Emissions Nuclear

Follow Britain’s nuclear lead

Brook_FissionHere’s an Op Ed I had published in today’s Adelaide Advertiser newspaper. A supporting piece from the paper’s reporters is here.

For more on the British plans for new nuclear power, see here and here.


WHETHER you are primarily concerned about climate change, or energy security, the British Government’s choice to build 10 new large nuclear power stations by 2025 should come as welcome news.

Nuclear power is the only proven electricity generation technology that can simultaneously meet reliable baseload demand, anywhere, and yet emit no carbon dioxide when operating.

Along with hydropower from dams, it is the only clean energy technology that has been shown to be scalable. France, for instance, derives nearly 80 percent of its electricity from 59 nuclear plants.

Nuclear-powered France is the world’s biggest electricity exporter, has the cheapest power rates in Europe, and has the lowest carbon footprint per person.

On this basis, it is easy to understand the UK government’s decision to pursue nuclear power in a big way. A resolution, I might add, that has bipartisan political support. Australia, take heed.

Worldwide, in 2008 nuclear power avoided 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to what would have been emitted if coal-fired stations had instead been used.

What of the economics of the UK plan? Like any large capital infrastructure project, it will be expensive.

Yet aside from concrete, steel and labour, much of the cost of new nuclear comes from regulatory risk.

The UK wisely plan to cut through this red tape by reducing planning permission times from seven to one year, and vetoing the right of local authorities to block construction.

They’ve clearly learned valuable lessons from history.

The UK is now paying dearly for their dash for gas, following the coal mine closures of the 1980s. Their once-abundant North Sea fields are rapidly depleting.

Again, Australia should take note of this warning. We must not go down the natural gas-for-coal substitution route. It would be long-term economic suicide.

Also, gas is a carbon-based fossil fuel, releasing 600kg of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

Unlike the situation for uranium power, the electricity price is strongly tied to the fuel price for gas. A spike in the gas price means big jumps in power prices.

Cheap uranium energy is a much more secure proposition. Gas is best reserved to meet occasional peak power demands, not baseload needs.

Lazy, recycled objections to the UK nuclear plan come from the usual suspects – Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

I’ve been forced to conclude that these so-called environmental organisations are not actually interested in climate change mitigation or clean energy supply.

Their founding principles are to oppose nuclear technology in all forms. They are immune to arguments based on logic or scientific evidence.

They ignore technological developments that solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem (it is burned as energy in fast spectrum reactors).

They can’t seem to accept the fact that there is enough uranium to provide the whole world with zero-carbon power for millions of years.

All they care about is being anti-nuclear.

Fortunately, the world is passing them by. Australia should too. It’s time to go nuclear green.

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

130 replies on “Follow Britain’s nuclear lead”

Barry had calculations about wind and solar and IFR. If he could send those calculations to ten thousand politicians (who don´t know science and facts) all around the world, once per month, year after year. Or perhaps to hundred thousands…


I thought it might be interesting for readers to see two reactions in today’s Daily Telegraph to “Britain’s Nuclear Lead”. The Telegraph is right of centre and neither correspondent quoted is out and out anti-nuclear. Both express caveats.

Environment correspondent:

“Energy efficiency plans lost in drive for atomic option”

“The change in policy, as Mr Miliband made clear, was brought about by increasing evidence of the dire effects of climate change.
The problems of nuclear power have not gone away despite more than half a century of use in Britain.
We still do not know how we are going to dispose of its highly radioactive waste.
Human error will always cause accidents, no matter how well reactors are designed, and a disaster in one of the planned power stations could be especially devastating because they could release more radioactivity. And they remain tempting targets for terrorists.
None of these drawbacks outweigh the dangers of climate change and so it will be well worth embracing the atom if it can prevent global warming running out of control, or even play a major part in doing so. That, however, is not yet clear.
The reactors cannot be built quickly, and are almost always hit by delays and overrunning costs.
That is what happened to the only two examples, in finland and france, of the reactor EDF wants to build in Britain, and now nuclear regulatorsin all three countries have expressed doubts about their safety.
The essential thing is not to put too many eggs in the nuclear basket.
It is far from clear that it will deliver in time, and a single bad accident or terrorist outrage could cause the world to turn away from nuclear power.
The other elements in Mr Miliband’s – cleaning up emissions from coal and rapidly expanding renewable resources – are even more important.
But the most vital, and cost-effective , policy of all would be to reduce the waste of energy.”

I find this very depressing. Seems to be written by an anti nuclear reporter wishing to retain his job with a pro nuclear editor. I don’t know whether there should be a response from someone with the authority to do so and possibly have an effect.

The second piece is more interesting and raises questions to which I would like reassuring answers:

Business comment – Damian Reece:

“To keep the lights on and meet our environmental targets, including generating 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020, we are going to have to find £200 bn – that’s Ofgem’s official estimate. This scale of investment needs to start being made now if we’re going to meet Miliband’s dream of having the first of of our new nuclear sites humming by 2018 – but we’re in the middle of the worst credit crunch in 80 years, making financing for this sort of thing challenging.
But we’re not alone in wanting to build more nuclear reactors.
China, for instance, is expected to have completed 22 by the end of next year with 132 planned in the next 20. This is according to Japan Steel Works, which supplies specialist steel casings in which the nuclear reaction takes place – it pretty much has a monopoly on that business and has been turning out parts for 5.5 reactors a year. The good news is it’s investing in its plant so it can supply kit for 12 reactors a year but the queue forming outside its headquarters on Japan’s Hokkaido Island is lengthening by the day.
I see the Chinese in the line, the Indians, French, Poles, Hungarians, Italians and many others but no sign of the Brits. Even if there was enough kit and capital to go round, ther’s no certainty the French and German utilities that control nuclear here will choose to invest in the UK compared to their own nuclear-hungry domestic markets that may have higher subsidies and better returns. To make it attractive here, assuming the technology works, energy prices are going to have to rise, which is why that £200bn bill
will end up on our doormats. The consumer will pay and, given that time is running out thanks to Labour dithering, that cost will be a burden in the immediate term, not the long term.
The fact that the cost of emitting carbonis still low enough to make investing in alternatives a mug’s game anyway makes Miliband’s vision of “near- zero carbon emissions from power delusional.”

How serious is the potential bottleneck of special steel for pressurised reactors? How quickly could other steelworks gear up to cope? Given the uncertainty for investors, what should government’s do to expedite matters? Should they take a nationalised approach or encourage private equity? Britain appears to have sold out its nuclear industry to the French. Was this sensible? If not, how long would it take to start again with one’s own nationalised nuclear industry? Would this be legal?
Pension Fund managers have huge amounts of money to invest but are struggling to find suitable investment opportunities which would give safe long term returns. Could governments do anything to convince them that investing in nuclear would achieve their aims? If so, what?


Prof. Brooks writes in The Advertiser, in what appears to be an article possibly misleading the SA public into believing that the 4th generation reactors he favours are already to be had off the shelf::


These are sadly uncharacteristic smears from an article for a notorious populist SA rag. Firstly, where is the evidence (statutes, etc.) of such “founding principles”; secondly, the two organisations named have been conducting scientific studies and quoting them since before Prof Brooks got his chair; and thirdly, where
are these fourth-generation/fast spectrum reactors? It is not as if Tom Blees, whose book I am reading at Prof. Brooks recommendation, is talking about a series production, given that development of this type of reactor was canned by the USA in 1994.

Prof Brooks does not mention to the SA public that US politics (Sen. John Kerry) was scared of nuclear proliferation in 1994: any discussion of clean global nuclear energy would seem risible without addressing/reconciling the perceived threat it causes to US military and hence economic power, given eg 700 bases around the world incl. Pine Gap and NW Cape, and Obama’s post-election refusal to switch the instant launch status of many US missiles down to a safer level. Every US president since Truman has threatened an opponent verbally with atomic war, possibly excepting Gerry Ford.


1. references to what UK and Italy etc. are currently said to be building is specious, as they are not the waste-burning IFR reactors AKA the “Silver Bullets to slay the Global Heating Werewolf” that Prof Brooks and Blees advocate. Or have I missed something?
2. haters of Greenpeace and FOE such as Brooks have called them many things, but I never read the smear “lazy” yet, nor the allegation “so-called environmental….”
3. what is is in Prof. Brooks mind when he uses “recycled” as a pejorative adjective?




The editorial is over Britain’s plan for deploying reactors of the Gen III type. Was not this clear Peter? It was to me. All Gen IV reactors need to be talked up, financed R&D and develop clear national and international plans to deploy them. They compliment Gen III reactor deployment at several levels and will, eventually, replace them.

No one said Italy and Sweden are building nuclear power plants. The made the first big steps by eliminating their “bans” on new nuclear and are setting up the process to build new ones.

At any rate, there are over 40 reactors under construction world wide and this is the model we need to look at. Countries are going nuclear because it’s clearly in their national interest to do so. The UK has simply started lumbering in that direction. Good for them.


David Walters is disingenuous. His overlooking the military and power politics aspects I mentioned is not atypical for this blog, which betrays something of a techno-fix stance. See the recent New Scientist 2009 article on research done into the typical mindset of engineers.

Walters`praise of “national interest” per se is bizarre: it is Rudd’s view of AU national interest, after all, to pander to lignite interests.

Blees/Brooks appear to be pushing the IFR because while the IFR is supposed to solve all/most power supply problems while slashing C02e. In addition, its hazardous waste lasts a few centuries only and it is said to be no good for making nuclear bombs, while actually being able to burn waste from Gen. III reactors.

Now all of a sudden Prof Brooks writes an article for The Advertiser in which he de facto merges/dissolves the dangers of Gens. I-III into what he and Blees say only elsewhere that they actually want, ie Gen. IV by failing to mention the IFR in The Advertiser at all. This is a prima facie case of bad faith: is Gen. III to be Brooks’ Trojan Horse for Gen. IV?. or is the plebs too thick to know the difference?

But note that there has been no solution for storage of waste for Gens. I-III these last 60 years: this may be irrelevant to SA residents in a huge and largely unsettled AU state but it is definitely not in eg Germany, where thousands of police are regularly deployed year after year to guard trains carrying reprocessed German nuclear waste back from La Hague to be dumped in the salt mines at Gorleben where they live. There are regular mass fights and arrests.

Maybe the demonstrators never read James Lovelock’s offer in Revenge of Gaia to use nuclear waste to warm himself…

Childhood leukemia close to non-IFR reactors in France and Germany is “non-random” to put it mildly: Google Mainz and La Hague.

Closing, an unexplored assumption on this blog seems to be that rolling out IFRs, as Brooks or Jim Hansen want, is all that is needed to bring back C02e to safe levels; no other change is allegedly needed to modes of business/economic production/distribution. And so China can consume per capita like the USA by 2050? And Schumacher’s “Small is beautiful” or notions of decentralisation are allegedly romantic, Green, woollen- shirt, sandal-wearing tosh last pushed in AU by the “uneconomic” Jim Cairns?

However, there are strong reasons for doubting the viability of the IFR technofix even if everything Blees says about it is true: while it would, on trend, slow cryosphere and boreal (tundra methane) melting and oceanic acidification/clathrate dissolution, it is silent on e.g. cement production for C02, meat food husbandry for C02 and CH4, air travel for NOX and C02, and deforestation.


Peter, I noted I was addressing ONE issue, your fake “CO2 being upwards of 75% of that Gas”. ONE issue Peter. You have failed to respond to this through deflection of another issue I did not intend to address.

Secondly, Peter, this blog, and many others, have addressed proliferation concens by first understanding what proliferation is and not going on with the sort of Helen Caldicott *Know-Nothingism” belief that civilian nuclear energy equals nuclear WMD.

It is up to you prove how this occurs. We’ve answered this here and other places too many times already. Proliferation concerns, in Australia and other places have already been answered time and again. For your benefit I am sure we can do it again. If you can suggest why rolling out Gen III/IV reactors scares you (and others) we can address it.

The idea of rolling out these non-carbon sources of generation will help climate change is hardly disputed: if it lowers, significantly, CO2, then it is doing it’s job. What else is there? You don’t like it because you don’t like the fact that nuclear helps mitigate coal and gas. It bothers you. I’m looking for solutions to climate change, nuclear certainly has a leg up.

Having said that, no one denies others aspects of ‘consumption’ and production are not issues. I have done this myself on this blog on more than one occasion. Everyone has their own POV on this as I’m sure you understand. Mine is that it’s absurd to talk about consumption issues with 2 billion or more people who currently are *under consuming* most notably in energy. That any discussion on how “we consume” too much needs to be predicated FIRST on the what is the material basis from which we can address these other issues?

That nuclear can provide the *material* basis for discussing all these other alternatives is where I start from, Peter. For example, suppose we can use high energy nuclear power to produce synthetic fuels? Or use advanced isotopes created in nuclear reactors to make new compounds that could help, say, lower CO2 emissions from the production of concrete? Or use nuclear generated desalination to restore wetland and greenlands to former CO2 sinkability?

David W.


“Childhood leukemia close to non-IFR reactors in France and Germany is “non-random” to put it mildly: Google Mainz and La Hague.”

As I mention in a previous thread, countless studies have shown that populations in close proximity to a nuclear power plant receive negligible levels of radiation exposure relative to general population and are no more susceptible to cancer than the average person. The fact remains that ionizing radiation emissions from nuclear plants are closely controlled and involve negligible levels of exposure for communities near the plants. Reports about cancer case clusters in such communities have raised public concern, but studies show clusters do not occur more often near nuclear plants than they do elsewhere. In other words if one were to pick any facility at random, say shopping centers, and ran the same statistical sweeps, one would find the same types of clusters, and this information would be just as worthless.

The key to dispelling this myth is to acknowledge that:

1. Cancer clusters around an operating nuclear power plant are a meaningless statistical artifact.

2. No single person can go through life without experiencing some level of radiation dose on a daily basis.

3.The levels of radiation emitted at or near a nuclear power plant, and the associated level of risk, are negligible in comparison to that experienced in commonly occurring events and activities experienced by most on a day-to-day basis.

Once you are able to come to terms with these facts it becomes painstakingly obvious that, contrary to popular belief, nuclear power plants do NOT cause cancer, and in fact pose no threat to an individual’s health.


I think Adelaide is a good place to have this debate because in the back of people’s minds are concerns about hypocrisy, self reliance and looming problems. Like it or not the State is a key player in the world nuclear fuel cycle via uranium mining at Olympic Dam, Beverley, Honeymoon and Four Mile. Gas reserves (Cooper and Otway basins) have peaked and future gas will have to come from far away. Some generation (Playford B coal station) needs urgent replacement. An exotic stream (River Murray) cannot be depended upon for water supply and grid sapping desalination will be needed. Future summers may hit 50C when wind power doesn’t help and air conditioning will be rationed.

So Adelaide has both the means and the need to turn to nuclear power. If it doesn’t there will be serious cutbacks, something that may sit uneasily with the city’s many artistic folk. Perhaps they are hesitating to vote ‘No’ on the Adelaide Now poll. There are a few stumbles ahead though. Next year’s decision on the Olympic Dam expansion will be no decision and new gas fired generation will be built regardless. However in a couple of years the logic will be inescapable.



Firstly and generally, there was a high-level resignation at WHO as cited in New Scientist since 2000 owing to the fact that WHO’s founding statutes expressly require it to support IAEO and nuclear energy, come what may. Which has a bearing on Western/capitalist downplaying of Chernobyl deaths second only to the USSR’s own coverup as well as on many “objective” studies such as those you cite: there is nothing like the fear of future losing govt. contracts to induce an ostensibly independent lab to fudge results. This played a role in analysis of the Elbmarsch atomic reactor leukaemia cluster in Schleswig-Holstein since 1990. But then direct knowledge of France and Germany , the latter having 17 plants in operation, is non-existent on this blog.

You are (deliberately) not up date on cancer epidemiology. So citing from, German govt. website discussing its Federal KiKK -study of late 2007:

“The epidemiological study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (KiKK) resulted in the finding that in Germany children under 5 years of age contract cancer, in particular leukaemia, more frequently the nearer they live to a nuclear power plant. Earlier ecological studies already showed an increased risk of children under 5 years of age living within the 5-km-zone around a nuclear power plant site contracting cancer. Since it was designed in a more elaborate way (case-control study) than earlier studies, the KiKK study provides a more reliable database. On the basis of the more exact methodology it could be shown that the childhood cancer incidence rate depends on the distance of the home to a nuclear power plant site and that the increased risk prevails in the entire study region, i. e. also outside the 5-km-zone.

In the study other risk factors were examined, too, which have been known for having a carcinogenic effect or of which this has been assumed. However, no indications could be found that other risk factors can explain why children under 5 years of age living in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant have contracted cancer more frequently than children living farther away. Due to the fact that the risk clearly depends on the distance to the nuclear power plant sites, the study thus provides indications of possible interrelations but it does not provide any proof.”


peter lalor, if you want to walk over the well-trodden ground on radiation, it’s already been stomped to dust over on this thread:

Feel free to kick it up again, but all of your arguments have already been covered in the post and 232 comments that followed.

You might also wish to read Geoff Russell’s piece in OO, which scrutinises the ‘cancer cluster’ claim:
Lies, damned lies, and radiation statistics:


I think this is excellent news. This is one area where intelligent governmetn action cna be more efficient as well as safer than private sector delivery. France basically held a design competition to design a safe nuclear reactor and then mass produced dozens of the same few designs. This saves a fortune and ensures a reliable, safe outcome.

I am not convinecd by the cancer study. Correlation does not prove causation, especially for low-incidence events. There are cancer clusters near coal fired power stations too, yet we still build the damn things. The solution is the same for both. Build the power plant well away from a town or city (say more than 10km from Port Augusta in our case) and there is no problem. This is what Finland did with their reactors.


the IFR technofix

What do you mean by “technofix”? Do you think massive development of wind power is not a technofix? Do you think massive development of concentrating solar power with molten salt storage is not a technofix? Do you think these strategies should not be pursued, because they are technofixes?

Any solution to co2 emissions is going involve some substantial deployment of an energy generation technology. Labelling just the technology you don’t like as a “technofix” is empty, disingenuous rhetoric.


@peter lalor

First the KiKK study provides no data base, and I doubt that you understand the meaning of the term if you are using it in this context. I have criticized this particular study in detail at Depleted Cranium.

First and foremost this study is looking at a very small effect in terms of the actual numbers of sick children involved, and the statistical tools used do not have the necessary power to allow firm conclusions to be drawn.

Second (as they themselves admit) case-controlled studies cannot prove anything. The only epidemiological paradigm that can are prospective cohort studies. Significantly where these have been done nothing has been found.

Thirdly, they did not provide a significant control survey to validate the study design.

Finally it is challenging—but not impossible—to estimate the effective dose of ionizing radiation from an NPP to which a child may have been exposed over the years. Measurements of in-body levels of radioactivity are critical to resolve this issue and the most feasible way to take such measurements is to test for bone-seeking isotopes in baby teeth. Until such exposure measurements are made, any attempt to link radiation or radioisotopes from NPPs to health impacts are pure conjecture.


@Barry Brook

I repeat my amazement Prof Brook that your Advertiser article appears to cheerlead UK and other non IFR reactors, in view of IFR’s alleged superiority as outlined by Blees in regard of usefully burning Gen. III and II. atomic waste; producing merely short-dated waste itself; not having any WMD proliferation relevance.

Is your intention hence to have Gen. III reactors in SA and anywhere else eg on geological faultlines if necessary, if you cannot achieve Gen. IV IFRs? Will you store the waste in your backyard, like James Lovelock has said he would like to do in the UK? Or just wait until the inviting depths of the Southern Ocean off neoliberal, cost-cutting SA lead to a re-run of Norway illegally palming off its atomic waste on the Italian Mafia to dump in the Med, as has happened? The disposal cost difference is of course enormous, the UN says 400x, in fact.

Would you not say, in fact, that a certain number of deaths from Gen. III. reactor accidents and waste is an acceptable price to pay when set against currently countable direct and indirect deaths from fossil fuel extraction plus future deaths flowing from non-adoption of Gen III., if your Gen. IV does not go into series?

If you are thus as happy with Gen III. as Gen IV. (because you think you have your eye on the CO2e ball), and I cannot yet see that you are not, why not say so? Because in your Advertiser article you merely comment on IFRs, without making them a sine qua non:

“They ignore technological developments that solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem (it is burned as energy in fast spectrum reactors).”


Peter Lalor, we — global society — will need plenty of Gen III reactors built in the next two decades, as the transition between generations is made. A full 10 TWe deployment of nuclear power by 2050 could only be achieved by a Gen III/IV synergy.

I would hope that the first reactor built in South Australia is a Gen IV design, but if the first few are a Gen III+ then that is fine with me also. And to what deaths from Gen III reactors or spent fuel are you referring?

Fast reactors and LFTRs solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem. They are the inevitable evolution of fission technology — my aim is to help fast track them. If they do ‘not go into series’ for some reason, then nuclear power has no future beyond the next 4-5 decades, and the human society has rather larger problems to face than dealing with a tiny amount of used LWR fuel.


“Fast reactors and LFTRs solve the long-lived nuclear waste problem. They are the inevitable evolution of fission technology — my aim is to help fast track them.”

fair enough Barry, but the statement “it is burned as energy in fast spectrum reactors” does seem a little misleading. “it could be burned…” would seem more accurate. Wouldn’t your aim of fast tracking fast reactors be better served by promoting them explicitly at every opportunity rather than apparent whole-hearted support for any nuclear reactor? There will surely be powerful vested interests hoping to promote a nuclear industry based purely on extracted uranium rather than waste?


Jim, I’m not sure quite where you are coming from. Barry can speak for himself, but it seems to me that it not a question that Generation III NPPs are some how “inferior” or not “worthwhile”. They are quite worth while. They are safer than Gen II reactors, more fuel efficient, and it will take a safe, relatively cheap deployment of Gen III reactors to win over the public to this wonderful way of producing energy and at the same time providing the equipment needed to phase out coal and gas. I don’t understand why you think Barry is somehow remiss in supporting *currently* deploying fission power?

Secondly, I’m not sure why you are hung up on the ‘tense’ Barry is using in describing the IFR. When engineers and scientists describe what a technology can do,, they don’t use “could of” “would” “should”, etc. I’ve never seen a paper that describes any technology with such ‘flaky’ could of/should of/would of terms. But that’s me.


In a way Jim is right… when you have roll out of Gen III you can bet your bottom dollar the indstry will resist moving to Gen IV – which is essentially the death knell for uranium mining. However, there will be many countries that will seek Gen IV because it will free them from imported uranium in the same way countries want to free themselves from imported oil. I don’t personally believe it was a coincidence that IFR for example was quietly swept under the carpet.

Personally I’ve been convinced that Gen III is a sound option to see us to a point where Gen IV comes online, but I’ve been where Jim is and it took some convincing to take the next step that is for sure.


In most cases Gen III/Gen III+ will be built for the time being in most countries simply because of the problems getting type approval for novel designs. While this is certainly sub-optimal, it is the only practical route that can be taken at the moment under the regulatory regimes that currently are in force in most nations.

As for the uranium issue, yes perhaps there will not be much interest in breeders in those countries with a uranium mining industry, however countries like India have made their intentions clear that they wish to exploit their indigenous thorium supplies, and not be dependent on others for fissionable material for their reactors. One can also imagine that should the US begin a major effort at building nuclear power plants, that they too will make the same calculation, as they do not produce that much yellowcake from local supplies.


Hello Barry,

I admire the way you present your point of view, you support it with lost of facts, and your writing is enjoyable and easy to read,

I just discovered this blog, and find it very informative, I will be back to read more posts,

thank you,
Jim Cassa


I have some questions about the speed of development of nuclear. I’m convinced we need it, and I most like the look of MSRs, but a few things I’ve seen recently worry me about how much time we actually have to develop fossil fuel alternatives before the fossil fuels run out.
I originally posted this question at:

This article furthers my worry about this
“Yesterday’s Guardian raised questions about whether oil reserves published in the past by the IEA have been inflated.
Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower”

I do not want to spend time on learning how to go back to the land to survive with a gun to shoot people who want the food in my vegetable garden.
Can someone please re-assure me we can (and will) develop the MSR/IFR soon enough to avoid the picture of doom most people on TOD think is the future?


Also this guy:

Michael Ditmar “The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction – Part IV: Energy from Breeder Reactors and from Fusion?”

where he’s pretty skeptical about fission breeders. I mean he’s a CERN physicist. If fission breeders are the only course ahead (and I can’t see it any other way) where do these physicists, who should know better, come from?



As I understand it, gen III still has the problem of long-lived waste, right? If so, this is a major problem for many people – if gen IV mostly solves the problem, then that fact should be stated loud and clear at every opportunity. Instead of saying, “well done the Brits for building new reactors, lets do the same”, I’d like to see people like Barry saying “this is a step in the right direction, but we desperately need to move towards Gen IV reactors because….”.

My concern with the” tense” is that, in the context it was written (an opinion piece in a newspaper, not a scientific paper), it implies the waste issue is already solved (i.e. waste already is being “burnt as energy”) – its not, because there are no fast reactors yet (or are there?). I just think a statement more like “it could be burnt as energy in fast spectrum reactors, if only the world would embrace that technology ….” would have better promoted fast reactors and would have been less likely to be interpreted as deliberately misleading (which I’m sure it wasn’t – but you have to be very careful with an issue like this).


If Australia did construct one or more Gen III reactors the naysayers will hold the stage for years. The sites would be constantly picketed. During construction opponents would cherry pick endless statistics, the usual FUD. Bureaucrats with a hidden agenda could slow construction arbitrarily. An ‘off the shelf’ Gen III design might need modification to include desalination. A geological repository might be wise as would be enrichment in Australia.

I gather ANSTO entertained that idea some years back but the SILEX process has now gone to the US. The fact that Olympic Dam yellowcake leaves Australia via Darwin not Adelaide could be more to do with avoiding trouble than economics. One of the ISL producers wants to ‘upgrade’ its product; presumably that means making the fluoride so that could be a first step.

It seems certain the current crop of political insiders will steer us along the cheap-then-expensive natural gas route for some years before the penny drops. Big business will object to large electricity bills the same as households. The expensive gas route will not only generate a lot of CO2 but it could leave the economy too poor to afford any large scale nuclear generation technology. That seems where we’re headed.


There_Is_No_Such_Thing_As_Nuclear_Waste. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the non-fissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth’s crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.

Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 — which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical diagnostic procedures in the Western world now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business.

What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains — from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy — beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.

The supposed problem of “nuclear waste” is entirely the result of a the decision in 1976 by US President Gerald Ford to suspend reprocessing, which President Jimmy Carter made permanent in 1977. The fear was that agents of foreign powers or terrorists groups would steal plutonium from American plants to manufacture bombs.

That fear has proved to be misguided. If foreign powers want a bomb, they will build their own reactors or enrichment facilities, as North Korea and Iran have done. The task of extracting plutonium from highly radioactive material and fashioning it into a bomb is far beyond the capacities of any terrorist organization.

‘Waste’ burning reactors are in fact just more efficient reactors, that have been named more as a PR effort than anything else.

But in the end the shear volumes of long-lived hazardous waste generated by burning coal dwarf the ‘waste’ produce by a once-through nuclear reactor for the same amount of electricity generated. Not only that, but it is easily immobilized, solid and less toxic than coal ash. Of course it also didn’t produce any CO2 while it was being used.


DV82XL is essentially correct Jim. There is a spent nuclear fuel “issue” but not a problem. When I tell friends, interested parties that the entire SNF of the U.S., for the last 50 years, ALL OF IT, would fit into a Home Depot store, they find it unbelievable.

Barry has said what you think he should say. Hansen says it almost exclusively. But the fact is that Gen III will help solve a much bigger problem than the supposed ‘waste’ problem created by it. The only reason, IMHO, that we ought to proceed quicker toward LFTR or IFR is *not* the SNF issue, but because it’ll be cheaper, faster to deploy and generally far more flexible.

But we *need* Gen III NOW because every MW of it mitigates the carbon out put of coal and gas. One for one, right now, as soon as they go online.

We have have a general “vision”, all of us who advocate actively either the IFR or the LFTR: as Gen III units displace big baseload coal and gas, Gen IV can move in and help initially to supplement smaller, distributive generation via these reactors. As more and more LFTRs and IFRs and other Gen IV type reactors get deployed, they are used to supplement the phasing out of fossil used additionally for process heat as well. Then, slowly, as Gen III reactors run their course after 60 to 80 years, and remaining Gen II reactors are decommissioned, we can use Gen IV to replace them.

Politically and socially, acceptance of Gen III, superior in all ways to Gen II, needs to succeed while we push for deployment funds for Gen IV reactors. Because they are both fission, in the eyes of the public, they are tied to the hip. They rise or fall together because that is how they will be perceived. We will work, hopefully with your help, to show the future relies on Gen IV for all (as in “ALL)” our energy needs. But that will not come about until the expected massive deployment of Gen III runs it’s course.


16 canisters hold all the used fuel from 32 years of nuclear power generation from the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant. 99% of the available energy in that fuel has not been used yet. The fuel is available for use in the future. Why would anyone want to dispose of it?

Can someone please provide a link to a photo showing how the toxic waste (all of it) from other generations technologies is similarly well contained?

How long does the toxic waste from other electricity generation technologies last?

Is the toxic waste from other electricity generation technologies more or less toxic than nuclear waste?


re# 34631 Barry Brook and #34146 Peter Lang

On this thread, Barry, you state that Gen III can only fuel the planet for 3-4 decades and that, if nuclear power is to be sustainable, we’ll need Gen IV technology. This is entirely consistent with what I’ve read elsewhere. You have also pointed out that, to maximise the the speed and extent of emissions reduction, we need Gen IIIs now to provide sufficient “start charges” to deploy plenty of Gen IVs as soon as they become available.

Peter, on the “Critique of “a path to sustainable energy by 2030” “thread, you suggested that Gen III technology itself was more sustainable than renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

I am wondering whether there is an inconsistency of view between you on this subject. It is possible, Peter, that you may consider, for example, that 3-4 decades should really be 3-4 centuries or 3-4 millennia. Alternatively, you may merely have been implying that , if we rely on renewables only, there will be so much economic chaos that we won’t have a sustainable civilisation in less than 3-4 decades anyway.

I wonder if it would be possible for a little more discussion of this matter in order to achieve some degree of consensus.


Hi Douglas,

I think my view is a little different on this.

Firstly, From my perspective, the quantity of uranium in known high grade deposits is irrelevant. The quantity of high grade uranium deposits will increase as we explore. The rate of finding more uranium will depend on the price of uranium. The quantity of uranium in the Earth’s continental crust, in phosphate deposits and in sea water far exceeds what we would need until other better or lower cost technologies replace the Gen III. As time progresses, extraction methods improve. So far we have hardly scratched the surface. To reinforce the point that we find more mineral resources as we look for them consider the situation with iron ore deposits. In the 1950’s Australia had an embargo on exporting iron ore. We thought we had about 300 million tonnes and that was insufficient for our own needs. Once the embargo was lifted, enoromous iron ore deposits were found/announnced over th next decade or two. Give man half a chance and it is amazing what he can accomplish.

Secondly, the amount of resources required for renewable energy greatly exceeds what is needed for nuclear.

So, combining these two points, I argue that nuclear is more sustainable that renewables. And I argue this is true for Gen III for however long it takes to progress to the next technology. From my perspective, arguing about the sustainability of Gen III is a trivial issue.

The most important issue we should be working on resolving is: how do we implement nuclear power in Australia so that the cost of energy is competitive with coal (externalities included)?


Douglas Wise a variety of opinions on uranium reserves have been given in the series of articles in The Oil Drum by Francois Cellier. Comments on the first article alone
canvas estimates ranging from decades to centuries for once-through uranium depending upon economic ore grades and unconventional sources. I guess the ultimate question is how much can a benevolent economy afford to pay for energy whatever the source.

A thing that troubles me is the inconsistency between declaring that certain technologies will never work on a large scale and the certain belief that modular Gen IV will arrive in time. I think we have to work with what we’ve got.


I heard Barry talk at Union Hall tonight and congratulate him on his address. I think the case for a GenIII/GenIV reactor mix was sound and clearly stated.

I would like to add one more comment on the costs and practicality of all this. The real cost of going fission’ is actually much LESS than Barry assumes. Why? Because we are up for most of that cost anyway. From an engineering point of view, power stations are large pieces of machinery that have many fast moving parts. They require maintenance and wear out. That means that, no matter what you build, sooner or later you have to replace it. Most large plants would be designed for an operating life of no more than 30-40 years; 50 at most. In fact, gen III nuclear plants may last longer than that. This advantage is poorly reflected in economics, due to discount rates making such distant benefits worth little. But taken over an industry in the long tem, it may add to a considerable capital saving.

This is true for our current coal power stations too. We should be talking about the NET cost of going nuclear, not the gross. The real cost of nuclear is less than we think. Australia has a lot of ageing power stations that will need replacing anyway in the next 10-15 years. A new 1GW nuclear plant might cost $5 billion, but a similar sized coal one will cost at least $2 billion and have higher operating cost as well. For comparison Stanwell, a modern 1.4 GW coal power plant, costs around $200 million per annum to run.



Your point is absolutely correct and is often over looked. Many of the existing coal fired power plants are due for replacement. These must be replaced with either new baseload technology. Coal is the least cost. According to Acil Tasman
Table 35, the costs for new coal would be:
$2,452/kW – Ultra super critical black coal
$2,697/kW – Ultra super critical brown coal

So, about half the cost of nuclear but with much higher operation and maintenance costs. And much higher externalities costs.

So, as you say, the cost of building ne nuclear or new coal is not as great a differences as often stated.

Gas is cheaper capital cost, but much higher operation and maintenance costs, and shorter life expectancy. Importantly, cost of electrcity from gas generation is highly susceptible to gas costs. Gas costs will rise by over the next fuew years as Australian gas prices move to world parity.


#34673 Peter Lang #34676 John Newlands

Thank you both for your replies. It seems that Peter paints a rosier picture than the Oildrum author whom John cited with respect to long term fuel availability for Gen III reactors. I did find a re-read of the Gen IV Roadmap (reference 8 in the cite) to be well worthwhile. It certainly puts SCRs ten years nearer potential deployment (2015) than four of the other five Gen IV canditates.

I am inclined to lean somewhat towards Peter’s more sanguine attitude, particularly when considering the high ERoEI of even Gen III technology and the low part that fuel contributes to the cost of nuclear electricity. I suppose some might take his view as suggesting that there is no immediate need to pursue Gen IV technology at this time of economic crisis. However, I think that, as there is no real indication that the crisis will end any time soon, this might be a mistake and would encourage opposition from those who worry (unnecessarily or not) over so-called nuclear waste.



I did not mean to imply that we should not get on with developing Gen IV. We most certainly should. All the funding we are pouring into CCS RD&D should be diverted to nuclear. As should a large proportion of the funding being spent on renewables. I would apportion our energy RD&D funds in proportion to projected return on investment. That means the bulk would be spent on working out how to implement Gen III+ in Australia at the least cost as soon as possible. We should also participate in international Gen IV research. We should set up, as soon as possible, advanced civil nuclear engineering research capability in several universities (at least one in each state and ANU.



This might be of interest if you haven’t alread seen it:

Also this which was the precursor to it.

My view of this is that it has some sound advice for policy makers but was dominated by the renewable energy advocates. I believe Ziggy Switkowski’s advice is rational and balanced but much of the renewable energy advice is optimistic to extremely so.


I’m ambivalent about nuclear power because of the nuclear proliferation issue. However for some countries I agree that it is probably essential for reducing emissions.

One suggestion I have seen which would enable Australia to play a responsible role in nuclear-based emissions reduction in other countries would be in the production of fuel since Australia is a significant source of uranium. Australia could produce fuel rods which are then ‘rented’ for use in overseas reactors and returned for reprocessing and/or ultimately disposal (perhaps a deep site could be established at Woomera). This could address some of the proliferation concerns around nuclear technology in some less stable countries.

FWIW I think you are overly negative on renewables. Solar thermal and geothermal could have a significant role to play, and despite being less developed might be easier to get off the ground in Australia than nuclear. A common mistake in these types of debates if for people to favour ‘their’ solution as the One True Answer (be that nuclear, renewables, or CCS) even it is probably going to take all of the above.


Here is an interview I did yesterday on this topic on ABC’s The Wire radio programme. It goes for 6 minutes:

Britain turns to nuclear – should Australia follow suit?

Produced by Clare Hesketh
Every country is trying to find a real solution to climate change, and this week it became clear Britain has decided to go down the nuclear path. Featured in story: Sir Hubert Wilkins professor of climate change at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, Barry Brook; and Executive Director of Beyond Zero Emissions, Matthew Wright.

[audio src="" /]


Sheery Mayo,

You are correct that we will need all of the technologies. The problem with saying tha t is that we will spend anouter 20 years playing with technologies that will get us nowhere significant while not doing anything on nuclear. That has been the outcome for the last 20 years and we are in exactly the same position again now. Twenty years later and we are still banning nuclear from consideration. And solar and geothermal are in about the same relative position anow as they were 20 years ago. Back then the researchers wer saying if government would just pour more research money into these technologies they would be commercial withing a few years. Nothing has changed in that time. So I don’t bother repeating anymore that “it will take a mix of all technologies’. There is no realistic prospect of solar, geothermal or CCS providing a significant contribution to our electricity supply in the next twenty years. The choices for providing the bulk of our power are coal, gas and nuclear. Let’s get realistic. (and yes, I do realise it will probably take around a decade to get our first nuclear power station commissioned from the time we get bipartisan support for it.


All the evidence points to new baseload capacity in Australia being gas fired for the foreseeable future
The utility companies demand not only free ETS permits and new connections but compensation to retire coal fired plant when they get around to it. Export LNG is selling under long term contract for about $400/t. By how much and how long that will affect piped gas prices is not clear. It seems likely 30c/kwh domestic electricity prices can’t be too far away when local gas shortages seriously compete with exports.

I noted on ABC Four Corners the other night former resources minister Ian MacFarlane said there will be no new coal fired plant built in Australia. However the Queensland government has given the nod to a coal fired plant if it promises to be ‘carbon capture ready’. It’s like a puppet show with Big Carbon pulling the strings. Yet I suspect Australia will strut the stage at the Copenhagen climate conference as a self appointed leader in taking tough measures.


#34732 #34738 Peter Lang

Thank you for your responses and links which I have now read.

I had appreciated already that you, yourself, were not advocating that we shouldn’t be getting on with development of Gen IV. I was merely speculating on what others might choose to interpret from your earlier comments on the relative sustainability of Gen III.

On the technical front, what bottlenecks do you foresee for rapid global Gen III deployment ? For example, while uranium- bearing ore might be plentiful, it seems that uranium mining is currently only just keeping up with demand. How quickly can it expand to meet a rapidly rising demand? Similarly, is the ability to fabricate appropriate stainless steel pressure vessels likely to be limiting?


Douglas Wise,

I should have said thank you for your comment/question that lead me to write the reply in 24732. I didn need to clarify that I was not advocatring a go slow on Gen IV.

You asked for my humble pewrsonal opinion on what are the bottlenecks for development of nuclear development world wide. I’d say the priority development should be in the countries with the highest CO2 emissions. That is the priority from a world perspective. On that basis, Australia would be way down the list. However, international politics and potential trade sanctions against us will dictate that we need to act.

Bottlenecks are:

1. lack of knowledge, skills and education facilites. Lost engineering know-how has to be re developed. This will take time.

2. Political and public perception issues.

3. Appropriate regulatory environment that facilitates low cost nuclear power.

3. Manufacturing capacity.

I see no problem whatsoever with meeting the demand for uraniium. It is a non issue. I also believe used fuel management is a trivial technical issue. It needs to be managed as part of educating the public.


It seems that the poll link on the AdelaideNow page has been flooded in a biased way by nuclear energy opponents, presumably coming from some particular web page somewhere with heavy traffic, or a poll-rigging bot.

I know for a fact this does not represent accurate polling of Australians concerning nuclear power… and it’s a shame this kind of thing goes on, and accurate polling is not available.


Luke, I think it was definitely a bot — it happened in a matter of an hour or two. Which is why, of course, one should never rely on online polls, whether you’re for or against. Here is what the poll looked like before the bot attack:

Prior to the bot attack it was: FOR = 1351 votes (79%), AGAINST 297 (17%), UNDECIDED 51 (3%)

After: FOR = 1646 votes (26%), AGAINST 4483 (72%), UNDECIDED 64 (1%)

So that’s an additional 4493 votes, which went 4186 to the AGAINST and 295 to FOR. If the % had remained as per previous and the 295 additional FOR votes were genuine, we would have expected an additional 65 AGAINST votes. So there was a 65-fold increase in the AGAINST vote.

What purpose do these people think they are serving my manipulating data like this??


Later on I would like to know the capacity factor this week for South Australia’s 800 Mw of nameplate windpower. I’ve pointed out before that SA’s power demand of 2.8 Gw in March 2007 gives us (Aust pop 22m)/(SA pop 1.1m) =20 so that a ‘national’ heatwave would give Australia a peak demand of 56 Gw.

My observation is that Adelaide’s Gen Xers are pro-nuclear. It’s Premier Rann’s cohort that is vehemently anti and they call the shots for now.


The answer to the “bot” attack lies, I believe, with ACF, FOE and Greenpeace who all have “on-line-activists” . They are notified when a new campaign or poll is being conducted. I know because I used to be asupporter until I became disgusted with their head-in-the-sand nuclear opposition.
Shows how rattled they when they stoop to whipping up mass hysteria and attempt to rig polls. Barring bi-partisan political support for the use of nuclear power, Australia needs a referendum on the subject although it may be going too early to coincide with the next election.


I’m a little unsure about the referendum.
Maybe we need to wait a little longer, with some more time for intensive education of the Australian public with regards to the real facts and science on the subject. Because if there was a referendum and the majority did say no, it would completely kill any political possibility of nuclear power.

Anyway, an off-topic request, if Barry doesn’t mind:

I was recently reading a document on the Web, and now I can’t find it again.

It was a list of specific examples of relatively recently constructed nuclear power plants, mostly Japanese, showing their good construction times, of 3 to 5 years on average in many cases.

Now I can’t find this page. Does anyone know the one I’m referring to (or anything similar on that subject) and where I can find it? Thanks!


More depressing stuff:

Here is a draft of the Copenhagen Climate Treaty by NGOs:

Click to access treaty1legal.pdf

Nuclear energy is mentioned twice (pages 33 and 35), and their intention is pretty clear:
Quote: Financial resources that support or in any way contribute to activities related to nuclear energy shall not contribute towards the fulfillment of a Party’s financial obligations.
Quote: No Technology Action Programme shall be developed for any unsustainable technology, particularly and especially nuclear energy-related technology

For more information see Ondrej’s post on the EfT forum here:


Wishes can come true, the AEMO website already had capacity info for 10/11/09

The demand in the South Australian region peaked at 2947MW at 16:30hrs, due to temperatures reaching a high of 38.6ºC in Adelaide. Wind generation in the afternoon was less than 70MW. Demand in Victoria reached 9386MW and temperatures reached 35.2ºC in Melbourne.

70 Mw actual/ 800 installed for SA is an instantaneous c.f. of about 9%. Conclusion; wind doesn’t help in heat waves.


Seems I was being a little too kind to FOE et al- I have been reliably informed that a “bot” is actually a machine generated response which is probably the only way the on-line poll could have received 4, 500 votes within an hour and switched so dramatically to a “No” vote. Now that is just DISHONEST!!
They are even more rattled by the debate on nuclear than I imagined!
Luke – I agree we need to get out more information before a referendum, which was what I meant by saying it was too early to have it at the next election. We sure don’t want a referendum to go the wrong way – like the republic question:)


Professor Brook’s omission to debate the entire nuclear cycle is curious. Uranium mining (and perhaps gold mining too) has caused more environmental desecration, more human misery and more human rights’ abuses than any other industry on the planet and the abuse continues.

A list of eminent scientists have testified globally to the risks of both open cut and ISL uranium mining and there is scant evidence to show that remediation of any ISL operation has successfully returned an aquifer to baseline conditions as revealed in the following report:

In 120 sites in 36 U.S. states and territories, the areas of radioactive contamination are enormous: more than 475 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater; 75 million cubic meters of contaminated sediments; and 3 million cubic meters of leaking buried waste.

Currently, the overarching DOE cleanup program has a budget of $220 billion of taxpayers’ money and a timeline of more than 70 years to develop and implement solutions.

Australia’s uranium mining industry has an ignominous past and present and yet again, this year, about 100 cubic metres per day of contaminated water has been leaking from a tailings dam into a World Heritage site.

There is a global epidemic of thyroid cancer. The US has the highest incidence in North America and thyroid cancer incidence in France has dramatically increased over the last two and a half decades to the extent that the French Department of Health requested the Public Health Agency to coordinate a Thyroid Cancer Committee.

Commentators claim that the present situation is due to the French government deciding in 1974, just after the first oil shock, to expand rapidly, the country’s nuclear power capacity. The only established risk factor for thyroid cancer in humans, besides age and gender, is ionizing radiation.

In August “scientists and doctors including a Nobel Prize-winner and two Australians of the year have warned of the “mind-blowing risk” of the Olympic Dam expansion…….. experts warn of arsenic, mercury and uranium which will enter undergroundwater and the atmosphere.”,1,25943922-5006301,00.html

Professor Brooks credibility is diminished by his ad hominem attacks on the “usual suspects” which also includes eminent medical and environmental experts opposed to uranium mining.


We absolutely must not have a referendum on the issue before the pro-nuclear community has had a chance to launch a mass public education campaign. Sorry it’s taking so long for my group to get its act together, but we all have lives which often interfere with the best intentions. I’m hoping we can start things on a modest scale early in the new year.


Webs and Weavers, I just had a quick look at the links you provided.

The first link is to an activist piece that hyperventilates over the fact that the operators of a uranium mines can request amendments to water quality targets during their remediation activities, and particularly cites Powertech for seeking an upward amendment for groundwater contamination to 3 mg/l uranium when the standard for drinking water is 0.03 mg/l.

I’ve become very wary of activist claims of this sort since reading this article that deconstructs recent reports of leakage from the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, which I commend to your attention as an exercise in fact checking and critical thinking:

The catastrophic effects of the Ranger Uranium Mine on local creeks

(really nice work there, uvdiv)

So I checked Powertech’s website on this issue, and found that

The water at the level of the ore zone at the mine site has a naturally high mineral content that makes it unsuitable for human use, livestock or agriculture. This water is not suitable nor currently used as a source of drinking water.

I have no knowledge of this particular development, but on the face of it, it seems likely that there was justification for requested adjustment, given that the water was already apparently poisonous, as you might expect from groundwater in the vicinity of a heavy metal ore body.

(The fact that this material had been requested by the author of the hydrology study to be removed from that website does not inspire confidence.)

I then had a look at this letter from Doctors for the Environment that you refer to. There’s no link to it from your citation (have you actually read it?) but it can be found here.

Its a shocker. There’s nothing in it. The only points I could glean from their letter were that (1) the proposed mine expansion would use a lot of water, and the diminished availability of water is a health issue; (2) there are no plans available to substantiate BHP-Billiton’s intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the mine; and (3)

“The tailing dams are a health hazard – or more strictly we have to assume that they are a health hazard until a full health risk assessment study is completed.”

In other words, they have no reason to declare a health hazard, but will assume one.

There are huge ironies in this letter. Its deeply concerned with climate change, and water loss, and their health impacts, but doesn’t recognize the mines mitigation of the root cause of these maladies. And then, it doesn’t mount any argument for direct health impacts from the mining operations. There’s just nothing in it.

I generally don’t let others do my thinking for me, even eminent scientists, and these people are eminent medical scientists. But there is no indication that they have engaged the debate beyond a very superficial level, they don’t appear to make any substantive point, but they do appear content to lend their public authority and recognition to this statement, which strikes me as intellectually dishonest, and it should be an embarrassment to them.


Webs and Weavers #34965

“Uranium mining (and perhaps gold mining too) has caused more environmental desecration, more human misery and more human rights’ abuses than any other industry on the planet”

How can you possibly say this? How can you even compare the effects of mining to the loss of biodiversity you can observe pretty much anywhere in the world? How can you compare it to the coal industry driving the shift in climate? How can you compare it to the devastating effects of the agricultural “industry” observed throughout most of the world? How can you compare it the logging industry knocking down the world’s rainforests?

Furthermore, how is uranium mining and gold mining any worse than mining for cement and steel (which are done on a far larger scale), when much more of these resources are needed for the inadequate alternatives to nuclear power (ie. present day renewables)?

And please, enlighten me as to what part of mining uranium causes “more human misery and more human rights’ abuses” than virtually any other production process anywhere in the world?


According to this latest report about predicted sea-level rise and its effect on infrastructure, five coal power stations and 3 water treatment plants will be flooded and useless. If this is so we are going to have to build new power stations and water treatment facilities anyway so why not make them nuclear/nuclear powered? As a result of this report it would be reasonable to ask Brumby why he is fixated on building Victoria’s new de-sal plant near the Powlett River in Gippsland – has he planned for the cost of a stranded asset? I don’t think so!


Various grid connected desal plants claim their energy use will be ‘offset’ by wind farms to be built later. I think they should be off-grid and use a combination of wind, solar and battery banks. That way the true cost will be more transparent. For example I’ve heard the 400 ML/day Wonthaggi desal will draw 92 Mw and will be ‘offset’ by 300 Mw of as yet unbuilt wind capacity at Collector Hills. Since that’s kinda expensive I think they will declare already built wind capacity fills that role, as if by some magical foresight. Thus guvmints will assure us that wind energy is powering these desals even when it ‘s not blowing and it is not new.

I’ll repeat my prediction that the 35 Mw and 120 ML/day reverse osmosis desal ready to be built at Whyalla for Olympic Dam will neither be approved nor denied, just delayed indefinitely.


John Morgan #34976, thanks for the brilliant response. Sometimes I’m so busy I think to myself “if only I had a clone or three”. At least here on BNC, I’ve got something just as good (or better) – intelligent and thoughtful commenters like you (and many others).


John Morgan – The link you provided, authored by “uvdiv” is irrelevant to the information I provided and is yet another “bait and switch.” “Uvdiv” has revealed his ignorance in his reference to the current mass leak at Ranger:

Hansard: Tuesday, 20 October 2009 Senate ECA 13 ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS:

Supervising Scientist, Mr Hughes:—“The situation is pretty much as I have said in the past. There will be no investigations possible into the amount of water that is sitting in the groundwater mound beneath the tailings dam while the tailings dam is there. So that will need to be undertaken after the tailings dam is removed and during the rehabilitation phase.

“As to lateral seepage from the tailings dam, the situation is pretty much as I have described it before; that is, the best way of determining the extent of that is by the use of geophysics…… I thought that it would probably be a timely thing to do to repeat that geophysical survey because it had not been done for a few years.

“ ERA have now completed another version of that geophysics. At the moment, they only have preliminary results…….. I do not know whether (the results) will remain confidential or not.”

“This water is not suitable nor currently used as a source of drinking water.” I trust you are not suggesting that groundwater hazardous plumes are motionless and always remain at the source of contamination?

“….which strikes me as intellectually dishonest, and it should be an embarrassment to them.” Your ad homs suggest that you know more than the experts who would have extensive knowledge in the matters of environmental toxicology and low level radiation exposure. Could you advise your independent sources please?

Nevertheless, I suspect that the Australian public will accept the professional advice from their most eminent doctors and scientists (including the nobel laureates) rather than the scribblings of posters such as you and me.

I trust you will also find the following research papers (authored by Australian mining expert, Gavin Mudd) of assistance?:


Webs and Weavers,

uvdiv’s article is a cautionary tale against taking at face value these scare stories about radiation leaks, and a proof by example that those making such claims will deliberately and dishonestly misrepresent their case. Its quite relevant when presented with the sort of site you linked.

I’m afraid I fail to see the point you make with your Hansard citation. Perhaps you could find a way to express your intent here more clearly? The scientist appears to be saying there is no point in measuring the mineral content of water beneath a tailings dam while there’s a dam sitting over it! Seems reasonable to me.

I trust you are not suggesting that groundwater hazardous plumes are motionless and always remain at the source of contamination?

That would depend on the local geophysics, ie. just what your scientist said.

Your ad homs ..

There’s no ad hominem there. I’ve expressed my disappointment with these people, and my criticisms of their document (have you read it?) stand or fall on their own merits.

.. suggest that you know more than the experts who would have extensive knowledge in the matters of environmental toxicology and low level radiation exposure.

Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. But these experts have not made a statement that connects the mine expansion to human health effects, which means their spectacular lede claiming “mind-blowing” health consequences is mind-blowingly vacant, and you can determine that for yourself by reading the document, and you don’t need an expert to hold your hand, just intellectual honesty.

Could you advise your independent sources please?

Stuff sources, I’ve advised you of my reasons. For someone who objects to ad hominen arguments, you’re an awfully big fan of argument from authority. Such as:

Nevertheless, I suspect that the Australian public will accept the professional advice from their most eminent doctors and scientists ..

If this were professional advice it would be open to a charge of professional negligence.

But thats another thing that bothers me. These 15 eminent scientists aren’t actually signatories to this submission. The submission has a single signatory, one Donald Shearman, Honorary Secretary of Doctors for the Environment. Doherty, Stanley, Nossal, et al. are not signatories. I haven’t been able to find any evidence for a personal endorsement of this document by the imputed signatories. These people are in fact the scientific committee of DEA. I imagine Shearman might have sought their endorsement of this tripe, but who knows how much consideration it was given (“no serious or informed consideration” appears about right). So I live in hope that people who I otherwise know to be rigorous scientists had simply had this one slip through a busy inbox.

DEA’s aims are noble, but its methods unscientific. I mean, check out their energy policy for Australia:

Renewable energy is reliable – A diversified and distributed network of energy generation can reliably meet Australia’s energy needs without the need for storage. (p9)


DEA seems to bit of a one man band – Donald Shearman seems to be doing all the heavy lifting. I see he’s an emeritus prof at the University of Adelaide – maybe Barry could get in his ear.


Barry, a clone? Good lord, I’ve still got all my hair!

Anyway, there’s so much wrong out there every now and then I just figure its my turn ..


Web and Weavers,

To put your concern about the contamination at Ranger in perspective, have you compared contamination at other mines? Is the contamination at Ranger worse than at other mines? Do you know? Or are you simply picking on Ranger because you don’t like uranium mining or nuclear energy?


“The scientist appears to be saying there is no point in measuring the mineral content of water beneath a tailings dam while there’s a dam sitting over it! Seems reasonable to me.”

I can now better understand it being “reasonable” to you John Morgan, however, a tailings dam failure is an event resulting in the tailings dam structure failing to
retain what it is designed and constructed to retain, where most regulators advise a uranium tailings dam should endure for “long term” >100 years.

Your attempt to “bait and switch” with the term “mineral” should in fact read: “radionuclides, mobilised heavy metals and chemicals” so I think I shall just move along now.

Teekay – FYI as requested. I suspect that while the debate continues to rage over the planet cooking, I will wager a bet that our life-sustaining eco-systems (or what’s left of them) will have well and truly collapsed – warming or no warming.

1. Nuclear reactors desecrating wildlife:

“In the United States in 2006, windpower killed about 7,000 birds but nuclear plants killed about 327,000.”

2. Uranium Mining – Biodiversity:

U Mining killing wildlife in India:

42-Square-Mile Federal Uranium Program Challenged: Threatens Contamination of Public Land, Wildlife Habitat, Communities, and Precious Western Water:

3. Uranium Mining – Human rights abuse of American Navajos:

Mining – Human rights abuses and environmental desecration:

Click to access barrick_report.pdf

“Or are you simply picking on Ranger because you don’t like uranium mining or nuclear energy?” Indeed not Peter Lang – any uranium mine will do.


Webs and Weavers,

You missed my point. I was attempting to ask if you are biased against uranium mining, or are you against all mining on a properly comparable basis. I expect from you comment you are simply biased against uranium. This puts your views in the catagery of ‘beliefs’ rather than being scientific. If, however, you have looeked at all mining and compared the environmental impacts and hazards on a properly comparable and fair basis, then I’d be very interested to hear and understand why you feel that Ranger, or any other uranium mine, is more environmentally damaging or hazardous than other mining.

It would also be very intersting to hear if you have studied, or have figures on, the environmental impacts and hazards of the mining and life cycle emissions for renewable enerrgy generators compared with nuclear. All comparisons on a properly comparable basis of course – for example per MWh of equivalent energy (eg baseload) produced over the life cycle.

Have you done this sort of comparison?


Insofar as mining as acknowledged as an environmental negative, uranium ore should be the first mineral of choice to be mined, as this will greatly reduce the mining needed for energy-related purposes, especially coal mining.


Webs and Weavers #35127

You pretty much avoided answering my questions at all. You’ve thrown in a few facts/figures designed to make the nuclear cycle sound bad, without making any of the comparisons I asked about.

“In the United States in 2006, windpower killed about 7,000 birds but nuclear plants killed about 327,000.” wasn’t mentioned in any of the links you supplied.

What I did find in one of the links under that quote:
“Nineteen plants on or near the California coast use 16.3 billion gallons of sea water every day.”
So we should be using fresh water instead? I don’t think so. And this differs from a solar thermal plant in which way?

Just to nit-pick (because quotes like the bird one annoy me as they’re misleading) – wind supplies less than 1% of electricity in USA, nuclear around 20%. So if you’re gonna do a proper comparision 7,000*20 = 140,000 birds if you had as much wind power as nuclear. I bet that doesn’t take into account mining processes either. Which brings me to my next point…

You supplied links as to the effects of mining on human rights and the environment, yet it seems you’re oblivious to the fact that you need something along the lines of 20 times more cement and 10 times more steel per unit of energy generated using wind power – ie. HEAPS more mining needed for renewable power sources. So by your definition, more human rights violations from the renewable sector.

Most importanly, you’ve failed to provide any evidence that indicates that uranium mining is more detrimental to human health and/or the environment than any other type of mining.


It was a list of specific examples of relatively recently constructed nuclear power plants, mostly Japanese, showing their good construction times, of 3 to 5 years on average in many cases.

Now I can’t find this page. Does anyone know the one I’m referring to (or anything similar on that subject) and where I can find it? Thanks!

It must be the IAEA PRIS database:

[IAEA] Power Reactor Information System


DV82XL, I don’t W&W is a troll, I think (s)he’s genuine, and genuinely well motivated. He just hasn’t developed an environmental consciousness beyond a very superficial ‘uranium mining is bad, lets try and stop it’, or the critical or analytical capacity to step outside of whatever activist bubble he’s in. Maybe one day the penny will drop.

Webs and Weavers,

I can now better understand it being “reasonable” to you ..

Its reasonable because any measurement of groundwater contamination directly beneath a tailings dam would be meaningless – there would be no point doing it. Surely you can see that.

.. however, a tailings dam failure is an event resulting in the tailings dam structure failing

Hang on, when did we stop talking about groundwater contamination and start talking about structural failures? Bait and switch indeed!

Your attempt to “bait and switch” with the term “mineral” should in fact read: “radionuclides, mobilised heavy metals ..

Last I checked, these are minerals. Excuse me if I don’t engage your shibboleths.

All mining operations have impacts. I don’t like them any more than you (yes, really). The point being made here by myself, TeeKay, Peter Lang and Finrod is that vastly less damage of all sorts is incurred by mining uranium for energy than by mining coal, oil or gas for energy, because vastly less mining produces vastly more energy (and carbon free energy at that) so vastly less mining is done overall.

See, we don’t like mining and want minimise it. And by expanding uranium mining a little, you reduce coal mining a lot. Whats not to like?



You don’t need to be educated in the sciences to understand the basic health and environmental impacts of the mining of uranium. In fact every relevant governing body, every cancer institute, every nuclear advisory body in the Western world has easy to read literature on the hazards of radioactive isotopes.

I regret that despite being the only poster here to provide links to assist you (yet you insist on more), you remain intellectually challenged.

Suffice to say that Radium 226 and its progeny (Radon) are Class 1 carcinogens which are the deadliest. The nuclear industry will tell you that Radon has a half-life of a mere 3.8 days but are reluctant to tell you that its parent, Radium 226, has a half-life of 1602 years. Can you figure that out? No?

However, despite the citizens of Australia saying “No!” to Mr Howard’s re-election after the release of the Switkowski report – “Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review,” the nuclear pundits have resurrected a cosmetic make-over of a “green” alternative to fossil fuels.

Unfortunately the “cash and grabs – the hit and runs,” attracted to the nuclear industry have again failed the smell test. You know the adage: “You can put lipstick on a pig but…….!”

Oddly the nuclear spin is not dissimilar to the spin of GW deniers and not surprising, has many of the same players.

According to the Switkowski report, Australia needs 25 reactors by 2050, to supply one third of the nation’s electricity, however, very few Gen. 111 (and 3+) are under construction and Gen 1V is still on the drawing board thus making a mockery of the report – in fact it’s hilarious even in the advent of Gen 11 reactors!

One needs only to remove the top layer of dirt to reveal the omnicidal objectives of those in charge of the nuclear industry – a brand new Manhattan Project!

The IAEA, in its section: “Fundamental safety principles”, advise that:

2.1.” This fundamental safety objective of protecting people — individually and collectively — and the environment has to be achieved without unduly limiting the operation of facilities or the conduct of activities that give rise to radiation risks.”

And what better way for the IAEA to practise its “radiation risks” than on depleted uranium dumped on Iraqi citizens – the new age cannon fodder! Iraqi women who have given birth to hideously deformed children – Ah……IAEA you’ve done it again!

The most recent endeavours to play dirty emerges from Australia’s “esteemed” nuclear body, ANSTO, caught out last month, corrupting the results of a poll on nuclear energy where participants lodged a resounding “NO” to nuclear:

Nuclear power may be an option, but there is a dark and staggering cost to be paid.

An educated public have already weighed all these factors (despite the suppression of FOI) before allowing government and a deceitful private industry to act on their behalf. The bottom line is: local solutions are cheaper, cleaner, and safer than global solutions.


Webs and Weavers,

You are not doing an apples with apples comparison.

You are picking out the things you don’t like with uranium and nuclear but not doing a proper comparison with the alternatives. If you do that you will find:

1. nuclear is the least-cost, low-emissions electrcity generation technology that can provide our baseload power needs – that is about 75% of our power needs;

2. nuclear is about the safest of all the electricity generation technologies when compared on a properly comparable basis

3. nuclear is about the most environmentally benign of all the elctricity generation technologies.

Did you see the two charts and comments about nuclear safety here:


Suffice to say that Radium 226 and its progeny (Radon) are Class 1 carcinogens which are the deadliest. The nuclear industry will tell you that Radon has a half-life of a mere 3.8 days but are reluctant to tell you that its parent, Radium 226, has a half-life of 1602 years. Can you figure that out? No?

Where does Ra-226 come from? What is its association to nuclear power? Is it relevant at all to a discussion of nuclear power? If so, how? Can you answer these questions, or are you merely trying to drop some technical language in order to appear to have an understanding of the relevant science and technology, when in fact you have no understanding of it at all?

Radium-226 occurs in the Earth naturally, where it is a daughter product in the decay series of uranium-238. It is not created in nuclear fission, or in any other kind of anthropogenic way by means of a nuclear reaction. Ra-226 has no application or relevance in the context of nuclear power, and it is not formed or produced by nuclear reactors.

Radium-226 has a long history of use by mankind in medicine and in other technology, from its discovery by the Curies in 1898 through to 1950 or so when a diverse range of superior radionuclides started becoming available, produced artificially using reactors and accelerators.

All that radium used in that period, for medicine, physics research, clock dials and the like, was mined, taken out of the ground where it occurs naturally.

Regarding the ANSTO poll, for all we know, it seems likely that they have been the subject of a dishonest, fraudulent and anti-democratic vote-bot attack by anti-nuclear activists, just as we’ve seen with the recent poll included with Brook’s piece in AdelaideNow.


Webs and Weavers,

Not only are you breathtakingly ignorant on the subject you are holding forth on, you seem to think the rest of us here are too.

On the subject of radon and its daughters in uranium mining, this has been well known since radon was first found as a cause of cancer in underground uranium miners in 1924. Since that time many, many studies have been performed outlining the risks of radon to miners, and to the rest of the populace. The risks were well documented, in the early years of the nuclear age. The health risk is significant, and is well-studied. There has been no attempt to hide it and almost every country with an active mining sector has regulations mandating exposure limits and regular monitoring of this hazard in all hard rock mining operations (since it is not just an issue in uranium mining) under their jurisdictions.

The underground mining of uranium and other radon-emitting ores poses challenges for ventilation engineers, mine engineers, and industrial hygiene practitioners. However improvements to ventilation practices and regulations since the beginning of the “nuclear age” have reduced exposure and radon concentration in mines, and this work continues to improve the safety of workers in this sector.

Also, this is not as large an issue in open-cast mining, and in fact greater radon production has been found in some coal pits, most notably those of the Makum coalfield in India, and is also not a huge issue in in situ leaching which is probably the future of uranium mining anyway.

As to your statement on half-life, if you had bothered to acquire even a passing knowledge of the subject, you would understand that the longer the half-life of a radioactive substance the less energy released per unit time, thus making it not as hazardous as short half-life radiators per unit mass.

The DU issue has nothing to do with the IAEA, suggesting it does does nothing to enhance your credibility. The material is not a radiological hazard, as even its most ardent detractors admit, their claim has been that the material is a toxicological problem, and even that is doubtful given the actual considerations of uranium found in the soil of these nations.

The claims of hideously deformed children is simply untrue and the horrific images that are displayed as ‘evidence’ have been shown to have been stolen from medical textbooks and other academic sources in most cases predating the use of DU munitions by several decades.

At a minimum your accusations are unfounded, and are the product of a fool. I am still under the impression you are little more than a troll with little interest in understanding these subjects, wishing only to use this thread as a soapbox for your own ignorant ravings.


“At a minimum your accusations are unfounded, and are the product of a fool. I am still under the impression you are little more than a troll with little interest in understanding these subjects, wishing only to use this thread as a soapbox for your own ignorant ravings.”

Hmmm… spoken like a real industry shill .and not a link in sight to substantiate the ad homs and if there were, they would be extracted from the obfuscations peddled by the foxes in charge of the chicken coop.

May I recommend Rosalie Bertell’s (PhD) “No Immediate Danger – Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth”? Bertell has worked as a research scientist at UNY in Buffalo, was Senior Research Scientist at Rosewell Park Memorial Institute, a consultant for the Citizen’s Advice Committee for the Three Mile Island catastrophe and has published over eighty academic papers.

She has been called as an expert witness by the US Congress in hearings for nuclear power plants before the NRC and has testified before the Select Committee on Uranium Resources in Australia and at the Sizewell Enquiry in Britain – etc etc.

I’m afraid Bertell would demolish your dribblings in five minutes flat and send you packing.

But nice try endeavouring to separate the hazards of uranium mining from the nuclear cycle and I daresay it’s an insult to the intelligence of the Australian people, which merely adds more “fuel” to their fire.

Nice try endeavouring to paint your opponents as wackos – despite the compelling scientific evidence published by qualified and reputable sources who’ve managed to elude corrupt government censorship:$=activity

.And over 170,000,000 tonnes of waste rock and low grade ore already piled high from uranium mining, polluting the environment and not a nuke reactor in sight – except the one at Lucas Heights and that broke down soon after commissioning – at considerable additional cost to the taxpayer!

Add the 170,000,000 tonnes of waste rock (mostly pulverized) from U mines to the massive stockpile in other self-regulated mining industries and we’ve got a real toxic brew – swept along by the prevailing winds, contaminating the continent and beyond:

But as I said – nice try shills – have a nice day!


Webs and Weavers,

Why do you avoid comparing looking at your figures for uranium and nuclear with the equivalent for other electrcity generation technologies?

I did pst a link in my previous link. Did you look at it?


“I did pst a link in my previous link. Did you look at it?”

Yes I did Peter Lang, however, I have a policy. I never put new shoes on dirty feet – dirty feet first need to be thoroughly cleansed and detoxed – but thank you for the link.


I was born into mining and I am the fourth generation to have had a career in mining – in both publicly listed and private companies.

Please refrain from trying to sell ice to an eskimo!


Over many years of commenting on various topics that seem to attract cranks, the two universal indications that they have exhausted what few arguments that they have is when they accuse their critics of being industry shills, and mistake someones opinion of them and there idiocy as an ad hominem argument.

Calling you a stupid ignorant fool, is not an ad hominem argument, it is at worst a personal attack. Were I to argue that your concussions were wrong BECAUSE you a stupid ignorant fool, now that would be an ad hominem argument and a fallacious argument as well.

Most of the opponents of nuclear energy are not cranks. The reasons for their opposition vary, but at the very least they can mount a consistent argument, and almost all of them are willing to concede points on fact. What distinguishes a crank like you is that they cling to their beliefs with a narrow minded zealotry that will not allow for any doubt that theirs is the only revieled truth.

For the record I do not, nor have not worked in the uranium mining or nuclear industries, or any of their supporting firms to date. Nor do I get paid by anyone to comment on nuclear matters on the net.

I have dismissed your statements with fact, if you can counter them please do so with other facts, but holding up articles from the popular press is meaningless as they are only the opinions of others.


Webs and Weavers,

It seems to me you are totally emotional about this issue. I am not getting any assurance that it is possible to have a rational debate with you. Am I misunderstanding you? I think many here would be prepared to work with facts rather than emotive material. Would you?

To try to get to the nub of the problem, could you provide a high level of the main reasons for your discomfort with nucluear energy. Something like this:

1. too costly
2. proliferation potential
3. nuclear waste
4. contamination risk leading to health conseqences
5. contamination from mine operations
6. use of fresh water for cooling
7. land area required

Would these represent the main headings of the issues that concern you with nuclear electricity generation and uranium mining?


Webs and Weavers
Thankyou for the link to the Crikey article about the ANSTO poll.
Very strange that a sudden rush of no votes appeared so quickly!
Something similar happened with the AdelaideNow poll-over 4,000 No votes in one hour. Could it be that, like the AdelaideNow poll, the ANSTO poll was subjected to a “bot” attack -computer generated program designed to vote continuously (and delete cookies) – I suspect that is the only explanation. That’s deceitful and reprehensible conduct!


May I recommend Rosalie Bertell’s (PhD) “No Immediate Danger – Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth”? Bertell has worked as a research scientist at UNY in Buffalo, was Senior Research Scientist at Rosewell Park Memorial Institute, a consultant for the Citizen’s Advice Committee for the Three Mile Island catastrophe and has published over eighty academic papers.

Rosalie Bertell… isn’t she that crazy old Canadian lady who goes on about alleged government conspiricies concerning chemicals deliberately dumped in aircraft condensation trails?



At a minimum your accusations are unfounded, and are the product of a fool.


Hmmm… spoken like a real industry shill and not a link in sight to substantiate the ad homs ..

Actually, having done a bit of research, it seems there’s quite a lot of original source material to substantiate DV82XL’s assessments, which W&W refers to as ad homs. Here’s your linkage:

and here,
and here,
and here,
and here,
and here.

DV82XL’s contention is comprehensively substantiated, with many linked citations to a reliable source.


webs & weavers………everything you are saying comes across like a cocktail of conspiracy, with a hint of doom and just a pinch of ‘good old cold war’……….hello…..we are moving on


And just a reminder of what we would have been up against in terms of scale if Australia had fallen for the stupefying swill from the ecocidal neanderthals of the past:

1. 1977 Prof. Arndt (ANU) “Australia should offer the rest of the world a part of the Gibson Desert as a dump for nuclear waste – it has a moral obligation to make that offer.”

2. 1976 Dr Sabine pushes for uranium mining and enrichment in Aust and a “nuclear garbage dump” about 1600 west of Alice Springs which would have put the dump in the middle of the iron ore rich Pilbara Region.

3. 1976 Graeme Campbell said “a nuclear dumping ground would worry me and I tremble for my children.” By 1983 and now Member for Kalgoorlie, he said he was no longer “trembling for his children.”

4. 1982. Venturini publishes his expose: “Partners in Ecocide – Australia’s Complicity in the Uranium Cartel.

5. 1983 Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Ray Finlayson) wants the Goldfields to be a nuclear dumping ground for overseas waste.

6. 1985 Kalgoorlie Miner Newspaper organize a Phone In over nuclear. Overwhelming majority said “No.”

7. 1985 Perth millionaire Bob Oliver believes we should create a huge inland sea on the Nullabor Plain, blasting a canal using nuclear explosions through from Southern Cross.

8. 1985 Perth millionaire’s vision of changing Australia’s climate by creating an inland sea on the Nullabor Plains has sadly evaporated as it was pointed out that none of the Nullabor is below sea level. hee hee!

9. 1986 Sir Ernest Titterton (UWA) said “all the nuclear waste generated in the world could be safely stored down an old mine shaft at Kalgoorlie and that Kalgoorlie should have a nuclear power plant.”

10. 1987 Graeme Campbell, now moving from left to extreme right, says Broken Hill would be an ideal site for a nuclear waste dump. “As for Chernobyl,” he said, “no more than 4 people will get additional cancers.”

11. 1988 French company Rhone Poulenc released their ERMP document which includes 7,000 tonnes a year of thorium hydroxide in 2 tonne plastic bags to be buried in trenches for at least the next 25 years in the Goldfields. Plastic eh? hee hee!

12. 1991 Health Dept of WA release EMP for the transport and storage of waste up to No. 462, to unmanned, Mt Walton hazardous waste site, east of Coolgardie. Inventory of ” LL” radioactive waste includes 2 items of plutonium.

13. 1992 NSW Land & Environment Court restrains ANSTO from bringing radioactive waste from interstate into Sydney and requiring ANSTO to remove the waste brought in from Victoria by Feb. 1995.

14. 1992 The Federal Senate passed the ANSTO Amendment Act which gives ANSTO legislative powers to store, manage and process RA waste as a commercial venture with immunity from State, Territory and Local Government laws and by-laws.

(15 – 40 omitted)

There you go old timers – clones of yesteryear and luddites of the 21st century. We’ve heard it all before.

25 nuclear reactors by 2050? And a projected 35 million people too, eh? (smile)


I hardly see how the items on this list, in its current form, is germane to the topic at hand. At any rate you have not shown my where I was wrong in our earlier exchange. To recap:

In my comment at 35330 I made three point answering your previous one.

I pointed out that radon hazards in mining were well known and have been controlled and are the subject of mining regulations all over the world. I asume this is also true in Australia. Am I to assume that Australia has no governmental mine safety authority that sets standards in these areas? I would think as a self-proclaimed fourth generation miner, you would be aware of such a body.

I also pointed out that this is not an issue limited to uranium mining, and in fact there are coal pits that are worse offenders. Are you also in favor of shutting down all mines, including collieries where there is detectable levels of radioisotopes present?

I then stated that the use of depleted uranium munitions is not under the control of IAEA, as you had contended. Do you have documented proof that states otherwise

Finally I showed that your grasp of the meaning of half-live and its relation to radioactivity are in grave error. If you do not agree can you show me scientific texts that support your interpretation

You chose to answer these statements of fact by accusing me of being an industry spokesman and not providing links. I do not link to common fact and any of these points can be verified by a simple Google search.

You also accused me of making ad hominem arguments demonstrating that you do not understand the term.

I would suggest you respond to these points before throwing a random and disjointed list at this group without clarifying why you think it is relevant.


My goodness! I just finished reading this thread and W & W is a perfect example of emotionally driven irrationality that seems to spring up with such vehemency eventually in every debate about nuclear power. On Barry’s blog, discussion is driven by pure rationality with a dedication to scientific integrity. It would seem that the anti-nuclear “industry” is animated by completely different principles that I have yet to fully comprehend, but I try to understand it. I think their worldview is a curious admixture of fear, scientific ignorance, unyielding attachment to dogmas, imperviousness to reason or facts that don’t validate their belief system, i.e. they act in a manners comparable to cultists or fudamentalist religious followers. But WHY? Why must someone find it necessary to behave in this way in general? Why in this way in connection to nuclear power in particular? A question for all amateur (and professional) psychologists out there!

Something to ponder: perhaps this aspect of human nature, the willingness to be deceived and to follow blindly a movement authority, is a useful feature being “nourished” by interests that would be hurt by nuclear competition. I have seen how well the Republican party in the U.S. has exploited the fanatic energies the Christian-far-right element by playing to their collective delusions and directing the theology in politically useful ways (Christian Dominionist theology plays very well with the global economic and military domination policies of the neocons, for example). So the irrational, pseudo-religious aspects of the anti-nuke crowd could be fed and encouraged by corporate powers that would have MUCH to fear (tallied in the TRILLIONS) from a nuclear-electric economy vanquishing the fossil fuels economy. Moreover, US power would be threatened in a world where poor countries could gain unlimited access to energy and develop without dependency on the dollar-denominated oil markets. Control of energy is POWER, and unlimited access to safe, abundant nuclear power would very much challenge that aspect of the current geopolitical order. Again there is precedent in how the corporate and neocon wings of the Republican Party have gained much by feeding those predisposed to religious fundamentalist thinking, even though low-tax, low-regulation, laissez-faire and militaristic policies HURT that constituency.

Someone benefits from stoking the fires of movement anti-nuke zealotry, which would account for its depth of presence. We should always be aware of that and ask WHO? Therein lies who we are *really* up against. One would hope, however, that near-universal recognition of peak oil and climate change will force a change in the game.


In answer to S. Foster,

In my opinion, three parasitic sub-cultures have grown around nuclear technology, both artifacts of Cold War paranoia: first is the radiation protection industry and professionals working in the field that depend on the continued acceptance of the the linear-non-threshold dose-response model, despite the fact that this model has been thoroughly discredited on multiple occasions.

Studies of atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, showed a linear relationship between cancer mortality and high doses of radiation as a result fallout hysteria became one of the themes of the times. The situation was not helped by lurid stories of several high dose incidents reported in the press. Health Physics and Genetics were supported lavishly by radiation fears, and Radiation Biology became the most intensely researched science in history. Health physicists soon learned that their livelihood depended upon scaring funds out of governments and science became irrelevant if the paymasters wanted to mislead the public about the hazards of radiation. If a particular study failed to find evidence of radiation’s ill effects, the data was simply forced into the LNT model. The evidence against the linear model and for radiation hormesis has been solid as a rock for 40 years. Yet the LNT model prevails. Why? Follow the money and the politics. The health-physics community is divided, roughly along the lines of who puts money before principles.

The second is the nonproliferation bureaucracy. It has no more of an evidentiary foundation than the above, but is similar in that a host of people depend on its assumptions for their jobs. The claim is that without constant monitoring and inspection of civil nuclear facilities and restrictive rules on international trade, most countries would chose to build and maintain a nuclear arsenal. The track record of proliferation to date, however, has been both limited and slow. The historical record does not support dire predictions, simply because those predictions were made without a clear understanding of both the economics and the military utility of nuclear weapons. The fact is that most nations nether need or want these devices, and those that do can obviously run roughshod over whatever international control exist.

The third is the antinuclear movement and its fellow travelers, that depend on a constant flow of donations from its supporters. A sort of an éminence grise has emerged as well over the past few years in the form of fossil fuel lobbyists particularly from the natural gas and coal sectors that have been overtly funding elements of this last group to smear the nuclear option at every turn and maintain its image as a dangerous and fickle technology in the public’s mind. This as part of a strategy of using their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the world that man cannot possibly change the world’s climate and that continued use of their products is mankind’s wisest course of action.

These groups are the ones that benefit from the hysteria that surrounds nuclear energy, these are the forces we are up against.


As others have noted, I think W&W has done much to help the pro-nuclear cause, despite his/her obvious desire to do the opposite. It’s such a perfect demonstration of how emotion can overwhelm rationality. Yet, I think W&W must truly believe he/she is right and therefore quoting cranks like Bertell seems justified in the greater scheme of things. Anti-nuclear activism is where Ideology trumps evidence and logic!


“At any rate you have not shown my (sic) where I was wrong in our earlier exchange. To recap:


Para 1: Environmental agencies in Australia are charged with conserving, preserving, protecting, enhancing and managing the environment and are vested with discretion to do so. The catastrophic incidents of pollution in Australia have revealed that these agencies have failed (for 40 years) to exercise their discretion appropriately.

The failure to regulate and more particularly, enforce those regulations, are of particular concern to those who are more au fait with the system than you.

The regulators have moved from a “command and control” system to one of “persuasion.” Irresponsible companies which have created these catastrophic events rarely have their operations suspended and are rarely charged.

And while the “Johnnys cum-lately” boast of their recently acquired knowledge on CO2 and remain asleep at the wheel, there are several catastrophic events this century which are of grave concern and these events will impact on the environment and human health for decades or centuries.

A parliamentary enquiry committee into a recent environmental catastrophe reported: “The Committee has identified major failings in the Department of Environment’s industry regulation function and shortcomings in other regulatory agencies.

The Committee believes that these regulatory failures combined with irresponsible and possibly the unlawful conduct of (blank), (blank) and (blank) exposed workers and the community to unacceptable and avoidable health and environmental risks. Industry regulation by the Department of Environment and Conservation is grossly inadequate.”

I shall outline the recent failures of U mine operators to protect the environment and humans at a later date.

Para 2: Old timers who continue to allude to coal mining are out of touch. Move along, move along. The very reason for this debate is to investigate ways to close down coal mining. However, Professor Brook advised that coal fired plants emit 100 – 300 times more radiation than nuclear plants. This grossly unregulated industry’s criminal activities are relevant to the contents of Para 1 and perhaps you may explain why regulators have not enforced pollution prevention control on the coal industry?

Rather they have permitted the release of RA emissions (and potentially the endocrine disruptors – organochlorines) merely to appease industry thus contaminating humans, animals and the environment. Furthermore, the coal mining industry sells its radioactive fly ash to farmers as a mix in fertiliser and as a compost at nurseries so the public can contaminate their own gardens.

Industries are permitted to leave mountains of fly ash on-site to be swept away by the prevailing winds. Perhaps this is of less concern to some because commercial food crops in Australia are now fertilised with human faeces (biosolids or sludge). And you, in your naiveté, believe the nuclear industry is competently regulated?




Para 3: The IAEA is complicit in its silence regarding the use of DU munitions and the poisoning of civilians. The IAEA states: “The IAEA is the world´s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family.

“The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies. Its role includes the non-compliance by States with their safeguards obligations as well as on matters relating to international peace and security.”

Para 4: Your profound ignorance on the decay cycle of radionuclides (and your inability to grasp the concept) is not uncommon. Radium-226 (which has a half-life of 1620 years) decays to Radon-222 which has a half-life of 3.8 days. Therefore, Radium-226 continues to generate Radon-222 during its much longer half-life.

In other words, the emissions of the shorter half-life, Radon-222, are infinite. Furthermore, while ventilation has improved in U mines for reasons of occupational safety and health, the release of Radon to ambient air continues and will increase with the myriad of U tenements soon to become operational (here and elsewhere) which reveals a total disregard for the environment, human and animal health, in pursuit of the dollar.

“You also accused me of making ad hominem arguments demonstrating that you do not understand the term.” Ah ……yes but hypocrites generally see the splinter in the eye of others whilst failing to see the plank in their own.

And what a wonderful opportunity the current global debate provides for ignorant dirty digging pro-nukes (who pretend to be “warmies”) to push their agenda whilst feigning concern for the environment!

S Foster et al: Emotion typically triumphs over reason and therefore is the more powerful. The aim of those who feign reason here is to get the sickest possible idea and prove its cogency.

There are names for zealots like yourselves who present false and deceitful illusions by wind-bagging their way through mounds of stupefying swill.

However, as a member of the delicate sex, I shall desist from describing them more accurately but please bear in mind that it has been the omnicidal “reasoning” of the “stronger” sex which has brought this planet to its knees. So much for rationale!


Here are Australia’s regulation concerning exposure from uranium mining:

5 Radiological Protection

5.1 The company must implement a system to control the radiological exposure of people and the environment arising from its mining and milling activities. The system and the dose limits applied must comply, at the minimum, with relevant Australian law taking into account the most recently published and relevant Australian standards, codes of practice, and guidelines. Subject to clause 5.3, the company must achieve the following outcomes:

(a) Radiation doses to company employees and contractors must be kept as low as reasonably achievable and must always remain less than the dose
limit for workers
(b) Radiation doses to people who are not company employees or contractors must be kept as low as reasonably achievable and must always remain less than the dose limit for members of the public.

(c) Ecosystems surrounding the Project Area must not suffer any
significant deleterious radiological impacts.

5.2 The company must comply with any dose constraints established or amended by the Supervising Authority or the Minister with the advice of the Supervising Scientist to take account of other anthropogenic radiation sources such that subject to clause 5.3, the total radiation dose received by members of the public does not exceed the applicable dose limit.

5.3 Radiation doses received from natural background sources or as the result of undergoing medical procedures are not subject to the system and are not to be included in the calculation of radiation doses.

Found here:

Click to access ranger-ers.pdf

More detail can be found here:

on monitoring of radiological hazards in the uranium mining industry in Australia.

So far you have provided nothing except your unsupported opinion of how competent these bodies are. So apparently we can conclude that there is official awareness of the radiological hazards associated with uranium mining in Australia.

So we can now judge your previous statements: “The nuclear industry will tell you that Radon has a half-life of a mere 3.8 days but are reluctant to tell you that its parent, Radium 226, has a half-life of 1602 years. Can you figure that out? No?: ” and ” Furthermore, while ventilation has improved in U mines for reasons of occupational safety and health, the release of Radon to ambient air continues and will increase with the myriad of U tenements soon to become operational (here and elsewhere) which reveals a total disregard for the environment, human and animal health, in pursuit of the dollar.” as being categorically wrong.

I said nothing about the decay series (not cycles) I only stated that implying as you did that longer half-life radioisotopes are more dangerous is in error. Half-life is not a measure of radioactivity that is particularly useful in measuring exposure to radiation from radioisotopes, in fact it is a bit of a sniff test in and of itself as to the depth of someones understanding of these matters when they try and use it as such.

“The IAEA is complicit in its silence regarding the use of DU munitions and the poisoning of civilians.” is again an opinion that you have pulled right out of your ass,

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has in fact has pledged cooperation with other organizations in response to concerns about depleted uranium. You can read about it here:

The second link to a pledge for technical support. However the decision to use this type of round in combat is up to individual nations, not the Agency.

You still obstreperously continue to use and apply the term ad hominem in error despite having been corrected.

Your statements about coal, while accurate are just not germane to the debate at had.

As for being a windbag presenting false and deceitful illusions with mounds of stupefying swill…..

And finally shame on you for playing the gender card. I suspect any women reading this pathetic attempt at implying misogamy in this exchange at this point, truly cringe-worthy.


@DV82XL: Thank you for the very interesting and illuminating response. That’s what I was looking for to understand better the anti-nuke set. From my perspective, it really does look like an *industry* dedicated to spreading fear and misinformation about nuclear power.

@W&W: I recommend “The Authoritarians” by Prof. R. Altemeyer (downloadable text), and check out If you dont’ understand the power of religious movements, the susceptibility of many to the lure of authoritarian thinking to control what people believe, you will after you read those resources. It is terrifying stuff, shockingly eye opening. When I see someone immune to evidence, immune to reason, immune to science-based arguments, I see what Prof. Altemeyer calls the “authoritarian mind” in action. To such people all that matters is to KNOW without doubt that THEIR position is RIGHT, facts to the contrary be damned. The only way to avoid becoming prey to such a way of thinking, and those who would exploit it, is to demand facts, verify, think very critically, stick to scientific reasoning and let it lead to where it may REGARDLESS of your emotional attachments or preconceived ideas.

The more I studied the science of nuclear power and radiation, the more I came to realize that all the hysteria against it is just that – hysteria, with the whiff of fact fudging, sophistry and propaganda. In the context of our global climate emergency, those selling such hysteria are engaging in a crime against the environment and a crime against future generations. We have to get serious about realistic solutions that can safely displace carbon on a HUGE scale and INCREASE the availability of energy to developing nations at the same time, and that means new nuclear power that is safe, secure and sustainable. I’m always willing to be convinced of any workable alternatives on that scale. So far, nada…


For a brief moment today I thought that Crikey was going to take a bold leap into fair consideration of Nuclear Power in “A radioactive issue for the Coalition.” by Dr Michael James of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

“Except for one other highly contentious option. Ziggy Switkowski was spruiking it again, most likely in reaction to last week’s UK government’s announcement to fast-track 10 new nuclear reactors. Add to that Malcolm Turnbull’s recent visit there, and it would come as no surprise if the Liberals were considering a commitment to revisit nuclear power. As politically risky as that might seem, it may just possibly help mollify his fracturing party with a halfway plausible energy and climate strategy. Or not.

On the other hand, as we have discussed previously an honest report on nuclear power would be not much better than the report on CCS. Many have already reacted in disbelief to the UK claim to build their planned reactors in a mere eight years compared to the 15 years it took to build the last one (begun 1981, finished 1995). For an opposition that is mired in irreconcilable differences, the nuclear option (energy policy not coalition party politics) involves mere rhetoric — a pretence at a solution with no foreseeable action until the far future. Perfect policy for denialists.”

Of course when MIchael James says “we have discussed previously” the link is to a March 2009 article by himself also on Crikey – containing gems like:

“The nuclear plants are hugely expensive to construct and hugely expensive to decommission so that private industry will only do it if the government takes up these “stranded costs”. Anyone who claims nuclear plants produce the cheapest electricity is being economical with the whole truth.”

Sorry to those who don’t get Crikey email. I’d post a link but can’t find the article on the Crikey website.


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