South Australia’s future role in the nuclear industry, The Saturday Paper, 8 Aug 15 PHILIP DORLING“……..Perhaps the most interesting twist in these proceedings, however, has been the role of South Australian Liberal senator Sean Edwards, who in April outlined a radical plan for an integrated nuclear industry embracing nuclear waste storage and recycling, fuel fabrication and power production.
Edwards has demonstrated a sustained interest in nuclear issues since he entered federal parliament in 2011.
He argues that East Asian countries could pay up to $1 million a tonne to send used fuel rods to South Australia for storage. By using a new form of reactor, an integral fast reactor (specifically the power reactor innovative small module – PRISM – design proposed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy), 95 per cent of the energy could be extracted from the rods, with electricity generation as a byproduct.
“We could end up with zero or low-cost power,’’ Edwards told The Sydney Institute in April. “It could revitalise the industrial sector in South Australia. The more you reprocess, the more electricity you have to get rid of.”
After consultation with a group of pro-nuclear advocates and technical experts, Edwards has submitted an as-yet-unpublished 213-page submission to the royal commission, arguing that South Australia can take advantage of the “under-serviced market for the management of used nuclear fuel. Several nations are holding quarantined budgets in the tens of billions of dollars with no satisfactory pathway to discharge responsibility for this material”.
Edwards’ submission proposes the establishment of a multinational spent fuel storage installation, an industrial pilot-scale fuel recycling and fabrication facility, a new “fourth generation” fast-breeder reactor, and deep borehole disposal of short-lived waste products.
Substantially funded by foreign investment, Edwards estimates the project could deliver $28 billion to South Australia, including very low-cost, even free, electricity for the state.
During the past 18 months, Edwards has also engaged in discussions with the nuclear industries in several Asian countries, which he says have expressed “considerable interest”. He is currently not prepared to identify the countries involved, but The Saturday Paper has established they include South Korea and Japan.
Edwards has also briefed Abbott, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Trade Minister Andrew Robb.
It remains to be seen whether Edwards’ scheme stands critical scrutiny from the royal commission and wider debate. There are already plenty of critics. The Australian Greens have expressed strong opposition to the entire royal commission process, so too has veteran anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott. Nuclear researcher Richard Leaver, formerly of Flinders University, points out that no so-called fourth-generation reactors have been built and they are not expected to be available for commercial construction before 2030-40. ……..https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/08/08/south-australias-future-role-the-nuclear-industry/14389560002222