Vince Kean, Murwillumbah
The atomic power push have become active again. Like the climate-change deniers the atomic-power pushers just keep coming back, no matter how often they are smacked down by good sense. The facts once again:
Firstly atomic power is not carbon neutral. It produces enormous quantities of carbon in the production and construction of the power plant and its ongoing operation continues to produce carbon for the length of the limited life of the plant.
Secondly it produces relatively large amounts of extremely toxic materials that cannot be safely stored. To the toxic waste product outputs must be added the disposables used in the power plant: gloves, overshoes, protective garments, tools etc are all carriers of nuclear contamination; all must be stored safely.
Thirdly the power plant itself is only a machine and will eventually have to be decommissioned and made safe for future generations. Engineers and scientists will need to be employed for hundreds of years to make sure that deadly contamination is contained. They will need to be paid by someone (probably you the taxpayer and your children) until the waste and the decommissioned equipment cease to be a danger. This time frame runs into thousands of years. A very big wages bill that I can’t see the owners of the power plants paying.
Fourthly the waste materials and contaminated items make ideal weapons for terrorists or even gangster elements to use as a basis for blackmail and other forms of extortion. The contaminated items will need to be guarded carefully for, once again, thousands of years. You can bet that the companies making money from energy production will not be paying the bill for a thousand years of security. Once again it is you the taxpayer and your children who will foot the bill.
Fifthly there is a whole raft of legal, technical, moral and ethical problems that will surround the plants. Most of these have not been solved and are not capable of solution.
Sixthly the plants have shown a definite capacity to pollute the environment, ranging from relatively small leakages to the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima disasters. We are expected to accept the technocrats’ assurances that modern plants are safe. Unfortunately their record does support this.
Quite obviously the atomic power plants are not an economic proposition. Companies can only make a profit if they grab their short-term profits and shift their long-term costs onto the taxpayer.
Atomic power is not a panacea for a world addicted to the excessive use of inanimate power. It is a con job of breath-taking proportions, diverting us from a desperately needed consideration of the sustainable use of this wonderful, beautiful planet.