Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Nuclear waste dump?

The Premier of the state I live in wants to have a nuclear waste storage facility in a remote area of the state. Other people don't.
If he could get the numbers in parliament he could legislate for it and bring it in without going to the electorate. He can't. 
It wouldn't get through the upper house here and it would only get through the lower house if everyone did as he expects of them. They might not.
We mine uranium in Downunder. We sell it to other people. They create nuclear waste. 
There is an argument that we create the problem by mining it and selling and therefore should be responsible for the by product as well as the product. I doubt the Premier would agree with that unless he saw a financial advantage in storing the waste. If he was told "you created the problem and you have to pay to solve it" he would be saying, "No way."
His latest idea is that "the people should decide". He wants to put it to a referendum at the next election. This idea only came up after his "citizen's jury" came back with "no, we don't want a dump here".  
It might not get as far as a referendum. Parliament would have to vote to spend the money. Public opinion is against the idea.
Of course, if nuclear power is to be used - and it will be - then the waste has to be stored somewhere. It also has to be stored safely.  That is an issue which has to be worked on. And of course we would all want the benefits of nuclear medicine if it was going to help us recover from a dreadful illness.
The Premier knows the state needs money. The last time I looked we had the highest unemployment rate in the country. The state is in desperate need of a financial booster shot. The waste dump would bring in money, a lot of money. It looks like the easy option. It is money for almost no effort at all.
The ideas that it would put an area off limits - perhaps for ever - and possibly cause massive damage if something went wrong seem to have been forgotten. The waste would also have to be transported and that is perhaps the most dangerous thing of all. It is time to bury the idea of a nuclear waste dump.

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