John Howard, Alexander Downer, John White, Hugh Morgan – they all went quiet – but now there’s a new team pushing that barrow.
South Australia’s election will be held on March 15. That’s three days after the third anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. That disaster is ongoing, with continual leaking of radioactive water, with four reactors still in a perilous state. As a result, global enthusiasm for the nuclear fuel cycle has remained considerably dampened.
Along with that nuclear dampening, the uranium market has suffered badly. South Australia has seen the abandonment of BHP’s plan for a grandiose new open cut mine at Olympic Dam, crippling losses for Heathgate Resources’ Beverley uranium mine, Marathon Resources giving up on uranium exploration as an unviable business. Australian uranium mining overseas has fared no better, with the much-troubled Paladin uranium mine in Malawi now shutting down.
So – no surprise that Labor and Liberal contenders are being very low-key about nuclear and uranium issues: The Herald Sun reports
Jay Weatherill : No (chance that SA will have a nuclear industry). I think it’s a dangerous distraction.
Marshall:, the Opposition doesn’t have a nuclear energy division, it’s a potential for the future but I think it would be a long way off.
Yet, against all the market omens, a determined push for a nuclear South Australia has resurfaced, Why?
Well, first of all, that pro nuclear drive never really went away. It just went underground, along with John White’s UK/US/Australian consortium: the Nuclear Fuel Leasing Group.
In the late 1990s a really determined push was underway, supported by politicians on both sides, and with businessmen salivating at their prospects, for a private full-nuclear-cycle industry, importing overseas nuclear wastes. In 2011, Sandi Keane has exposed this in Independent Australia- Plans for Australia to become world”s nuclear waste dump
It’s a bit like a family tree – with all the inter-connected political and business names enthusing about this proposal:
Political figures The overseas political figures included Bill Clinton’s Special envoy Robert Gallucci, and later George W Bush. In Australia- John Howard, Liberal Senator Judith Troeth, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, former foreign minister Alexander Downer, former foreign minister Gareth Evans, Liberal/National Coalition Senators, and Labor MP Martin Ferguson argued for a nuclear waste importing Australia.
On the business side, Pangea Resources was a joint venture of British Nuclear Fuels Limited, Golder Associates and Swiss radioactive waste management entity Nagra. Prominent in Australia, were John White and Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd. Directors, Hugh Morgan, Ron Walker and Robert de Crespigny, major donors to the Liberal Party
Now to the present. While Federal Liberal and Labor remain coyly silent, the renewed push is taking off. The Department of Industry recently recommended Small Modular Nuclear Reactors that they say can be “readily dispatched into the market”. This despite the fact that these designs exist only at the blueprint stage. It’s not clear who was responsible for this extraordinary paper .
As in previous decades, overseas nuclear publicists are a big part of the push. The most active is the USA’s Breakthrough Institute with its nuclear advertorial film “Pandora’s Promise” shown around Australia late last year. Nuclear propagandists such as nuclear physicist Wade Allison (UK) and nuclear engineer Rod Adams (USA). Businessmen include Davd Pentz Chairman of Pangea Resources “whose sole aim is to explore the world for suitable nuclear waste dumps; Daniel Poneman, principal of Scowcroft; and Mike Simpson, head of business development projects for British Nuclear Fuels.”
What about the local scene? The same old nuclear troupers are almost certainly still pushing away for this nuclear hub. John White of the Nuclear Fuel Leasing Group is still in the push, though somewhat under the radar since Fukushima. Alexander Downer’s still in it, though he went a bit quiet after Fukushima. John Carlson long involved in Australia’s nuclear policy, is a firm nuclear power supporter Queensland Businessman Martin Nicholson joins the fray with the contemporary tactic of attacking renewable energy while promoting nuclear.
In 2013-2014, In business circles, the Adelaide nuclear push has come to the fore.They do seem to be a motley crew. They are guided by some national forces (The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI), and the Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd, who has a range of business interests
In Adelaide Professor Stefan Simons pushes the USA military connection, and the desirability of nuclear submarines for Australia. Simons’ research at University College London’s Adelaide campus, is funded by BHP. Back in London, lecturers in UCL are not impressed with the pro nuclear bias in his research.
At Flinders University, Professor Pamela Sykes runs a program funded by USA’s Department of Energy, researching the proposition that low dose ionising radiation is good for health
Adelaide is Australia’s heartland of active pro-nuclear propaganda. Alone among Australian climate academics, Adelaide University’s Professor Barry Brook promotes nuclear with a propaganda website Brave New Climate, ostensibly about climate, but it’s all nuclear. Tom Wigley PhD mathematical physics, University of Adelaide, and Ben Heard of Think Climate Consulting very actively promote the nuclear industry across many media platforms.
On February Terry Kreig, 9th South Australia’s spokesman for the nuclear promotion lobby, Australian Nuclear Forum advocated the nuclear fuel cycle. waste dump, and Small Modular Reactors , on ABC Radio National’s “Ockham’s Razor
Business circles in Adelaide: .Business South Australia has just come out for uranium enrichment and nuclear waste dumping. Business SA does not reveal the names of those promoting this.
There’s another bunch of Adelaide business people now enthusing about the nuclear fuel cycle for South Australia:
– Kent Aughey – Ashington Investment Management Pty Ltd (Chairman and National Board Member)
– Nathan Paine is Chief Commercial Officer at the Property Council of Australia.
– Theo Maras Property developer
– Sally Neville Chief executive of Restaurant and Catering SA
– Andrew McKenna Senior Policy Adviser at Business SA
I don’t know why this diverse group of people is so passionately in favour of the full nuclear power cycle and radioactive waste dumping for South Australia. I can only suppose that they see South Australia as an economically depressed State, and therefore envisage the nuclear developments as some kind of financial bonanza for the State.
I ponder that some academics might get a kind of glorious fame, in being Australia’s only climate “experts” who advocate nuclear power.
It distresses me that only one of people mentioned has any expertise in health and ionising radiation, nor in ecology. That person is Professor Pamela Sykes,who has been co-opted by the USA Department of Energy to try to prove how healthy low dose radiation is.