North’s water ideal for nuclear power
THE State’s Water Minister says the North’s ample water supply had made the region a target for establishing a nuclear power plant.
Water Minister Craig Wallace yesterday released to the Townsville Bulletin extracts from a State Government report which examined the effects of nuclear power.
Mr Wallace said areas in T o w n s v i l l e a n d Collinsville were possible sites for nuclear power stations because of the close proximity to fresh water supplies and power transmission lines.
‘‘The only way that nuclear power will come to Queensland will be where there is ample fresh water and the only supply is the Burdekin Dam,’’ Mr Wallace said.
‘‘We know that they can’t use the water from the Great Barrier Reef because it will cook the reef and therefore they need fresh water.’’
Mr Wallace said nuclear power stations required massive amounts of cooling water to condense and recycle steam.
‘‘If a power station was to be built at Collinsville, it would require at least 25,000ML of fresh — not recycled — water every year,’’ he said.
‘‘I was advised this volume of water could only be supplied by building a new dam o r we i r o n t h e Bowen/Broken (catchment) system.
‘‘A nuclear power station at Ross could technically source its water from the Ross River Dam with water diverted from the Burdekin Dam through the existing pipeline.’’
Mr Wallace said the study showed a nuclear power station would use 25 per cent more water than a coal-fired plant, making nuclear power ‘unworka b l e i n t h e c u r r e n t drought’.
In November this year, former Telstra chief Dr Ziggy Switkowski headed a study into the viability of possible nuclear energy in Australia.
The report concluded 25 nuclear reactors could produce a third of Australia’s electricity by 2050.
But if Australia moved quickly, it could have a new nuclear power plant in action in 10 years, but a more likely timeframe would be 15 years.
But Mr Wallace said nuclear power was not welcome in Queensland.
He said the State’s report into nuclear power showed adverse effects on water quality.
‘‘My advice was that water quality impacts could include thermal pollution and increased amounts of total dissolved solids of waste cooling water,’’ he said.
‘‘The main water quality impact would be the increased temperature of water that is discharged to the environment.
‘‘If the cooling water is evaporated and recycled, you have the problem of waste water being high in dissolved chemicals and metals.
‘‘Discharge of such water would most certainly negatively impact on the environment, even hundreds of kilometres downstream.’’
Mr Wallace said the report stated in the shortterm, waste would be stored on site in a special pool, but long-term or permanent waste disposal was not mentioned.
‘‘As well as facing costs of identifying potential waste disposal sites, we’d also face a hefty bill — not to mention the risks — in transporting nuclear waste on public infrastructure, most likely over long distances to suitable remote locations,’’ he said.
Dr Switkowski said in November it would take several decades to build up Australia’s nuclear power infrastructure to have systems running at maximum efficiency around the country.
After the national report was released, the State Government introduced legislation to ban nuclear power in Queensland earlier this year.
However, the Federal Government can override the legislation.