Howard’s fission expedition
Wednesday February 21st 2007, 7:38 am

do you see what Johnny sees?Johnny-come-lately Howard has quietened his skepticism of global warming but considers the best solution for Australia’s carbon emissions to be nuclear power stations. The NIMBY factor in locating a nuclear facility in Australia is impossibly huge, as I would expect it to be anywhere else, but since Australia has only one reactor, claimed to be used for for making radiomedical isotopes, resistance to any more nuke plants will be staunch.

Construction of a nuclear power plant in Australia would be impeded by decades of rabid protest and interference from those living in the proposed nuke site areas. Planning for a nuke plant would come to a sudden halt as soon as the proposed location was announced.

As per usual with our shrewd Prime Miniature, there’s more to his arguments than what’s on the face of them. Howard knows full well that it’s not ever going to be politically possible to build nuke plants in Australia. So what’s he really after? I’d put a wager on Howard’s actual aim being broadening of uranium mining and increasing yellowcake exports, establishment of uranium enrichment facilities and perhaps even acceptance from client states of spent fuel for reprocessing or disposal.

Bob Brown’s suggestion to stop exporting coal from Australia is an idea slightly ahead of its time. World demand for coal will disappear all by itself when carbon trading schemes are adopted globally. When the polluter has to pay for the right to pollute, corporate money will flow like a tsunami into alternative energy generation research and development. Brown might have been wiser to work on better funding of alternative energy R&D rather than suggesting closing down one of Australia’s biggest and oldest cash-cows.

Of course, Howard will ‘suddenly’ find that Australians will not accept nuke power stations. He will pretend to be somewhat dissatisfied when he gets what he really wants- just a tiny bit more uranium mining and a tick of uranium enrichment… which should please his mates in the mining industry to no end.

I’m a little tired of the Howard red-herring diet plan, how about you?


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Just one point, the Lucas Heights reactor really is just for making isotopes and whatnot these days.

It’s too small to be of any use for making nuclear weapons material.

Historically, there was some research done by ANSTO that would have allowed us to make nuclear weapons if we wanted to – essentially, we did what Iran is trying to do, on a proof-of-concept scale, more than 30 years ago – but that didn’t actually rely on having a reactor.

Comment by Robert Merkel 02.21.07 @ 1:41 pm

Robert, I don’t have any doubt that Lucas Heights is used for making radiomedical materials and I’m sorry if my phrasing left you with an impression that I believed otherwise.

In fact, I lived in Sutherland Shire, 2.13km away from Luca Heights (per Google Earth) in the late 1990s- and never worried too much about it. Then again, I didn’t own a Geiger counter, either. 😉

I was a whole lot more worried about the ~20 years I spent in Indianapolis, downwind of a VX nerve gas stockpile and decommissioning site located in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Being that I’ve only lived in Aus since 1996, I can’t imagine Australia ever having nuclear ambitions, but the 1950s-1980s was a very different time with a decidedly pre-Chernobyl outlook on nuclear power.

I recall soap powders brand named ‘Atomic’ and cinnamon candies called ‘Atomic Fire Balls,’ the latter of which I actually think are still made under that name, despite most other advertising and positive cultural references to nukes having fallen by the wayside.

Australia is ideally placed to exploit a number of different solar technologies from photovoltaic (which admittedly is still in infancy) to solar concentrator/steam turbine power generation systems.

In the meantime, Australia could go a long way to reducing greenhouse emissions by using our vast natural gas reserves for electric power generation and also encouraging use of CNG powered vehicles. Found an interesting home CNG compressor here called ‘Phill.’ Refills automobile CNG tanks overnight from existing natural gas mains.

Comment by weez 02.21.07 @ 5:34 pm

Bob Brown copped a lot of stick for his proposal on coal but I suspect it would have gone over well with his constituency. Greens kind of rely on being “ahead of their time”.

I wonder too, how much he might have been driven by frustration at the lack of any action at all on carbon emissions. Nuc, clean coal and geosequestration all seem like eternal talkfest material. Brown has consistently banged on about alt energy support just to watch much of the industry pack up and go where they are not treated like morons.

The climate situation may be a lot more urgent than many are aware and drastic solutions should at least be floated, even if they are dismissed as scaremongering by those who want to drag their feet.

Agreed, the li’l fella is up to sneaky shit for nuc industry. Hope he continues to implode and never gets near the stufff.

Comment by joe2 02.21.07 @ 6:02 pm

joe2 said: Greens kind of rely on being ahead of their time.

Yeah, but this is politics. Saying what you really mean is a quick way to a short career.

Comment by weez 02.22.07 @ 7:00 am

mgk was linked from Crikey yesterday. Been a lonnnnng time since they’ve linked mgk.

Wonder if my not-so-idle threat to send back the spiffo Crikey socks I got with my 2-year paid subscription if Christian Kerr didn’t lay off his moronic comparisons of the Greens to the Exclusive Brethren had anything to do with the long time between drinks.

Nah. Crikey wouldn’t be like that!

For the record, I would have washed the socks before posting them back. 😉

Comment by weez 02.22.07 @ 12:33 pm

Weez,’career’ and ‘green politics’ are mutually exclusive. Masochism and the latter is a better fix.

Of Christian Kerr and the Green bash… he was just joining in on an age old Aussie sport. Those poor E.B’s are just good ol’ god fearing folk. Someone has taken the time to document more of their fine works here…. via Bilegrip.

Comment by joe2 02.22.07 @ 7:27 pm

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