CHOICE membership

Nuclear power


A 4000 car pile up is a 4000 car pile up. A core meltdown is a bit different. To each their own comfort level. When things are going well they are going well. When things go badly the extremes are quite different. A half life of the problem being around for centuries is not reassuring to me or my descendants.


Indeed. And if we knew the 4000 car pileup was a one-off then fine, but if we created in some way at an ever increasing rate environments or situations that made the 4000 car pileup more likely, then something that was once news becomes commonplace, but not something we want.

And the question of waste management - I think there are some who would contend we can scarcely handle the amount of waste coming out of our houses at the moment - let alone industry - and then theres nuclear waste … we would propose dependency on an industry that creates waste the likes of which we have never seen or (some would argue) we’ve never been able to manage - and for certain there is nobody who can say with any guarantee or level of real confidence that even the best proposals of management will last the lifetime of the waste. Head in the sand while we juggle it seems like the current method. I don’t know if that’s real but its how it seems to me. You have to wonder why the French are pursuing change if Nuclear is such a good idea.

Which is not to say that one day cleaner and manageable nuclear won’t be a reality. Seems like that day is yet to come though.

To say other disasters are more likely than Chernobyl might be true - and as Schneier writes often online and did so in his book “Beyond Fear” - we humans are particularly bad at assessing risk - more people die each year from pigs than sharks, and that the definition of ‘news’ is something that almost never happens - we should be more worried about things that kill us or pose some risk that are so common they never make the news. That works day to day - but the big events of history are probably best avoided if we venture down dangerous paths we don’t have answers to today.

That’s why I have solar panels on my roof and no uranium in my kitchen :slight_smile: TANSTAAFL …


On a bit of a tangent, I just came across this free eBook on energy storage. Day by day, nuclear power in any form grows less and less relevant.

As renewable energy use expands there will be a need to develop ways to balance its variability. Storage is one of the options. Presently the main emphasis is for systems storing electrical power in advanced batteries (many of them derivatives of parallel developments in the electric vehicle field), as well as via liquid air storage, compressed air storage, super-capacitors and flywheels, and, the leader so far, pumped hydro reservoirs. In addition, new systems are emerging for hydrogen generation and storage, feeding fuel cell power production. Heat (and cold) is also a storage medium and some systems exploit thermal effects as part of wider energy management activity. Some of the more exotic ones even try to use gravity on a large scale. This short book looks at all the options, their potentials and their limits. There are no clear winners, with some being suited to short-term balancing and others to longer-term storage. The eventual mix adopted will be shaped by the pattern of development of other balancing measures, including smart-grid demand management and super-grid imports and exports.


The grand vision in Australia at the moment is piano sized, and election cycle based.

Unfortunately our politics and voters don’t value brains and foresight. Look at what happened to Barry Jones.


France has started a ‘return to sender’ program. They have returned our waste back to Lucas Heights.


You miss my point. Very few people have actually died as a result of nuclear power despite its being around for over 50 years. No one died as a result of Fukushima. Now had you deduced a century ago in the early days of the motor car that globally 1.25 million people would be being killed in road accidents every year, would you have supported it’s development? Motor transport has transformed the world’s economies, and yet it kills an awful lot of people. Nuclear power hasn’t, and probably won’t, and certainly not on the same scale. Better and better systems are being developed and small modular units are being developed by nimble start-ups, many in universities, and these appear to be the way of the future. Advanced designs also have the capability to be meltdown proof. As of April 2017, the Nuclear Energy Institute reported that 30 countries worldwide are operating 449 nuclear reactors for electricity generation, and 60 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries. Norway is currently testing a thorium based reactor which began operating in 2013, and thorium is more than likely to supplant uranium as it is a very safe nuclear fuel.


It might pay to reconsider your belief that very few people have actually died. Please note the figures cited in the web pages below are from conservative authoritative sources.

It states “As of February 27, 2017, the Fukushima prefecture government has tallied 2,129 “disaster-related deaths” in the prefecture.”

“38 people whose deaths are directly attributable to the Chernobyl disaster.” “There were a total of 137 confirmed cases of ARS” (Acute Radiation Syndrome)

“In the case of Chernobyl, 31 people died as a direct result of the accident; two died from blast effects and a further 29 firemen died as a result of acute radiation exposure”
“A study in the International Journal of Cancer by Cardis et al. (2006) estimates a total of 16,000 deaths across Europe”
“Radiation scientists Fairlie and Sumner provide some of highest estimates, predicting between 30,000-60,000 deaths”

So very roughly, we are looking at 18,000 deaths directly attributable to just those two accidents.


As “Our World in Data” also comments, the assessment of deaths caused by events such as Chernobyl and Fukushima is both complex and contested. I seem to recall that WHO produced a paper explaining in detail how difficult it was to determine how many people died as an actual result of Chernobyl. It was impossible to tell whether people who many years later died from thyroid cancer had developed it, for example, as a result of radiation, or whether there was some other unrelated cause. Anyway, none of that is the point. In the last 10 years motor vehicles have killed upwards of 10 million people and we appear to accept that without complaint. Presumably we all feel the benefits far outweigh the costs. As “Our World in Data” also points out, there are 442 times as many deaths from brown coal as there are from nuclear incidents. With 448 nuclear plants operating around the world, together with nuclear powered naval vessels and submarines, the nuclear track record is pretty good, and will continue to improve, particularly with the advances being made in thorium reactors. Australia is extremely geologically stable, and is an ideal place to build nuclear power stations which can’t melt down, and to store waste, which with thorium will have very low short-term emissions of little consequence . Science advances the whole time, as is the belief that batteries will gradually become cheaper, lighter, faster to charge and hold far more energy. Nuclear power is following the same path and offers far greater benefits. And if you ARE worried about waste, check out the frightful pollution battery manufacture produces, let alone the disposal costs of batteries after a relatively short life.


[quote=“meltam6554, post:108, topic:14728”]
It might pay to reconsider your belief that very few people have actually died.
[/quote]Beyond the immediate and spectacular, it’s difficult to confidently attribute any specific death to any specific nuclear incident. Nuclear proponents use that as an excuse to pretend that no nuclear accident has caused any - or “very few” - deaths. In truth, we’ll probably never know the true toll. I’m reasonably confident, however, that people are still dying and will continue to die for some time. The impacts of radiation and contamination continue through generations.

Meanwhile, for those who still think nuclear has a future, I’m surprised to find a proposal to export Australian renewable energy to Indonesia. Most surprising of all is the idea that it might be funded by the NAIF. By all accounts, NAIF was set up to support fossil fuels (specifically, Adani’s Carmichael Mine and associated HELE coal power plant).


Yes and the on-going deaths resulting from the radioactive materials from these that are now in the environment, placed by humanity in a way that makes them hazardous to everything. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini Atolls, The French Mururoa Atoll, The British Nuclear tests in Australia have all caused similar fatalities and health issues through cancers, deformities that make life impossible or difficult, as well as the deaths as direct results of radiation exposure.

Some might say this is different to Nuclear Power but the result from a Reactor accident is the same as if a bomb, in the end it is the Radioactive short and long half life materials that now enter our diets and bodies because of the inability for us to safely clean them up. Loss of valuable living space, contamination of pastures and water, on-going health implications (not just deaths) and other associated results have not only unseen, and I would suggest incalculable, financial costs but many other impacts on humanity and our World that go far beyond any monetary costs.


Compared to skin cancer deaths?


What are you comparing? The number, the cause, the cost or all?

The cause of skin cancer deaths (though some are a result of Radiation exposure) is not wholly preventable but you as an individual can take many steps to avoid the UV exposure nor do you pass on the genetic damage to your descendants. Whereas you have almost no control over the impacts of the radiation we have let loose on the environment and in this I am not talking just about the effect to us as human beings but the entire biosphere.

Some papers that show the link between ionizing radiation and cancers including skin see:

Shore RE (May 2001). “Radiation-induced skin cancer in humans”. Med. Pediatr. Oncol. 36 (5): 549–54. doi:10.1002/mpo.1128. PMID 11340610

Fink CA, Bates MN; Bates (November 2005). “Melanoma and ionizing radiation: is there a causal relationship?”. Radiat. Res. 164 (5): 701–10. doi:10.1667/RR3447.1. PMID 16238450

Lichter, Michael D.; et al. (Aug 2000). “Therapeutic ionizing radiation and the incidence of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The New Hampshire Skin Cancer Study Group”. Arch Dermatol. 136 (8): 1007–11. doi:10.1001/archderm.136.8.1007. PMID 10926736

Suárez B, López-Abente G, Martínez C; et al. (2007). “Occupation and skin cancer: the results of the HELIOS-I multicenter case-control study”. BMC Public Health. 7: 180. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-180. PMC 1994683 Freely accessible. PMID 17655745

Yoshinaga S, Mabuchi K, Sigurdson AJ, Doody MM, Ron E; Mabuchi; Sigurdson; Doody; Ron (November 2004). “Cancer risks among radiologists and radiologic technologists: review of epidemiologic studies”. Radiology. 233 (2): 313–21. doi:10.1148/radiol.2332031119. PMID 15375227

Wakeford R (August 2004). “The cancer epidemiology of radiation”. Oncogene. 23 (38): 6404–28. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1207896. PMID 15322514

The number? Well if you count from radiation damage all the lost fetuses, still births, deaths at birth, deaths within the childhood and teenage years, reduced life expectancy of adults then the count rises, though it is difficult to enumerate and also to place the radiation as a direct cause of death in all the cases.

The cost? I would suggest the cost of the nuclear accidents is an on-going one like the costs of skin cancer but to our Biosphere I think the cost probably far outweighs the cost than that of skin cancers on the Biosphere.


What I am saying is that life is a risk. There are lots of reasons why we might die.
Our electricty problems don’t come from over use of the precautionary principle, they come about because of government inaction. They come from idealistic zealots.

What’s being done right now to get the cost of electricity down? Nothing! It’s all talk. Paris talk.

The consumers of Australia deserve better.
We want action!


Sure we are all going to die, that is a given. Given choices of how we die there are better ways than others and from my reading on radiation induced deaths I think I would shun those, among a lot of others to boot, ways and favour the other “kinder” ways.

To the inaction of politicians I do agree, we need to develop means of powering our nation that harness clean, reusable/renewable resources so that we leave behind a better world rather than a worse one when we do die.

I like a number of renewable options, one involves a grid connected power supply that harnesses both large and small storage placements. This involves each house having it’s own storage and generation, then groups of houses having a centralised storage, then these groups having another centralised storage hub and so on it goes till it reaches a point that all power needs can be met and avoid areas of low supply. Think of it being like a series of substations and as they approach a premises they get smaller in size. Each house/building produces power and fills it’s storage, once full it then sends the excess to it’s hub, if it is short it pulls from the hub. If the hub gets short it pulls from a hub that supplies a series of these hubs and if they have excess it flows back into the bigger system. It doesn’t need to get too big as every place unless very remote can pull and supply from all over Australia.

But any choice that is different to the current and to my belief unsatisfactory political fix requires an large upfront cost. It also requires the will of all to place all of us above an individualistic, short sighted, and perhaps self-centred, selfish view of the cost. This is, in my opinion, what has hampered the NBN, this idea the cost is too high, if viewed as solely as this is only for today’s generation, perhaps yes it is but if viewed from the long view about what we leave as our national inheritance to our descendants the cost to our nation is much much smaller and in fact could and I think would be a great benefit.


But who’s going to do it?


Simple answer is us, we are the only ones who can make the change now, because we are the only ones here at the moment.

These are some of the things you can do right now, some may be out of your ability to do but any action is better than none:

Write to your local, state, and federal members to get them to listen, hold them accountable for their decisions.

Write to your papers about what is needed.

Start a blog about it.

Put renewable power supplies on our houses, put storage in if it can be afforded.

Make your house as energy efficient as you can. Examples are change to LED lights, get energy efficient appliances.

Join groups that look at the options, investigate and use their “political” power to get the needed changes.

Put some money into a bank account to help pay for the power supply you want in the future if you can’t afford it now and put it in your will how you want it spent if you die so it can be used to improve the issues.

Vote on the policies that you want not the party you like.

Learn about the ways to do it, pass the knowledge onto your children and grandchildren and apply to your life the things that you can do now.

They are just some of what you can do, some are what I can and do now.


I’ve done most of that stuff. Can’t afford batteries, but I live on a hill so I’m going to look at hydro storage.

When i got involved in this thread, I suggested nuclear to get some attention. I don’t feel strongly either way. But i do have strong feelings about the cost of electricty compared to other countries.

I was hoping that Choice could lobby on our behalf to drive an action to galvanize our “leaders” into action.

The whole political / government process is really quite depressing…


Hm not fact savvy here but having spent a good deal of time in country France over the last three years I am now wondering - if nuclear is so efficient and precedes renewables by many years, why are there wind farms every few kilometres and hydro stations on and down the major rivers at very close intervals? Would not have thought they would be bothering with renewables if the nuclear option was the solution. And lots of people have solar panels on their roofs as well. If power is so cheap why would they bother?


[quote=“john.fletcher, post:118, topic:14728”]
I was hoping that Choice could lobby on our behalf to drive an action to galvanize our “leaders” into action.[/quote]We’re suffering the consequences of a generation of privatisation and political negligence. Our generation probably won’t see the harm remedied, but we can start the ball rolling for future generations. And yes, Choice might have a role to play. It is undeniably a consumer issue.

[quote=“john.fletcher, post:118, topic:14728”]
The whole political / government process is really quite depressing…
[/quote]Ain’t that the truth! Don’t get depressed, get ANGRY! :angry:


You got some attention. In doing so you went down the path (or pretended to) that has contributed to us being in this mess: that is of the quick fix and lack of vision. The current problem with power prices has many sources.

  • As you say, inaction. The present electoral system that leads polies to limit their vision to to somewhere between the next headline and the next election will never support nation building and long term planning. This has many negative outcomes, the current messes of power supply and NBN are just two.

  • Inappropriate ideology. Selling off the poles and wires was done in the name of (discredited) economics and ideology. So we got ‘gold plating’. Failing to accept the science of climate change, because if it were true the world wouldn’t work the way some would like, gave us policy freeze and chaos. Deregulation of the energy market gave us such weirdness as all wholesale power is charged at the price of the most expensive component of the current bundle regardless of the cost or profit margin of any component. The generators are laughing all the way to the bank but the rest of us are hurt and confused.

  • Inappropriate power of big business. Our polies govern too much for vested interest and too little for the people. This has contributed to the failure to adjust to climate change realities generally, and specifically the extraordinary power of the mining industry, who effectively killed the only partially effective federal government initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Sadly these manifest failures that make us angry also lead towards the desire for quick-fix remedies. The result is voters turning towards fringe parties who will promise the world (having no idea of how to deliver) and to demanding irrational solutions such as building nuclear power or getting rid of renewables.

The core problem is not with choosing the wrong source of energy it is with failing abysmally to manage the necessary transition from old forms to new.