Should Australia Go Nuclear? Welcome Nuclear Waste? Readers Write Back…

HI fellow DR sufferers.
The ideal place for America to store it’s nuclear waste would be in the basement of the Pentagon. An even more suitable location might be in the President’s personal deep bunker beneath the White House.
After all, this stuff is completely harmless right?
Any Australian politician that shows enthusiasm for importing American nuclear waste into Australia, should be forced to store some of it at his/her home for a few decades.
Tony Le Grip,  Melbourne.


Gday Dan,

Long time reader, first time emailer etc etc….

Anyway, you asked how you could carry a tonne of CO2 on your back.  We’ll I  doubt you could because, well, a tonne is pretty heavy.  To put in perspective though, a tonne of CO2 is about 556 cubic meters in size.  Put another way, a tonne of CO2 is about 22% of an Olympic swimming pool.  So  based on your assumption of 10.6 billion tonnes per year, the Chinese would be responsible for 2.4 billion Olympic swimming pools of extra noxious gases floating about in our atmosphere each year.  Whether you believe in global
warming or not, that is a lot of crap to breath in.

Like you, I think Nuclear power is worth looking at for developing countries like China & India.  It is a lot cleaner for sure, but there are other risks.  But it means they can keep up with the massive demand for electricity and it is a technology available now.

However, I’m going to be the devils advocate and say I don’t believe we need nuclear in Australia.  Why do we need it in Australia when we have such a  strong renewable energy base?  Plenty of wind & sun. The house of reps report is lying if it thinks that nuclear is the only way to reduce emissions.  It is clear that nuclear power in Australia will only stack up  if there are penalties for carbon emissions.  If there are penalties for carbon emissions, then renewables are going to be a lot more attractive too and they have even less emissions than nuclear. Even with nuclear power, how  long before we hit peak uranium?

As far as I’m concerned, Australia is the ideal country to push renewable energy.  Why do our best in these fields all go overseas to get research funding or commercialise products?  Why does a country with lots of sun, like Australia, have no solar power generation and countries with hardly any sun, like Germany, have lots?  It is purely a government decision and our government is deciding to follow the existing big money in mining.  One day, maybe not in my life but soon, someone is going to make bucket loads of money from renewable technologies and I for one would like Australia to be that country.  As for your quote about wind manufacturers not being able to  keep up with demand, simple economics say that if people are willing to pay for it, the supply will increase.

As a side note, what about efficiency improvements?  Everyone talks about where our electricity is coming from, not how it is being used.  I think the  era of wasting all our resources is coming to an end.  There are plenty of methods of reducing consumption that make financial sense now and payback easily within 10 years.  Of course most companies only do anything as long  as the IRR is above 20% which is currently limiting uptake.  If carbon emissions were taxed, not only would the clean energy sector improve, but also the energy efficiency sector.  Efficiency improvements, renewable  energy with base loads provided by low emissions fossil fuels is a lofty goal, but a worthy one for a country like Australia.  It is up to us first world countries to take the lead and stop whinging all the time about the  poorer nations.

Keep up the good work at DR,

Kim Kreutz

Hi Dan

No one talks about the amount of energy nuclear energy takes to make it.  Also, nobody knows how to deal with the waste which leaks amongst other things and have had some very close calls.
Speak to Helen Caldercott, she knows.
Diana M.

Despite all the arguments it is a safe bet that, sometime in the future, Australia will be forced go nuclear.

Approaching ninety years of age I have seen so many things, that we were told could never, or would never, happen, happen.

If you look, very deeply, at the way the world has always operated you can only come to the conclusion  that what happens today has been mainly determined by what happened in our yesterdays. Overall we have very little freewill and our yesterdays, combined with our todays, has surely determined our descendants tomorrows.

HI DAN & Cohorts.

Good to see ya down under-I’m up in Brissie. Have been following you guys at Agora-W&G, etc., for about 3 to 4 years now.

Don’t the misinformed Luddites know the emissions composition of coal fired power plants? Well how about we start with URANIUM– more uranium is put into the atmosphere from coal burners than from comparable nuclear power  plants. Let the lazy bastards look up what else is emitted.

Alternative Energy. There is no such one that I know of! ALL, use components that are mined, transported, manufactured, marketed ,delivered and installed  across the entire supply chain utilising energy derived from Fossil fuels at some stage. Whether this is hydro, wave, wind, solar, biofuels etc. Ditto for all the people who are involved, because the mudhut subsistence dwellers are  incapable of achieving this on a national, regional or global scale, or any scale for that matter.

The cargo cultists are alive and well and actually thriving in some parts of the modern world. Neither the future or the past can be the present.  Demanding that the industrial gods(Prometheus & Vulcan ?) shower them with new sources of clean energy with no participation on their own behalf beggars belief.

At present there is only one alternative to nuclear & fossil – no energy  source at all-like wipeout-banzai pipeline wipeout for at least 90% of humans. Unless we burn the cargo cultists first and then get back to energy generation.

Obviously none of these people have ever worked in a producer industry in  their lives. It is almost reminiscient of the last days of the Third Reich-when the Germans were promised uber weapons from the tech maestros by the Ministry of Propaganda.

There are no off the shelf solutions.

Australia owes its present (& future) state of development to its Strategic Alliances(thank you Mr. America & EU). Without these there would be claim jumpers all over the Sunburnt Country.

So to all the Luddites, Cargo Cultists, Channelers, Breatharians, Walter  Mitties, and neo- Neville Chamberlains, please sign up to the ownership society-own an education in the way the world works. If they are looking for the ” Magical Silver Bullet Solution”, I can only hope someone puts one into  them. We are caught up with chicken littles, ostriches and utopians.

What cannot be cured (short term) must be endured. There is no gain without pain.

Do the protagonists understand how far out the curve,clean coal tech. is, or  any other baseload solutions. Ditto for nanotech, wind, solar, PBMT.


The politicians love these people. So, instead of being part of the solution they are only achieving the opposite of what they want-further dithering & complication on the problem side of the equation.

Sometimes I don’t think we have meaningful debates on important issues. As  far as the “chattering classes” go– “There is much to said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” Oscar Wilde.

Hope you all have a happy and holy Christmas.

Regards, Sean M.

Hi Dan,

I used to live in Ukraine and work at a research institute that dealt with the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. We were involved in a  design of nuclear storage facility for low level waste. Despite all the structural material problems/technological/safety issues, there are big advances in material science made in the last 15 years that help in  design of a safe radioactive waste storage facilities.

Fusion reactor design has neared the implementation stage due to those advances. I’m not on the cutting edge of that science any more as I live in Australia now, however, based on the information publicly available  on i-net, I believe that processing of the waste to  reduce it to less radiotoxic and using thorium cycle-based reactors that intrinsically
produce less radio-toxic waste is a way to go to combat the climate changes.

Just imagine Chine and India running coal-fuelled power stations and the red sunset, to get a bit of a reality check for the close future. It is just not possible to generate all that required energy in any other way.  The fusion reactor is still a very remote possibility.


Roman G.

-From Steve Z:

Hi all,

I live in Victoria. Lots of our energy comes from brown coal, an energy source that produces lots of CO2.  Would nuclear be better? I do not know and I am sure I’ll never know! Is it as safe as ‘they’ claim?? The nuclear industry is not known for their truthfulness as far as accidents at nuclear plants are concerned.  When all energy inputs are added up, building the plant, running it, supplying the fuel (mining, transport, etc, etc), building infrastructure, decommissioning etc, etc, how much CO2 input has to be capatilised to compare it with other forms of energy?

And what about the waste? The solution is just around the corner it is pledged, but that has been the case for about 50 years now!! Synrock or gassification were some of the solutions, but I do not hear much about them. Also, the waste produced by the de-commisioned plants,  what about it?

No I don’t think nuclear is the solution. We should put all our energy in population control and conservation. Out with the SUVs, the McMansions and all those energy gobbling instruments.

More over: Stop thinking that GROWTH is THE solution to all our problems.


Hello Dan,

I think the push should be toward more nuclear power. I obviously don’t like  that the byproduct is dangerous to humans & the environment but no system is perfect. What should be the next step is to figure out a good way to clean up the byproduct & then store it in isolated locations in well-built  buildings. Countries which have large desert areas (such as Australia, USA, China, etc) can easily find places where no one lives & where there is no underground water. Also, nuclear technology is safer than before. There are
new pebble-bed reactors that have been designed (in Germany I believe) to be safer & more ecomomical to build. Go nuclear but go safely & as clean as possible!

Jovan from USA
G’day Dan, 

Thanks for your very informative articles, but about the nuclear issue in Australia, I am  appalled at the incredible shortsightedness of some of your correspondents who, bedazzled by the almighty dollar, advocate that we take this waste. I am very much against Australia becoming a nuclear waste repository.

Considering only one aspect of the debate, the idea that we could charge the rest of the world a rental fee in perpetuity, (adjusted for inflation, of course), is utterly ridiculous. How long do you think the payments would continue before the “donor” countries decided not to pay, citing any number of excuses. What would we then do, send a committee of angry politicians to the non-payers demanding that they pay up or else? We would be treated with the scorn with which we would deserve.

Think of the ways in which we are already treated by so many countries when we have an “issue” to settle. The US in trade negotiations, Japan on waling, Indonesia on any number of matters, and even the “mother country” Britain who refuses to pay it’s own citizen’s full pensions and forces Australian taxpayers to make up the shortfall.  This is the way international relations are conducted, because they know they can get away with it when dealing with a small country like ourselves.  It would be no different on this matter. Eventually we would be left with the problem and told to sort it out ourselves, and at our own expense. Unfortunately human nature hasn’t changed.  

Arthur W.
December 7 , 2006

Good morning Dan,

I am one of the older Aussies, they put me into the “AGED CARE” unit of a  large Sydney hospital when I recently had a stroke. It did not affect me greatly apart from some memory loss. Any way I still try to be of some use, I’m probably getting Alzheimer’s disease (or is it dementure, some of my relatives don’t like to think that  one of our parents had Alzheimer’s [ sorry sis meant dementure].

The subject of nuclear waste disposal is probably our most catastrophic problem today.

The space probe sent to Jupiter got caught up in the planet’s gravitational  pull and it’s now history. From the various documentaries I have seen on the “box”, Jupiter ( I think) has a raging storm that we are told has been going for some 300 (million, I believe) years and anything that gets caught up, being too close to this  planet is no more.

I suggest that the USA and other countries producing the nuclear waste set up a space probe and  include a small parcel ( say 2 or 3 kilos) of this deadly waste and aim the rocket to look at Jupiter, attach a camera as  before for further study of the planet.

After some months (let the scientific people decide how long) , providing no apparent problems have occurred with Jupiter, have a second rocket ready with a larger amount of waste and send this on it’s merry way.

Many will probably say I’m a crazy idiot, they are possibly right, but let them come up with a better solution.

When the second rocket has met it’s fate, the decision can then be made as to the possibility of this avenue of disposal.  This method of disposal is going to cost plenty. However, it’s up to us alive today to do something positive to protect our children and planets future.

We may need a year or more before large volumes of the deadly product are  sent the same way, but I have grandchildren as others have here in Australia who want a sane and safe planet to live their life and have children themselves as they wish.

Protection of our endangered wildlife, plants, fish and the oceans is an  urgent priority. If we can send dangerous waste materials to be burnt up by Jupiter or any other planet of a similar nature then we will hopefully be safe in the future. This will largely depend on how much waste can be  exported in the above manner, but I firmly think we should try the initial sendings.

Well Dan, that’s my suggestion for what it’s worth.  Have a great day,

Kind regards,

Col A


Was going to say we could put a few politicians on board as well. However, its not in my makeup to wish bad health or accident on any other fellow human.


Dan Denning

Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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4 Comments on "Should Australia Go Nuclear? Welcome Nuclear Waste? Readers Write Back…"

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Viv. R
The safest thing Australia and the world can do economically, environmentally and strategically is to shift from a carbon economy to a solar economy. The Stern Report calls for low carbon emission technology but a rapid shift to solar with a vastly reduced time scale of carbon trading will address the Stern Report 10 year time slot the quickest way. Uncertainties as to how fast climate change could happen as there is evidence that some time in the past greatly significant climate change happened within a 30-year period should be borne in mind. Solar is the answer and not nuclear… Read more »
Warwick Hunt
Hi folks,most people are still in the yesteryear of old technology and the dangers of uranium/radiation exposure, largely fostered by media supporting those companies etc who wish to see a continuation of the above. The changes in technology, costwise as well as safety, has been nothing less than breathtaking. The use of hydrogen, thorium and even the use of uranium together with the development of pebble type reactors has and will continue to turn the debate on its head and will be embraced by the vast majority of the population, once they get to understand thenew technology. It may not… Read more »
Viv. R
The recent screening of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” should prove to anyone that global warming is happening. And the Stern Report warns we may only have a ten-year time slot left to affectively address the issue. Our government’s response has been to cite clean coal technology having an accompanying carbon dioxide sequestration that may take ten years to prove, and a nuclear path that has terrorist targeted nuclear fuel and facilities likelihood and has an unenforceable safeguards system trying to prevent covert weapons production the only options for base power production in the future. This is absolute rubbish.… Read more »

Does anyone know more about the slither technology for producing solar panels mentioned by Viv. R (11/12/06)?

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