Nuclear Royal Commission relied on biased economic evidence


“Such a dump could easily lose money instead of being a bonanza.”

Critics argue Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission skewed by advocacy group’s evidence, ABC 3 Nov 16  by Stephen Long  “…….Claims that building a radioactive waste dump would give a massive boost to the South Australian economy rely on a report co-authored by members of an advocacy group for international nuclear storage “solutions”.

A royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle has urged South Australia to develop a facility for the disposal of international used nuclear fuel and waste, arguing it could provide “significant and enduring economic benefits to the South Australian community”.

It based its finding on a “viability analysis” conducted for the commission that found that a nuclear waste dump could “generate more than $100 billion income in excess of expenditure” over the life of the project, or a $51 billion benefit in today’s dollars.

That analysis was co-authored by Charles McCombie and Mr Neil Chapman, the president and vice president of ARIUS, the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage. The association’s role is to “promote concepts … for storage and disposal of long-lived radioactive wastes” and to “act as an advocate for international and regional storage and disposal options”.

Its motto is: “The world needs nuclear power — nuclear power needs multinational facilities”.

As well as co-authoring the viability analysis, Dr McCombie and Mr Chapman wrote the safety analysis that the royal commission relied upon.

Advocates’ advice tainted analysis: critics

Critics argue that using leading members of an advocacy group to assess the viability and economic benefits of building a nuclear waste dump gives rise to a clear conflict of interest and taints the analysis.

“I think it is really disappointing and I think Australians should be asking fundamental questions about the independence of the economic analysis on which this entire case, on which this entire royal commission, rests,” Barbara Pocock, an economist and research professor at the University of South Australia, told the ABC.

Professor Pocock, who is a member of Mothers for a Sustainable South Australia, said the royal commission appeared to rely entirely on the “viability analysis” for its recommendation of a nuclear waste facility.

“All the economists who have replied to the analysis in that report have been critical of the fact that it is a ‘one quote’ situation.

“We haven’t got a critical analysis, we haven’t got a peer review of the analysis, which appears to have come from an interested source,” she said……..

Its modelling assumes that South Australia will receive $1.75 million per tonne for taking spent nuclear fuel and intermediate radioactive waste and command half the available market, though it says it would still be viable with a lower price and market share.

Critics describe the price forecasts as heroic, and the assumption that the forecast price would not bring rival facilities into market as puzzling.

“The forecast profitability of the proposed nuclear dump rests on highly optimistic assumptions,” Richard Blandy, professor of economics at the University of Adelaide, told the citizens’ jury last week.

“Such a dump could easily lose money instead of being a bonanza.”………


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