In South Australia the continued nuclear push focusses solely on a nuclear waste importing industry. Yet that might not be economically viable. Behind the scenes, another agenda is being pursued - that of developing new generation nuclear reactors.
First, let's look at the message. The message from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) is clearly a plan to make South Australia rich, by importing foreign nuclear wastes.
The earlier NFCRC report "Tentative Findings" stated that:
...the storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel in South Australia is "likely to deliver substantial economic benefits to the South Australian community", with a commercially viable storage facility operational in the late 2020s - $5 billion a year over 30 years and $2 billion a year for the following 40 years.
The NFCRC's final recommendation is that :
...a state wealth fund that spreads the benefit to future generations of South Australians could reach about $445 billion overmore than 70 years.
South Australia has the attributes and capabilities to manage and dispose of international used nuclear fuel safely, and it would have significant intergenerational benefit to the community.
This theme has been repeated ad nauseam by the NFCRC's publicity, by politicians, and the mainstream media.
At present, the South Australian government is running a state-wide process of over 100 forums - "community consultations", where personnel, from the NFCRC and other nuclear experts are explaining the purportedly lucrative plan to local communities. At the same time, the Nuclear Citizens' Jury process is being continued, with meetings planned for October and November.
Meanwhile, the South Australian Parliament is holding a Committee Inquiry into the NFCRC's recommendations. This Committee asked witnesses about various aspects of the plan. However, an intense focus in questioning Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce, and Dr Tim Johnson from Jacob Engineering (financial reporter to the NFCRC) was directed at the economic question. It was clear that the politicians were concerned that there's a possibility of the State spending a significant amount of money on the project, which might then not go ahead. And, indeed, Dr Johnson acknowledged that, financially," there is a very significant risk". Mr Parnell quoted Jacobs' report:
...the total expenditure prior to the decision to proceed and sign contracts with client countries is likely to be from around AUD300 million to in excess of AUD600 million…
In other words, before we actually decide to go ahead, before we have signed any contracts,expenditure is up to and in excess of $600 million.
Whereas other countries are compelled to develop nuclear waste facilities, to deal with their waste production from civil and military reactors,that is not a necessity for Australia, (with the exception of relatively tiny amounts derived from the Lucas Heights research reactor).
So, the only reason for South Australia to develop a massive nuclear waste management business is to make money. If it's not profitable, then it shouldn't be done.
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