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Article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

We must move to nuclear fuel: PM



By Mark Metherell and Wendy Frew
May 20, 2006

NUCLEAR power is inevitable in Australia and could come sooner than expected, according to the Prime Minister.

In comments that lift the tempo on the contentious issue, John Howard said nuclear power in this country "could be closer than some people would have thought a short while ago". His Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, claimed it could be as early as 2020.

"I think it is inevitable. The time at which it will come should be governed by economic considerations," Mr Howard told Melbourne radio from Ottawa.

Just four days previously while in Washington, he struck a more cautious line, saying he had "a completely open mind to that … It may be desirable that Australia in the future builds nuclear power plants."

Yesterday, he said: "The whole atmosphere in Washington, the atmosphere … created by the high level of oil prices is transforming the debate on energy, alternative energy sources."

Mr Howard's announcement risks alienating many voters but it appears to reflect changing attitudes. A poll commissioned by SBS last September showed 47 per cent of people supported nuclear power and 40 per cent opposed it. However, the policy switch has angered environmentalists and prompted a pledge from Labor to remain anti-nuclear.

Mr Macfarlane said yesterday he expected the Government would soon start discussions on how to encourage grassroots debate on the issue.

Nuclear power costs twice as much as coal power, and earlier this week the Treasurer, Peter Costello, said it was not economically right for Australia now, "because we have such proven resources of gas and coal".

But Mr Howard said the Government's white paper on energy 18 months ago was based on oil price assumptions that were now out of date.

He said the environmental advantages of nuclear power "are there for all to see. It is cleaner and greener and therefore some of the people who in the past have opposed it should support it."

The Opposition's environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, said Labor opposed nuclear power on cost, safety, waste and proliferation grounds. "Labor will not change that view. I look forward to Labor ending John Howard's nuclear fantasy."

According to energy experts, Australia could not develop a nuclear power industry in time to stave off the effects of climate change, and such a program would be prohibitively expensive.

Academics at NSW University and the University of Technology Sydney said no private investor would take on the risk without huge government subsidies.

Scientists have warned that the world needs to make large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid further climate changes. But even if there was a doubling of global nuclear energy output by 2050, it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent, said Greenpeace Australia Pacific's chief executive, Steve Shallhorn.

The NSW Greens MLC Ian Cohen said that after 50 years, the nuclear industry still had not found a way to store its waste safely. "We don't want it back and we don't want to create it here."
 

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Well just stick a bunch of reactors in the bits of Australia that are not inhabited, and presto problem solved. :D
 

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skyscraper connoisseur
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Can we stick one up at Londonderry? I mean, it's isolated, nobody cares and it is close to water source.
 

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Champagne Socialist
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Cheap nuclear solution, little innovation on our own behalf, much worse longer-term problems (waste storage).

or

Utilising the big brown land & creating innovative energy solutions by more environmentally friendly methods, starting afresh and exporting them to help with current account deficit?

Oil & Gas is a massive export earner, but why stop there, why not create something else to export?

christ, do something before I become a greens voter! :lol:

$0.02
 

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Thorium Reactors.

Has anyone heard of using thorium fuelled reactors instead of uranium or plutonium ones? There was an article about this in the most recent edition (issue 8) of "Cosmos", an Australian science magazine --> see http://www.cosmosmagazine.com.

Thorium (symbol Th, atomic number 90) is a heavy chemical element two places before uranium (U, 92) and four places before plutonium (Pu, 94) on the periodic table. Unlike uranium or plutonium, thorium is a subcritical element, meaning that no matter how large a mass of it is put in one place, it cannot by itself initiate or sustain a nuclear chain reaction (fission, not fusion). To do so requires something external, like a beam of protons fired into the thorium fuel, as proposed in one possible design for a thorium reactor. According to the article, a meltdown would be impossible with this design, because if the beam is turned off the chain reaction would slow down and come to a stop. Another possibility is to combine thorium with U and/or Pu (which can be done in existing reactors), where these heavier elements provide the excess neutrons to either initiate or sustain the reaction (sorry, I don't remember all the details of the article). Apparently, in the reaction process the U and/or Pu is actually converted into thorium, thereby giving us another means of dealing with hazardous nuclear waste, including warheads from dismantled nuclear weapons. Compared to U and Pu, the wastes of which remain radioactive for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, thorium is less radioactive to begin with and its' reaction leaves less waste behind which only takes about 500 years to decay to a safe state, posing fewer storage problems.

The thorium reactor is still experimental, with no commercial ones in operation anywhere, despite a number of countries having worked on it in recent decades.

Thorium is significantly more plentiful in the earth's crust than uranium is, so it could be a better long-term fuel source for the nuclear power industry. As with uranium, Australia has the world's largest reserves, around 30 to 40 percent of the total, meaning we could cash in big time if this technology takes off. India has the world's second largest reserves, which is why that country is planning to use thorium reactors to generate much of its' electricity in decades to come, assuming it can be scaled up to commercially viable standards.

If the hurdles can be overcome, thorium has the potential to provide abundant electricity for a long time to come, at less risk compared to current nuclear technology. It can render existing nuclear waste less hazardous, and cannot be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

This is just a brief rundown of what's in the article, and I've probably forgotten some details, as I don't have the magazine with me right now. For those who want to fill themselves in, indeed for anyone with an interest in nuclear power, I highly recommend reading it.

P.S. To read the article you need the magazine, as it's not on the website, at least not yet. :)
 

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only 500 years eh? that's like nothing in Earth's lifetime, we have buildings that are older than 500 years and still standing pretty good.
 

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AtD said:
Coming soon to Woomera?
Maybe we can take the whole world hostage by drilling a hole in the centre of the Earth (inner core) and stick nuclear bombs inside. Bribe the world to send up trillians of dollars and all resources we need or else we blow up the planet into mini-pizza sized pieces.

I wonder if it is Pine Gap. :D
 

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tayser said:
do something before I become a greens voter!
Now don't go doing something stupid!


I have no problem with Australia using nuclear energy. The reactors could be established in remote South Australia or Western Australia and exported around the nation. If it means Victoria stops burning inefficient brown coal, I am all for it.
 

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There was this article in time mag last year and there is some research going on in Northern QLD that they can drill a big whole in the ground then pump water down to what are called "hot rocks" then that creates steam then the steam turns the turbines...that would be very environmentally friendly... no wastes, no carbon dioxide...
 

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Яandwicked
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The Olderfleet said:
Now don't go doing something stupid!


The reactors could be established in remote South Australia or Western Australia
No they couldn't. Energy losses occur over increasing distance. It would be uneconomical to place them that far from the cities.

Port Augusta is probably the remotest you could get while still having access to a)uranium, b) abundant water, and c) the existing grid.
 

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lol


Boat crashes near PM's home
From: AAP
May 22, 2006

On the rocks ... The boat was left high and dry today / AAP A MAN who ran his boat on to rocks just metres from the Sydney residences of the Prime Minister and Governor-General has been charged with drink driving.

Sydney Water Police said they found a motor cruiser aground on rocks at Kirribilli Point with a man, woman and three children on board about 7pm (AEST) yesterday.
Police had to obtain the permission of the Australian Protective Services to access the boat as it was near Admiralty House and Kirribilli House.

The two properties are the respective Sydney residences of Governor-General Michael Jeffery and Prime Minister John Howard.

"It was not far away (from Kirribilli House), it was on Kirribilli Point, so it was very close," a police spokeswoman said.

Police allege the man had been driving the boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.095.


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He was charged with mid-range drink driving and negligent navigation.
A woman also was arrested after an alleged altercation with police and Protective Service Authorities but was later released without charge.

There is no suggestion the boat was directed deliberately towards the two residences, police said.

The man will appear in North Sydney Local Court on June 13.
 

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Jean Luc said:
Who are you going to bomb?
I can think of one particular place I'd bomb tomorrow but perhaps not with a nuke as it's in Australia - I would like the complex levelled though.

Haha I would bomb anyone that stands in my way, including the rude auto electricians I had the pleasure of dealing with on Friday - I don't think they will have their trading licence for much longer, I have a few calls to make.

Anyway there are better weaopns availble than nuclear and they don't leave years of radioactive decay.
 

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Avatar said:
LOL what does this have to do with nuclear energy?
Kirribilli House is actually an underground nuclear launch pad. The house opens up and the nuke will fly like a bird.

It acts as a guard dog to Sydney Opera House. Any person who attempts to bomb Sydney Opera House watch out!
 

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Avatar said:
Anyway there are better weaopns availble than nuclear and they don't leave years of radioactive decay.
I'm intrigued. What are these weapons?
 
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