I want South Australia to become a nuclear powered state. Nuclear power is safe, it’s cheap and it represents a phenomenal opportunity for the South Australian economy.
I had been quietly preparing a detailed proposal for a South Australian nuclear industry when on 8 February 2015 the state government announced a Royal Commission into the very same subject – an inquiry of the highest order to investigate a range of possible roles for our state in this industry and advise on what would be most worthwhile.
I have made a submission to the South Australian Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle that proposes we stake our claim in the global nuclear fuel recycling industry. When nuclear reactors process uranium, they actually leave about 96% of its energy potential untapped. Even though spent fuel has a lot of power left to give, to old reactors its useless. New technology reactors can extract the rest. Not only do they harness the power, the resulting by-products are much smaller and safer to store.
What it means
Australia exports uranium to nuclear nations the world over. When nuclear reactors process that uranium, they’ve in fact used only 96% of its energy potential.
New technology reactors, like the PRISM from GE, are capable of reusing that spent uranium and extracting from it almost all of the remaining energy potential.
World-wide there are more than 240,000 tonnes of spent uranium in countries with older nuclear infrastructure. Many are restricted from managing that uranium themselves and are willing to pay handsomely to the state that does so for them.
Spent uranium is not nuclear waste so we are not talking about waste and we are not talking about a waste dump. It’s in fact 96% of the same product we exported in the first place.
What’s in it for us?
If we move to take custody of and recycle this spent nuclear fuel, we could generate significant revenues and extremely cheap electricity for the benefit of South Australian citizens and businesses.
Plentiful and cheap power would be a compelling reason for businesses to base themselves in South Australia and it would relieve cost of living pressures for our citizens.
Australia is considered the best location on Earth to host nuclear facilities due to our geological and political stability, our financial standing and our strong track record in nuclear non-proliferation and South Australia has a very high degree of public support for a nuclear industry.
At the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane only two countries in attendance were not either using nuclear power or preparing to use it – Australia and Italy. Yet Australia provides uranium to most of the others.
State Labor has tried unsuccessfully to tax its way to prosperity making South Australia the highest taxed state in Australia.
In 2014 the South Australian Labor Government handed down the largest budget deficit in our state’s history. We need an economic circuit breaker. Spent uranium reprocessing is it.
Why aren’t others doing it?
This is such a remarkable opportunity you might ask why others aren’t embracing it. While some countries are restricted from recycling their spent uranium on account of diplomatic restrictions, regional security sensitivities or regulatory hurdles, other countries are committed to older generation technology and it takes time to upgrade.
The reality is while we have an early advantage, we must move quickly because while we wait others are preparing to move. The nuclear industry is a conservative beast and it’s slow to adapt, but the bottom line is if we don’t move others will take the opportunity instead.
There’s a huge global market in the management of spent nuclear fuel and this represents an opportunity for South Australia. We desperately need an economic advantage to give business an incentive to set up in South Australia, bringing with them jobs and economic growth for our state. The status-quo will no longer do.
A campaign like this isn’t won by a politician. I require the active support of citizens, like-minded public figures and business leaders. I need you to help return prosperity to South Australia.