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Byron Shire
August 9, 2022

Nationals’ push for nuclear power on north coast ‘is madness’

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[Updated Friday, 6.40pm]

The NSW Nationals have ruled out plans for building a nuclear power station on the north coast in the face of mounting pressure to do so ‘once and for all’.

Labor candidate for the seat of Ballina, Asren Pugh, made the call in the wake of the recent attendance at a US nuclear industry conference by NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.

But Mr Barilaro’s spokesman told Echonetdaily there were ‘absolutely’ no plans for such plants on the north coast nor nuclear energy ‘anywhere in NSW’.

However, the spokesman said Mr Barilaro’s views ‘are not representative of the party’s position or the NSW governments’.

‘Nuclear energy is banned under federal law,’ the spokesman said.

On Tuesday during a radio interview, Mr Barilaro said that premier Berejiklian was “open minded” to nuclear power in NSW.

But the deputy premier’s spokesman said the Nationals did not support the idea of nuclear power in NSW, and that Mr Barilaro was ‘expressing his personal views, in the interests of sparking a conversation about the prospects and environmental benefits of nuclear energy’.

Mr Pugh said Mr Barilaro not only participated in the US conference but was a key speaker, billed as one of the ‘Biggest Names in Nuclear’.
He said that since returning to Australia from the International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summi, in Atlanta, Mr Barilaro ‘has been spruiking nuclear power right across NSW, claiming that it could be a reality within 10 years’.
‘When the Nationals leader started this madness, most people thought it was just an April Fools joke, but this is now getting serious,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘There are no circumstances in which our community on the North Coast want nuclear power here.
‘Nuclear power is unsafe, dangerous and leaves a legacy of toxic waste to our children and our children’s children.
‘Our community doesn’t want a discussion about nuclear power on the North Coast, or anywhere in NSW. I am calling on the Nationals MPs from across the North Coast to stand up for our community and say no.
‘I am asking for a clear commitment to a nuclear free North Coast,’ Mr Pugh said.
Mr Barilaro’s spokesman said the deputy premier’s position on nuclear energy ‘is his own. It is not the position of the Nationals or the NSW Government.

‘Mr Barilaro is simply keen to have a conversation about the technological advancements made in the nuclear energy sector.
‘Up until now there hasn’t been a debate at all, which means many people have no idea about the changes in technology the nuclear industry has seen.
‘The technology of mobile phones, motor vehicles or televisions has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. So too has nuclear technology. Yet many people continue to think of nuclear technology similar to that seen in a Simpsons episode.

‘Mr Barilaro has spent time learning more about new Gen IV Small Modular Reactors which present a very different size and style of operation to nuclear power stations of the past.

‘New Gen IV technology is promising reactors that no longer are water cooled, nor need to be located anywhere near the coast.

‘They present the potential for reliable, zero emissions power for residents and businesses across the state.

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  1. Yes… I’m telling you I expect a clear commitment [ no double talk ]
    for a NUCLEAR FREE North Coast. The Nationals are aware of
    what the people don’t need. No ‘Nukes’ – end of story. My groups
    -affiliated- were awarded the Nobel Prize last year for their stand
    against such stand-over-tactics. Nuclear power in dangerous…
    toxic… and damn right stupid. I will not see it on my watch.

  2. Why do the conservatives always fall back on old technologies? Throughout the world nuclear is gradually falling by the way side. Why? Because the construction always goes over budget and over time; because there is still no ‘safe’ way to store the waste (another form of intergenerational theft as we leave our mess for our grandchildren to clean up);the cost of safe decommissioning the plants is still not finalised with older nuclear stations still not considered safe after multiple attempts to seal them up; and of course, there is the safety issue.
    It would take 10 years at least to get approval for a nuclear power plant in Australia, probably more in the north coast given our ability to stop what we see as unacceptable developments. And then, if it was approved, it would take at least another decade or two to build. We don;t have the time!! We need to move away from polluting coal and gas as soon as possible if we are to meet even the low range carbon emission targets.
    And what is wrong with the conservatives that they cannot put their trust in new technologies which are daily being shown to be cheaper, safer and more flexible. I suppose the conservatives were still extolling horses when the world was driving cars.

  3. I’d like to know what the Barilaro’s sieverts measure is. He has been exposed to high dose of radiation whilst in the U.S of the A and his brain matter has been fried.

  4. Richard – the conservatives are believers of & in ‘the flat earth’ society now
    troubled & not believing the earth is round. They don’t have horse sense
    either so a passing mare informed me.

  5. If nuclear power is so great why is a company in the United States planning to close down three nuclear power generating plants, and/or is asking for government money to keep open nuclear and coal power stations? It is said to be suffering from market forces, including power from renewables.

  6. Name a country or major jurisdiction which runs a grid with less than 100 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt hour produced and isn’t blessed with colossal hydro assets or geothermal ones. (We run near 900 grams/KWh by the way)

    Countries like Germany have spent hundreds of billions of Euro building wind and solar and they don’t come within a bull’s roar of the figure above, in fact they burn more brown coal than we do.(They emit around 450g/KWh)

    All the science points to one conclusion, this planet is toast if we don’t hit the brakes on carbon fuels and do it now fast, or later much much faster and at much greater cost.

    So take a look at all the countries with low emissions from electricity and you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: nuclear power. Today, across the globe, nuclear power plants are being built at the fastest rate in the short history of the technology, but not in the US, which is fracking its way into a fossil fuel trap as big or bigger than the coal one they’re now leaving. Very cheap gas is killing their nuclear industry, which ironically produces 60% of their zero carbon electricity. Go figure, as the say!

    We have a choice: nuclear and renewables, or gas and renewables.

    All energy is dangerous, and all means of using it has hazards, but the data is clear, nuclear has harmed far fewer people than any other source of energy. OK, you can name two nuclear industrial accidents, but can you name the millions of people who die EVERY year from fossil fuels?

    The nuclear fuel cycle is not a technological challenge that can’t be managed, but it is a political one.

    Time to change that, because we are running out of it. Very fast.

  7. Asren Pugh is new to campaigning and it appears is doing it in a very blunt and amateurish way. I asked Mr Pugh on his Facebook page if Mr Barilaro had ever referred to putting nuclear power in the North Coast, and Mr Pugh who has responded to other comments has not seen fit to answer my question. Putting up such nonsense and then trying to present it as Lib policy if a denial is not immediately forthcoming is a way to get lots of clicks on your Facebook site, but when you cannot point to any statement supporting your innuendo you do yourself no favour. Pugh will need to go about it with a bit more finesse if he wants to present as a credible alternative to someone of Tamara Smith’s electoral calibre.

  8. as a South Aussie born in NSW, I feel for you all.

    The devious insidious nature of nuclear corruption is a reality that we in SA have lived with for many years, with a recent Royal Commission spending tens of millions of public money on propaganda, trying to manufacture consent for illegal and infeasible nuclear activities.

    The lies are so normalised nowadays – the “zero emissions” claim is ludicrous with the huge carbon footprint of the nuclear fuel chain … and with nuclear reactors in normal operation emitting huge amounts of thermal pollution and also radioactive poisons like Iodine131 … and consider the carbon footprint of the Fukushima disaster which is still pouring out poisons that have destroyed the value of billions of dollars of real estate.

    We have a wealthy trans national organisation with insidious influence in our government and media, as evidenced by the lack of outrage at the corruption shown in this classic episode of a politician being used as a stooge parroting pro nuclear propaganda,

    Stand up and speak out for future generations.

    We want our planet back now.

    • I do not understand your point about the carbon footprint of nuclear fuel chain. The heat generated and any unused material does not add CO2 the atmosphere and as such does not carry a carbon footprint. Similarly the Fukushima disaster did not of itself generate a carbon footprint only the increased generation of coal based power to replace it. What Fukushima shows are the risks of placing reactors in geologically unstable places like Japan and the risk of leaving spent material in those places. On nuclear generation here , the carbon footprint of handling the material is not zero but it would be very low as the genration itself does not add carbon, the quantities mined, shipped and disposed of are low, and no international shipping for disposal is needed for Australia which, as a South Australian ,you will be aware, is the safest place politically and geologically to store used material. A local nuclear industry would be a valuable boost to the viability of a local waste industry, positioning us to contribute to greatly lowering the risk of leakages or appropriation of nuclear material by miscreants.
      You present no evidence to support your assertion that there is any corruption involved in Barilaro’s visit, nor why it is relevant that any company involved is successful ‘”wealthy” – or “trans national” beyond an attempt to use those term as ipso facto pejoratives.
      Can I suggest that we focus on what Barilaro actually states rather than trying to second guess his comments or worse as Pugh has done, insinuating he is proposing nuclear power in our region when he has never stated that.

      • hi Peter

        Clearly you are an advocate of nuclear power and you think that South Australians must bow to the nuclear industry and allow our land and air and water to be put at risk.

        You seem to me to be a parrot of propaganda, denying the harms and minimising the costs of nuclear technology,

        Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery from your state of irrational love of radioactive poisons that harm children.

        • I am not an advocate of nuclear energy – I understand it has not been economic to date to use it in Australia. I have never read any propaganda on the subject so I cannot comment on that.

          Many countries have used it and that generates nuclear waste. I do believe Australia and perhaps Canada are probably the safest places in the world to store the waste. It is there whether we like it or not and I am open to your suggestion if there is a better place to mange its disposal. Apart from our geological stability we have a stable government, and high standards of governance. We are probably the world leaders in record keeping which is a critical governance tool needed to manage material and in providing assurance to clients and other interested parties that is is accounted for.

          I cannot see what introducing state parochialism adds to the subject beyond presenting yet another argument for abolishing the states. If South Australians are not interested in making a few bob while providing the world with the benefits of safe Australian storage, I am sure there are other suitable places in the wide brown land. However just as Barillaro would not build a nuclear power station in Bangalow or Mullumbimby you would not store the waste around here either even if it could help pay for the Byron Line 🙂 .


  9. Well put, Brett. Artful lies are indeed nasty, large, & ominous. Radioactive
    killers are ‘for real’ – so forget the fancy political foot-working propaganda.
    The planet needs support – NOW.

  10. Peter’s comments are at odds to what Barillaro was spruiking on radio last week. Let’s just face in the time to put them on line is huge and every time proposals are made about nuclear waste storage, the opposition sinks it even in strong conservative electorates.

    • Pugh referred to Barillaro’s comments on the radio and I asked him if Barillaro had referred to nuclear power generation on the North Coast. Pugh did not respond so I presume Barillaro did not mention the Norht Coast – why would he? Refer me to the transcript if I am wrong but as far as I am aware Barillaro has not raised the possibly of nuclear power on the Norht Coast, and that suggestion is just a Labor beat up. The negativity around nuclear disposal is perhaps understandable but it is unfortunate that parties use it to make political capital. Except perhaps in Canada there is no safer place to put it.


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