South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission in bed with AREVA – an unwise choice

I would like to think that Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission was fully investigating nuclear industry issues — not just the geewhiz technology that they would be shown in France by AREVA, which is all too cosy with South Australian pro-nuclear politicians and businessmen.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINSA’s Nuclear Royal Commission: All too cosy with failed French nuclear giant AREVA? Just how independent is the SA nuclear review and are opponents being side-lined? Independent Australia 12 June 15, Noel Wauchope looks at just who the Royal Commission met on its recent visit to France.

AT ITS South Australian community forums, South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission head, Kevin Scarce, made a point of the Commission’s independence.  He stressed that the Commission would be meeting overseas proponents, and also opponents, of the nuclear industry.

On the Commission’s website, they list the destinations for the Commission’s overseas tour, now about to wind up. I was struck by the amount of time allocated to conferring with the French nuclear energy corporation, AREVA. I had to wonder — in their discussions with AREVA, it would hardly be necessary to talk with nuclear opponents. I wondered how much AREVA would be going to come clean about what really is going on, in France’s nuclear industry.

AREVA-Medusa1The AREVA connection with Australia is important. AREVA has an office in Wayville, in Adelaide, and has hosted South Australian parliamentary tours of their nuclear industrial facilities in France. AREVA acquired the Northern Territory Koongarra uranium deposit in 1995, but subsequently, in a David and Goliath battle with Aboriginal traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, lost this opportunity, as Lee donated his land to Kakadu National Park.

AREVA is in a joint venture with Toro Energy, in uranium exploration in the Northern Territory. The corporation had been exploring for uranium in Queensland’s  Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012, but recently pulled out altogether. AREVA will probably be making a submission to the Royal Commission. However, the Commission, in publishing submissions, will not be publishing ones that are deemed “commercially sensitive“.

Without doubt, AREVA has a keen commercial interest in Australia. France’s nuclear industry is somewhat embattled, as its fleet of reactors near the end of their shelf life, and the government is pledged to cut down on nuclear power, and develop renewables. The French nuclear industry (like USA’s) depends for its survival, on selling nuclear technology overseas.

But what of the fortunes of AREVA itself?  As the Royal Commission seeks to learn about the commercial viability of the nuclear industry, AREVA is hardly the most reliable authority on that question.

For a start, AREVA now barely exists. Its core business was designing, building and servicing nuclear reactors. As of 3 June this year, the business heart has been torn out. It is now reduced to the mining, enriching, and disposing, of uranium. The state-owned corporation has just been broken up, in a government move to salvage it from bankruptcy. Its core business goes now to state-owned Électricité de France S.A.(EDF). And that’s seen as a poisoned chalice for EDF, too. Their shares plummeted once the salvage deal became known.

News about AREVA, over recent years, has been a litany of mismanagement, legal cases, safety problems,sinking share price, environmental degradation and all sorts otrouble in Africa.  Prominent in AREVA’s and EDF’s woes has been the long drawn out and super-expensive projects at Olkiluoto (Finland)  and at Flamanville (France)  — with designs that are now considered likely to be unsafe.

It is concerning to learn that the Royal Commission is taking an interest in AREVA’s Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) technology, which has been a financial disaster in USA. ………

I would like to think that Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission was fully investigating nuclear industry issues — not just the geewhiz technology that they would be shown in France by AREVA, which is all too cosy with South Australian pro-nuclear politicians and businessmen. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/sas-nuclear-royal-commission-all-too-cosy-with-failed-french-nuclear-giant-areva,7820

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