16 Apr (NucNet): Australia can have a clean, low-carbon, low-cost future using nuclear energy, but political parties are not addressing the issue because they see it as being too contentious, Australian Nuclear Association vice-president Rob Parker told Sydney radio station 2GB.
Mr Parker said Australia, where legislation prevents the use of nuclear energy, has some of the world’s highest energy prices and is at serious risk of destabilising its economy if it does not address energy policies.
“Where I am really fearful is not just nuclear energy, but where this country is going if we don’t sort out our energy policy,” he said.
Mr Parker said Australia can address its environmental and economic needs with nuclear energy. He called on the government to “engage with the issue, engage with the people who know how to build nuclear plants and get on and do the proper investigation”.
He said: “Sure, if people then find it’s not the way forward that’s the way it falls. But at the moment the investigation is not being done.”
According to Mr Parker, the use of nuclear energy is not being addressed because neither main political bloc in the coalition government – the Liberal-National Coalition and the Labor Party – wants to face a contentious issue like nuclear.
“We are not seriously carrying out the types of investigation that we should be doing. The government, to the best of my knowledge, is not looking closely at the proper economic evaluation.”
Asked about the public’s perception of nuclear energy, Mr Parker said the concern people reasonably have is the risk of death caused by a form of generation. “But when we look at nuclear we find that it is established as the safest form of power generation we have on the planet. It is safer than coal, safer than oil, safer than everything including solar and wind.”
He said there are fewer deaths recorded for nuclear energy per unit of output than any other form of energy. Nuclear has been established to have saved “many millions” from an early death due to air pollution around the globe.
Addressing the 2011 accident at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan, Mr Parker said the three meltdowns were “a terrible engineering issue but people have not died as a result”.
He said: “We must remember that Fukushima was caused by what was probably the largest earthquake ever recorded. People tend to forget the disaster was a tsunami that drowned people, it was not the meltdown of three reactors. The deaths were not caused by nuclear.”
He said billions of dollars have been spent around the globe ensuring that the existing generations of plants, which have proved to be incredibly safe, do not suffer the kind of event that occurred at Fukushima-Daiichi.