“This Royal Commission will be hearing evidence in a vacuum: the draft terms forbid it from considering any aspects of the industry we are familiar with (mining), and insist it consider aspects of the hypothetical future next generation reactors, which are so wonderful that no-one is building them commercially.”, said Roman Orszanski, Climate & Energy campaigner for Adelaide Friends of the Earth.
Author Archive: roman
Chris Goodall suggests in the ecologist website that the UK might use solar thermal to provide baseload power…
… Read more >>
Despite its high capital cost, attention is increasingly directed towards ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ (CSP), a technology that uses focused light to heat a liquid that turns to steam and drives generators.
FoE Australia’s very own Jim Green looked at the possibilities for the new generation of nuclear power reactors (since the current crop are unlikely to impress anyone), and found the kinds being spruiked by pro nuke advocates in SA have a few problems.
Integral Fast Reactors … it gets ugly moving from blueprint to backyard
Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) are a case in point. According to the lobbyists they are ready to roll, will be cheap to build and operate, couldn’t be used to feed WMD proliferation, etc. The US and UK governments have been analysing the potential of IFRs.
The UK government found that:
- the facilities have not been industrially demonstrated;
- waste disposal issues remain unresolved and could be further complicated if it is deemed necessary to remove sodium from spent fuel to facilitate disposal; and
- little could be ascertained about cost since General Electric Hitachi refuses to release estimates of capital and operating costs, saying they are “commercially sensitive”.
The US government has also considered the use of IFRs (which it calls Advanced Disposition Reactors – ADR) to manage US plutonium stockpiles and concluded that:
- the ADR approach would be more than twice as expensive as all the other options under consideration;
- it would take 18 years to construct an ADR and associated facilities; and
- the ADR option is associated with “significant technical risk”.
Unsurprisingly, the IFR rhetoric doesn’t match the sober assessments of the UK and US governments. As nuclear engineer Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned
Scientists puts it: “The IFR looks good on paper. So good, in fact, that we should leave it on paper. For it only gets ugly in moving from blueprint to backyard.”
Small Modular Reactors … no-one actually wants to buy one
In any case, IFRs are yesterday’s news.… Read more >>
“If the Royal Commission brings a genuine spirit of independence and rigour, and is willing to take evidence on the nuclear sector’s performance in Australia and overseas, the report will provide a valuable contribution to domestic energy and industry policy.
It will paint a picture of an industry in terminal decline; a uranium market in a state of chronic oversupply; 60 years of high-level nuclear waste still awaiting a coherent management solution; ongoing contamination hazards at destroyed reactor sites; unresolved weapons proliferation risks from ‘civilian’ enrichment facilities in Iran; a stalled disarmament agenda and a handful of countries persevering with new plants plagued by cost overruns and safety fears.”
Chinese imported frozen berries linked to a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW has led to a national call for stronger food safety regulation and country of origin labelling.
However under the new China Free Trade Agreement and pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), this could be unfeasible. Friends of the Earth’s Fair Trade spokesperson, Sam Castro said “like other similar trade agreements the TPP could make it impossible to set higher standards on imported foods or labelling, because labelling regulation can be deemed a ‘barrier to trade’.”
“The Investor State Dispute Settlement process included in the China Free Trade Agreement enables foreign corporations with the ability to sue the government for legislation that may harm future profits. We know Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian government for our cigarette plain packaging legislation, the same could happen if the government decides to enact stronger food safety and labelling laws,” explained Ms Castro.
“These trade agreements are a Trojan Horse that threaten our food safety and environment. Trade officials, whose primary objective is to increase trade and boost corporate profits, will have first say over future food safety rules. A trade agreement is not the place to decide about our food safety.”
“The TPP trade agreement is currently being negotiated in secret with 12 other countries, including the US, Chile and Malaysia. We call on the federal government to release the text of the agreement so the public and health professionals can properly assess the impact it will have on health and safety standards. We have a right to know” said Ms Castro.
The European Union has recently committed to publicly releasing the text of a similar trade agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).Read Friends of the Earth’s analysis of the TTIP’s impact on Food Safety.… Read more >>