Nuclear Policy

SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission – update

SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission – update

Today the Expert Advisory Committee of the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle was announced. The members include Dr Tim Stone (University College London, KPMG), Prof Ian Lowe (my co-author Why vs Why: Nuclear Power), Dr Leanna Read (Chief Scientist of SA), Mr John Carlson (formerly of ASNO), and me (Barry Brook). I look forward to engaging in a productive, evidence-based process with my colleagues.

The first Issues Papers has also been released today Exploration, Extraction and Milling. Further papers will be released in the coming weeks, and then there will be 90 days open for submissions. The RC will report to the SA Government within just over a year: by May 2016.


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.

34 replies on “SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission – update”

Congratulations, Barry.

I look forward to this Royal Commission very much, in anticipation that all submissions that are not fully justified by evidence will be set aside.

That will be an historical first for the Australian energy debate.

Is there a public explanation as to what standard of evidence is required?


Good to hear, Barry! Some real talent there, and the opportunity to show up nonsense.
Also congrats on Ecomodernist Manifesto – a real breath of fresh air!


Yes, I can sleep a little easier knowing you are on the committee.

But I’m wondering why I bothered registering on the Royal Commision website to be kept informed and then hearing nothing at all! I rang them and they assured me I was registered, but I’ve got nothing. Zip. Lucky I’m still getting BNC information :)


Looks like a balanced panel, Barry, with some good choices except for Ian Lowe who is a prominent anti-nuclear opponent. I hope it’s not like the Security Council where some members have a veto. My expectations have always been low for a positive outcome for this Royal Commission, although I respect former Governor Kevin Scarce for his integrity and nous. I have made a submission and await the outcome with interest. Best wishes for your discussions!


Congratulations Professor! Your long-practiced communication skills, patience and energy numeracy will be invaluable to this process.

I suspect Lowe’s standard schtick (anti-nuclear anecdote, laugh track, no further investigation of the issue, next objection – as highlighted by Michael Angwin all those years ago) won’t serve so well in the coming months.


Congratulations Barry. This is good news. No matter what the the final outcome, the process will be enlightening for Australia. The more publicity the better.

My interest, as always, will be in the economics..


I add my own congratulations Barry your appointment to the panel is well deserved as your comments and conclusions are always backed by evidence and data. Dr Tim Stone is an interesting choice but appears to have considerable experience in the development of sustainable energy policy, see this Sacome presention.


Let’s not make Prof Lowe the enemy here.

Reason, science and comprehension is hard to come by in anti-nuclear circles, but I think Ian Lowe is different. Wrong, but different.

Ian offers a flexibility on new evidence, and a calm disposition. If he didn’t have ties with backward organisations, he’d have the freedom and intelligence to change his mind.

In any case, I congratulate Tim, Ian, Leanna, John and Barry on their membership of the Commitee and I wish each of them the best of luck on a difficult job.

Best, Paul


Yes and my best wishes also. If we take a serious look at the life cycle Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of the renewable energy options quite a few being promoted are simply not viable.


@Duffer70, welcome back. — ASNO polices the rules set by policy, whereas ANSTO does the science. If only ANSTO were to set the guidelines, and ASNO were to police science-based rules !


Yes, a good one Barry. But Lowe should NOT be on the panel. When I asked him at the Nuclear for Australia symposium in Sydney in 2013, why 17 additional countries were at that stage building nuclear reactors, the best he could do was to reply that 150 other countries weren’t building them. The fact that those countries wanted a base load supply of electricity without greenhouse emissions seemed to have slipped his mind. Rather careless in my view, especially from an Emeritus professor. Definitely a poor choice for the panel.


@PaulM: Ian has the freedom to change his mind any time. Personally I lost my considerable respect for him when he compared 1GW of rooftop PV with a large nuclear power station in a Punch article some years back. I can forgive journalists who make such an error out of ignorance, but he knew exactly what he was doing.


Exactly, Geoff. No, he’s not the enemy (thinking in those terms will do more harm than good) but along with reconsidering the science he should reconsider such willingness to exploit the general publics lack of understanding of technology differences.

Advocating for nuclear goes hand in hand with advocating for energy numeracy.

Besides, if every GW of nuclear had the same legislated grid priority as every GW of solar when generating, we’d be seeing considerably swifter climate action.


I hope Luke Weston won’t mind me reposting his comment to the Nukes fb page here, because I think his take on the issue of Lowe’s membership is exactly right: “Things will get really interesting… Ian Lowe can’t just say things in this theatre without providing credible evidence to back them up, and the rest of the panel certainly will expect a sensible standard of evidence to be provided.”


I think Bjorn Lomborg should have got a seat as well. I mean if you blind yourself to the dangers of climate change as be does then you can easily do the same with nuclear.

I deal person for the job. I hear Anthony Watts is in favour of nuclear as well – perhaps he can be a consultant …..
Ender/Gloor what exactly is your point? Barry and his fellow panel members were chosen by Scarce and they include both pro and anti nuke supporters including Ian Lowe who co- wrote “Nuclear Power: why versus why?” You are trolling. Please stop!


@ender: What dangers? There’s been about 14 million cancers in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in the years since Chernobyl. We know the cause of most of these, it isn’t radiation, but some people blind themselves to the big causes of cancer while working themselves into a lather about radiation. Never in the field of human endeavour have so many been so worried by so little.


Sure – have a chat to the people around Fukishima and see how you go with that line …..

Sorry will not troll this thread anymore. Just the thought of Barry endorsing ANYTHING a unscientific denier like Lomberg says or does turns my stomach.

An enemy of my enemy is not my friend …..

Lomborg is not on the SARC panel and Barry does not endorse Lomborg.


To solve the climate change problem caused by CO2 emissions, the successful transition to non carbon energy sources must be made using scientific data and evidence to drive the decision making not beliefs and gossip.

For example the role of the Tokyo United Nations University is to generate new knowledge, educate, enhance individual and institutional capacities, and disseminate useful information to relevant audiences.

This is a United Nations University education video with useful information about Fukushima.

It features Professor Gerry Thomas of the Imperial College, London who was a member of the UNSCEAR committee on the Health effects of the Chernobyl accident and makes the following comments about Fukushima.

At 0:21 the short term harmful health effects at Fukushima are due to radioactive iodine but because of its very short half-life, it has all decayed from the environment within three months.

At 0:45 there are no long term harmful health effects from radiation at Fukushima as the studies from Chernobyl show that radioactive caesium which has a longer half-life does not concentrate in the human body. People living at Chernobyl who returned to their homes and refused to leave accumulated the equivalent of one CT scan of radiation over 25 years.

At 2:10 Professor Thomas exposure to radiation was higher from the airplane flight from London to Tokyo than it was when she visited the Fukushima nuclear plant site.


Good stuff, Barry. Australia is possibly the most suitable country in the world to have NP.

BTW, I enjoyed and support your article in TC:

An ecomodernist’s manifesto: save wildlife by embracing new tech

but being banned there I couldn’t comment. I do think, though, if you lived on acreage in any other state than Tas, [no foxes or dingoes] you would notice that on the mainland these ferals are doing more damage to wildlife than people are.

Sorry to be O/T and good luck with the RC.


Thanks Barry. Have read the issues paper on waste etc. You and I know Barry that SA has the world’s best high level nuclear waste site in our western desert region [Officer Basin] which I’ve been telling everybody,including South Australian Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd about for the last twelve years. When Kevin Scarce reports to the government May 2016, I hope he recommends SA offer the Officer basin waste site as the first step in our development of the full nuclear fuel cycle in SA. At 77 years of age and following 17 years non stop promotion of nuclear for Australia, it’s time we woke up and started to do something about dragging SA off the bottom of the economic pile. And Barry, don’t take any crap form Lowe on the panel.




[…] Heard skizziert zusammen mit Professor Barry Brook von der University of Tasmania  die Herausforderungen und Möglichkeiten im Beitrag “Royal commission into nuclear will open a world of possibilities”. Brook setzt sich seit Jahren für Kernenergie ein, speziell für den Integral Fast Reactor (IFR, siehe unten). Im April wurde Brook in das fünfköpfige Expertenteam der Royal Commission berufen. […]


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