The option of using nuclear power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation has been raised from time to time during the national debate on the carbon tax and climate change.
Although nuclear power it is not currently on the government’s energy agenda, Australia is a major supplier of uranium to the global nuclear industry which produces 14 per cent of the world’s electricity from four hundred and forty reactors in thirty countries. Their combined fifty year experience provides a basis on which to consider the deployment of nuclear power here.
As memories of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident and the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe receded, a global nuclear power renaissance seemed likely as climate change concerns mounted. Then came the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster following a massive earthquake and tsunami.
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One steamy night in February 1974, I went with friends to hear the great blues guitarist B.B. King in concert at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion.
All went well until, an hour or so in, King collapsed on stage and had to be carried off. I left the Hordern in search of a phone box.
The first one was broken. Finding one that worked, I stuffed some money in, rang one of the copy-takers at ABC News and dictated five lines of copy.
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While Japan 2011 will be remembered for the tragic earthquake and tsunami that swept a destructive path through coastal communities, it will also go down in history as a date with destiny on the nuclear energy debate following the fallout from the Fukushima reactor emergency.
Fears surrounding the ongoing crisis at the Japanese nuclear plant have seen it described as the “New Chernobyl”.
The immediate scale of the disaster may not be as dire as Chernobyl but, like the Ukrainian accident, its potential to set back for years the proliferation of nuclear energy as an alternative to carbon-based sources of power is equally as significant.
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