminster system of Democracy. Rudd, Wong, Ferguson for want of technical definition are acting as, and on behalf of rogue corporations who are flagrant in their acts of public and planetary terrorism. As such decisions made or endorsed become prima facie evidence in any independant and corruption free court, assessing the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, when the time for establishing damages arrives.

    That we are lied to, misled, and exposed to the current and extended risks of publicly elected officials, in the name of duty, is nothing less than a fraud upon the people of Australia.


    Yes, someone is benefitting here and it’s not the people of Australia. An expensive and dangerous excercise, in disposing of nuclear waste is being withheld from the eyes and knowledge of the public. This government has a short memory as to who believed their bulldust and put them in this disastrous position in the first place.

    Much criticism has been aimed at the inefficiency of the nuclear industry for which the tax paying, voting public is contemptibly ignored. Tally up the financial costs and the public safety risks involved in this foolhardy processing and disposal excercise and give up this satanic practice which benefits only a few and let the people of this country get on with normal lives.

    Countries who wish to have nuclear energy and have no resources of their own should reasses how big their request is. Politicians in this country should also reassess how stupid they think the public are and just remember we will be voting again in the not so distant future. Your changing colours will not be forgotten. Uranium, only recently painted green, is the filthiest and most destructive of all processing practices both before and after it leaves the ground.

    Jano Gibson reports

    February 22, 2009

    THE public has the right to know full details of a secret shipment of nuclear waste due to be trucked through Sydney streets in the next four months, the Greens say.

    Five years’ worth of spent nuclear fuel rods from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor will be transported to the US by the middle of the year, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation says.

    But the organisation refuses to reveal the date or route of the operation, except that it will take place in the “Sydney/ Illawarra region”.

    “The shipment will be conducted under strict international and national security and safety standards,” a spokeman said.

    In 2003 and 2006 fuel rods were trucked in sealed casks from Lucas Heights to Port Botany before being sent overseas.

    The Greens suspect the next consignment, which will comprise 159 spent nuclear fuel rods, will travel from Lucas Heights to Port Kembla.

    Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said: “The safety of Sydney and Illawarra residents is now at risk through this covert operation … The route and time that this transportation will occur must be immediately published.”


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