Nuclear debate far from over
OPPONENTS of nuclear power might well feel they can afford to put their feet up following the devastation and radioactive fallout crisis gripping Japan.
That f eel i ng probably grew stronger on Tuesday after the small quake – a mere 4 on the scale of rating the colossal forces beneath our feet – that made a bit of noise and caused a few ripples in teacups up Flying Fish Point way.
One strong argument by those who see nuclear energy as a solution in the climate debate has been Australia’s geological stability. We mine uranium here, they say, and because we don’t suffer too many t r e mors wor t h n o t i n g , there is little if any risk of the sort of natural disaster that is causing so much grief in Japan.
Well, that argument puts what happened to Newcastle in 1989 – 13 people were killed – to one side and also ignores the fact ours is a nation of flood and drought, with little in between.
Add to that the fact that in the North there are cyclones every summer that would tear the cladding from any reactor vessel, and you start to wonder just how safe nuclear energy can ever be.
Despite this, what are the odds that even though the PM is adamant Australia won’t go down the nuclear p a t h a nd e v e n t hough pollies of all colours say now is not the time to have that sort of debate, it will be trotted out in time?
The catalyst will remain climate change and the impact of coal as an energy source.
Assuming Japan were to say ‘‘ that’s it, we’re scrapping our nuclear energy program’’, it’s likely coal would be the choice for filling the 30 per cent void in energy requirements – and we all know where a lot of that is mined.
If solar power and wind energy are viable alternatives, especially in Australia as Julia Gillard so optimistically s uggests, why haven’t we developed them? Have fun thinking about this while you await the debate.