Nuclear energy practical option for Australia, review finds
Nov 21, 2006, 12:25 GMT
Sydney - Nuclear energy is a practical option for Australia, which has the world's largest uranium deposits, according to a review commissioned by the government that was released Tuesday, news reports said.
After a five-month investigation, nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski's review found that nuclear power could be delivered to the national grid within 10 to 15 years and deliver more than a third of the country's electricity needs with 25 plants.
The review found that modern nuclear designs were far safer than those involved in the accidents at Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the United States, and Australia had geologically suitable areas for safely storing nuclear waste.
Australia has about 30 per cent of the world's uranium deposits, and Switkowski said using them for nuclear energy could reduce the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, blamed for global warming, by 18 per cent when compared to energy production in which nuclear power is not developed.
The review said that with costs 20 to 50 per cent more expensive than conventional power, nuclear energy would only be competitive in Australia if there were a recognized cost for greenhouse-gas emissions.
In an article written for ABC News Online, Switkowski said the nuclear industry was safer than other energy-related industries and while nuclear proliferation was an issue of concern to the public, greater Australian involvement in the nuclear-fuel cycle would not change those risks.
'It is clandestine activity that is likely to lead to the production of nuclear weapons, not civil nuclear activities,' he said.
Kim Beazley, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party, rejected any push for domestic uranium processing, telling reporters that Australia's future lay in renewable energy and clean coal technology.
'There is absolutely no strategic nor economic argument for enriching uranium,' he said.
'That is one of the few things on which I can say in recent times I've absolutely agreed with George Bush,' Beazley said, referring to the conservative US president. 'There should be no new uranium-enrichment facilities anywhere.'© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur