Nuclear energy solution too slow, say Greens

Nuclear energy solution too slow, say Greens

The Greens say the findings of a prime ministerial task force on nuclear energy are bad news for the nuclear industry.

Prime Minister John Howard released the final report of the review into nuclear energy, uranium mining and processing this morning.

Greens Senator Christine Milne says the report shows uranium will not be a suitable energy alternative for at least 15 years.

She says the Government has deliberately released the report between Christmas and New Year so that people will not notice the bad news.

“Nuclear is no answer to climate change, it is too slow, too expensive and too dangerous,” she said.

“Not one of the Prime Minister’s backed nuclear reactors will come on stream within 15 years and the Stern report has said clearly that we only have 10 to 15 years to turn around catastrophic global warming.”

But Mr Howard says the chair of his nuclear task force, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, makes clear in his final report that nuclear power is part of the solution to Australia’s future energy needs and the challenge of climate change.

Mr Howard says the Government will respond quickly to the report.

“The reality is we won’t have nuclear power stations tomorrow, but over time if we are to have a sensible response we have to include nuclear power,” he said.

“It is foolish and backward-looking and old fashioned of people to say ‘well, we will always oppose the use of nuclear power’.

Mr Howard says nuclear energy is still up to 50 per cent more expensive than other forms of power, but that difference is expected to reduce over time.

He says he would not have any objection to living next door to a nuclear power station.

The Greens say the national report into nuclear energy is a blatant push by the nuclear industry to expand uranium mining.

Senator Milne says the Government is pushing for nuclear reactors because it has done nothing to address global warming.

“What the Prime Minister has done is set up a method to fast-track expanded uranium mining – that’s his number one agenda,” she said.

“He wants to get more uranium on boats out of Australia as quickly as possible into a world that is more and more dangerous as we speak.”
Uranium mining

Mr Howard has asked the states to end bans on uranium mining and exploration.

But the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister has called on Territorians to reject the Commonwealth’s plan to increase the level of uranium mining.

Clare Martin says it is an approach which gives little consideration to where uranium waste will be stored.

“Bully us and put a nuclear waste dump in the Territory … we potentially face a future in the Territory of having low-level, medium-level and even high-level nuclear waste travelling our roads, going on our trains and coming through our port and I think Territorians will find this to a person, unacceptable,” she said.

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