Monday, November 9, 2009

Darlington Review column: Is Nuclear Power the solution to climate change?

Darlington residents on October 24 helped show the world that ordinary people want the current political inaction on global warming to end.

Unfortunately, there are forces at work in Australia seeking to stampede us towards nuclear power, a radioactive response to our outmoded coal-burning stations.
Nuclear industry executives see a business opportunity to arrest their declining fortunes. Supporters of radioactive electricity concurrently run two false arguments: renewable energy can’t do the job and nuclear reactors are clean, safe and climate-friendly. 

However, there is enough wave energy along WA's coastline (from Geraldton to Bremer Bay) to provide more than 5 times WA's current electrical energy demand.  Carnegie Wave Energy Ltd has just moved past the feasibility testing stage into electricity production at its site near Fremantle.  The Department of Defence is contracting it to provide power to Garden Island naval base and Exmouth.

Far from a greenhouse gas solution, nuclear energy is emission-intensive.  Except for the power generation itself, every stage in the nuclear-power cycle — uranium mining, ore processing, refining, transport, construction and maintenance — churns out carbon dioxide. 

Radioactive mine tailings and reactor waste can’t be safely disposed of. The wastage of water in uranium mining and nuclear power stations makes them unsuitable for Australia.

If wind, wave or solar power generators break down, they just need fixing. But the 1986 Chernobyl accident shows the risks of nuclear reactors.

Darlington householders are ahead of the WA government in harnessing solar energy by putting panels on our rooftops.

We have to combine that example with pressure on the government to switch to renewables as fast as possible.  Solar, wind, geo-thermal and other renewables are the real solutions we need.
For an informative debate between environmentalists on the topic go to

Contact Annolies/Barry on 9299 6453 or