Monday, June 20, 2005

Australia and Nuclear power

I feel compelled to talk about this issue because for some reason this entry regarding the subject is the one that had been cached by Google. The issue had also been raised (perhaps half jokingly) by Dr. Clam as a possibly left wing assertion that we should build lots of Nuclear reactors to avoid the horrible environmental desecration of our environment by Hydro-electric schemes. Of course the failure of the Gordon/Franklin Hydro power project back in the eighties completely convinced me that the environmental movement and their casual supporters had lost all sense of priority.

As far as it goes, Australia is already the worlds largest supplier, and has the worlds largest reserves of Uranium. Now I don’t think that Uranium can be treated like any other mineral, in the sense that we should allow for the fact that it is an important ingredient in making the worst weapons imaginable. However most of the consumption of Uranium has to be assumed to be for electricity generation. The Uranium that goes into making bombs will hopefully never be used, such that it can be a nuisance for the stupid country that thought it was a good idea to have these weapons lying around for “deterrence”. The reality is that much less a deterrent than an encouragement for an enemy country to use theirs against you, or organise a nasty accident with your own using a few suicide agents. Like buying guns for protection (statistics show that they are a hundred times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder), nuclear weapons are only good for risking ones own citizens.

It would seem silly to start generating loads of electricity using Uranium when prices are at an all time high, so I don’t see any reason to build lots of them. It would be a shame to waste the fact that we’ve got so much of the stuff, however. If only we could show the rest of the world really responsible ways to use Uranium as a resource! I think we should import a huge amount of nuclear expertise from USA, add in a large dollop of our own research, and develop a prototype nuclear electricity generator. It would be failsafe, could not be used for bomb making, and include a full lifecycle disposal system so that the end products could be buried and be no worse for the environment than the stuff that was dug up in the first place. I believe that technology (in this case) can come up with a clean, green and economical (when including the full lifecycle) electricity generation system. Once this technology is perfected, we could be exporting the design of the system. Hopefully, technology could find a way to export the Uranium such that it could only be used in these kinds of generators, and could not be made weapons useable.

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