Kevin Scarce warns against ‘overheated’ fears about #nuclear industry

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Nuclear inquiry head says objections to uranium ‘overheated’ http://www.afr.com/news/nuclear-inquiry-head-says-objections-to-uranium-overheated-20151030-gkn2mo
by Simon Evans The former admiral overseeing South Australia’s nuclear inquiry says he is trying to be as straight as possible on what can be a divisive issue, but some concerns about the nuclear industry go too far.

Kevin Scarce, who was appointed by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill this year to investigate if South Australia should go into nuclear enrichment, storage of waste and power generation, says he is on target to deliver preliminary findings by February before a final report by May. He says he is focused on objective evidence and tapping into global expertise, and accepts that many people have passionate views about the nuclear industry.

“Some of those concerns are overheated,” he told AFR Weekend. “I think it’s really important that we investigate all the issues and rely on fact-based evidence.”

 Mr Scarce, who was governor of South Australia for seven years until mid-2014, has taken evidence from more than 60 witnesses. The latest on Friday was Eric Loewen, the chief consulting engineer at United States firm GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Dr Loewen is an expert in the development of the company’s new generation of small, modular nuclear reactors designed to recycle spent nuclear fuel.

He was asked about the approximate costs of the new generation PRISM reactor, and said a United States Department of Energy report had estimated it at about $6 billion.

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“We would describe that cost as very reasonable,” Dr Loewen said.

CLEAN SLATE’

He was also asked his views on whether the technology could be licensed for use in Australia.

“You have a clean slate,” Dr Loewen said. “You have a unique opportunity that you could go in.”

Dr Loewen said in the United States the regulations were very tough because there was only one technology built around water-cooled reactors. He said the United Kingdom had used a different approach, with a variety of different technologies used including gas-cooled, sodium-cooled and water-cooled reactors.

 He said the best approach for Australia was to regulate “in a less proscriptive way”. He likened it to a country setting up the infrastructure and regulatory regime for the very first time to allow commercial airlines to fly in their country. “If they adopt all the safety rules I would feel safe flying in those sort of planes,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this week that Australia should seriously consider getting involved in the nuclear fuel cycle to produce fuel rods, export them, then transport them back to Australia and store them in outback nuclear waste dumps.  http://www.afr.com/news/nuclear-inquiry-head-says-objections-to-uranium-overheated-20151030-gkn2mo#ixzz3q59YYEqo

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