Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leave that fucking shit in the ground


March 30, 2007 - International nuclear expert is visiting Canberra this week to warn Australians about the dangerous impact of the waste produced by uranium mining. Kevin Kamps, from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, says the waste produced by uranium mines in the US has had a great impact on the community.

Mr Kamps says the search for storage sites for nuclear waste often targets the living areas of traditional inhabitants.

"It's having some of the greatest public health and environmental impacts because of the carelessness with which it's disposed of," he said...
"So it's just dumped on the surface and it blows with the wind and it flows with the water and that is unfortunately the state of practice with uranium mining."

Washington-based Kevin Kamps, who is on a national tour with the Wilderness Society, said the public's primary concern should be where the governments planned to store nuclear waste.

He said US experience showed reactors, generally located near cities, had been forced to store toxic waste while the argument of where to build a national dump continued.

Mr Kamps also says the search for storage sites for nuclear waste often targets the living areas of traditional inhabitants.

Last year the Australian federal Government passed legislation that could mean a nuclear waste facility will go ahead at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory, even though only some of the traditional owners agreed.

Mr Kamps says a similar situation occurred in the US state of Nevada.

"One of the parallels that is very apparent is that often times it's politically vulnerable locations and even Indigenous people's lands that are targeted for these waste dumps," he said. "So that same environmental injustice seems to be at play here in Australia with the proposed Commonwealth dump in the Northern Territory, again on the land of traditional owners."

NIRS reports that nuclear power stations are a sunset industry. Despite so-far hollow nuclear industry claims of a "resurgence," the reality is that the world’s nuclear reactors continue to decline in number.

In the largest single-day shutdown in history, seven commercial atomic reactors closed permanently on December 31, 2006. These included Kozloduy in Bulgaria; Bohunice in Slovakia; and Dungeness, Sizewell in the United Kingdom.

American nuclear reactors produced up to 30 metric tonnes of waste each year, which posed serious health and environmental risks, he said.

"Nuclear power is still a very contentious issue in the US with most people asking where do we put the waste," he said. "If reactors are built, they will serve as waste storage sites for many years in the future and there is a massive risk for accidents."

Mr Kamps pointed to the Yucca Mountain proposed dump in Nevada that had now been delayed as a groundswell of opposition grew. He said nearby residents and environmentalists did not want the dump because of the site's location on a fault line, near drinking water supplies and on volcanic land. He argued that the same problem would happen in Australia if nuclear energy was developed.

Last month the South Australian city of Port Augusta, north of Adelaide, was named the most likely location for Australia's first nuclear power plant by The Australia Institute thinktank.

Mr Kamps dismissed the argument put by Prime Minister John Howard that nuclear energy was needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by coal. "The creation of a nuclear power industry to decrease emissions trades one ecological disaster for another," he said.

Despite the misinformation campaign by the nuclear industry, nuclear power is not a carbon-free technology.

Only the reactors themselves are carbon-neutral. But the rest of the nuclear fuel chain (including mining of uranium, milling, processing and enrichment of uranium, construction of reactors and other necessary major nuclear facilities, and radioactive waste storage) results in significant release of carbon.

To the extent that nuclear reactors would directly replace existing coal plants, modest carbon reductions would occur; to the extent that new reactors would represent new capacity—the result would be an increase in greenhouse gases, not a decrease. Nuclear power is far more costly than most other alternatives, especially when the full cost of the entire nuclear fuel chain is considered.

NRIS reports that spending the levels of resources necessary to build dozens of new reactors, not to mention thousands, would result in insufficient resources to deploy essentially carbon-free technologies and thus would prevent the world from achieving the level of greenhouse gas emissions cuts now widely regarded as necessary (about 80% cut by mid-century).

Mr Kamps says in the the US the nuclear energy industry is propped up by billion-dollar government subsidies and renewable energy industries such as wind power are growing quickly.

"Wind is the fastest growing new source of electricity in the United States," he said. "You can put up wind turbines in a matter of months, where it takes years and years [for a nuclear reactor], the last built reactor in the United States cost $7 billion and took 23 years to build and we need to act in the near term to address the climate crisis - we can't wait for nuclear power."

At best, construction of 2-3,000 new reactors would result in emissions reductions of around 20%, but would require capital costs of $4-8 trillion or more. Far greater emissions reductions could be obtained by using our resources to fully develop and deploy more advanced and sustainable technologies.

However, the world is unlikely to be able to provide enough resources to implement large-scale nuclear and the more sustainable technologies.

SOURCES:
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Campaigner warns against uranium mining - ABC
Alternatives to Nuclear
Wikipedia: Nuclear_Information_and_Resource_Service
Reactors to become 'nuclear storage sites' - News Ltd
US waste specialist warns against nuclear energy - ABC News

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't quite get Kemp's qualifications, did you? As a so-called expert, what is he - a nuclear physicist or something?

No, he isn't. Why don't you check his background first before you rave on? He's no more an expert than you or me or the guy next door.

XXX said...

His name is Kevin Kamps.

Not Kemp.

I don't know about your anonymous self or my own next door neighbour - who incidently is a Taxi Driver - but Kevin Kamps is not a nuclear physicist.

Who said he is? I certainly did not state he was a nuclear physicist.

You can read about his background via the Sources provided above...

But just for the sake of it:

He is a Nuclear Waste expert. He represents the "Nuclear Information and Resource Service & World Information Service on Energy"

NIRS/WISE is the information and networking center for citizens and environmental organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation, and sustainable energy issues.

Kevin Kamps is the lead high-level nuclear waste specialist, particularly on government and industry efforts to dump nuclear waste on Skull Valley Goshute Indian land in Utah and on Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

He is an expert on the risks of radioactive waste generation and storage at reactor sites, as well as transportation.

But nowhere does he claim to be a "physicist."

Cheers
Elliot