No need for nukes

Fifty years of overseas experiences show that the nuclear power industry is incapable of surviving without ongoing Government subsidies and massive taxpayer-funded insurance, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said today.

As Education Minister Julie Bishop received a report by the Government's pro-nuclear Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) talking about the viability of nuclear power, ACF said nuclear's huge financial risks are inevitably covered by ordinary citizens.

"Governments always cover the risks of constructing nuclear reactors - insuring them against terrorist attacks, storing and managing the ever-growing radioactive waste and dealing with the effects of radiation when accidents happen," said ACF Executive Director Don Henry.

"Taking ANSTO's advice on nuclear power is like getting advice from the fox on how to construct the chicken coop. Australia doesn't need to go nuclear. We must get on with the job of tackling climate change right now with a mix of renewable energy, energy efficiency and strong laws to cut our CO² emissions.

"Let's not forget, nuclear power inevitably produces radioactive waste that remains carcinogenic for thousands of years. And it is the only form of electricity generation that could blow up your city.

"Nuclear is too dirty, too dangerous, too expensive and far too slow to be seriously considered as a solution to the urgent issue of climate change.

"While commissioning and constructing a nuclear reactor would take more than a decade, renewables like wind and solar could be delivering clean power next year and better energy efficiency measures could be reducing emissions next week.

"Renewable energy is here, it's real and it works. Renewables supply 19 per cent of electricity worldwide. In 2004 around 4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases - half the world's annual emissions - did not pollute the global atmosphere because renewables were being used instead of fossil fuels.

"South Australia is already getting around 10 per cent of its electricity from wind power - and those wind farms have been set up in the last five years.

"We can avoid dangerous climate change, but we need to take action now with renewable energy, energy efficiency and national laws that cut our emissions. Flirting with nuclear is just a dangerous distraction."

For further information see ACF's briefing paper Nuclear energy - no solution to climate change.