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Minister’s loyalty to the mining industry warps his vision of nuclear power

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 3 May 2013

"Gary Gray's loyalty to the mining industry has blinded him to the fact nuclear power in Australia makes no economic or environmental sense," Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said after the energy minister voiced support for a local nuclear power sector.

"The energy minister's declared optimism that nuclear power generation ‘issues' will ‘be attended to in a timely fashion' is unfounded. Nuclear power generation's ‘issues' are fundamental and inextricable: the only way to avoid them is to avoid nuclear power completely.

"While the case against nuclear power anywhere in the world is strong, the idea of a nuclear power sector in Australia is particularly ridiculous. There is no business case for it whatsoever and that will remain the case.

"In May 2012 a Reuters analyst reported ‘a clear upward trajectory is evident in developed countries' in the cost of nuclear power driven by increased safety regulation, project delays, and skills shortages. Even before Fukushima, capital costs for nuclear power construction were rising fast.

"In 2011 Emeritus Professor of nuclear physics at the Australian National University, George Dracoulis, said a conventional reactor of a standard design producing 1000 megawatts of power - less than 25% of Victoria's power needs - would cost up to five billion dollars. Add to that the costs of insurance inflated by the risks posed by nuclear power.

"Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf, an energy expert based at the University of New South Wales, says nuclear energy is unviable and rakes in large hidden subsidies, including taxpayers taking on the burden of insuring and decommissioning power stations and of liability for their breakdowns.

"Nuclear enrichment facilities in Australia are not welcome - they would be a disaster waiting to happen environmentally, and an instant disaster financially."

Senator Ludlam noted that Labor Party policy is opposed to nuclear power in Australia and that South Australian energy minister, Labor's Tom Koutsantonis said nuclear power in Australia is not commercially viable.

"In Europe, Japan and the United States nuclear power is in retreat. 150 nuclear power stations in Europe alone are scheduled for closure. The world uranium price has collapsed from almost $US140 a pound in 2007 to just over $US40 today because nuclear is on the way out.

"Australia is blessed with perfect conditions for renewable energy generation, particularly solar, which is clean, safe and doesn't run out. The Minister needs to focus on the future of energy generation - renewables - and the long-term jobs they will bring."

Senator Ludlam has produced a report on how the entire South West Grid in Western Australia could be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2029:

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