THE Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission of South Australia (SA) has released “tentative findings” suggesting the state should expand its nuclear capability.
The report suggests that by expanding the state’s waste storage and disposal facilities it would be able to store 13% (138,000 t) of global fuel waste. The report suggests this will provide 1,500 full-time jobs, and up to 5,000 positions at the peak of its 25-year construction plan.
The project is expected to generate A$257bn (US$184bn) of revenue, with total costs of A$145bn over 120 years.
The commission also suggests that increasing uranium mining and refinement would create further process and manufacturing jobs and commercial opportunities, while providing greater electricity generation for the state’s growing economy.
Kevin Scarce, commissioner of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, said, “We have taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing our tentative findings to share with the community the evidence gathered into nuclear fuel cycle activities because we want South Australians to be involved in further refining, informing and improving the Commission’s report.”
The report has been met with opposition from SA’s environmental groups and the Australian Greens party. Mark Parnell, Greens leader for SA called for the government to oppose the plans for the state to become “the world’s nuclear waste dump.”
“The Commission’s tentative findings on the waste dump are based on dubious economics, heroic assumptions and a big dose of guesswork. The Commission has identified a problem that lasts hundreds of thousands of years and proposed a solution with income that lasts a few decades,” he added in a statement.
The SA government have yet to take a position on the report’s findings, opting to wait until the commission hosts its upcoming public forums on the issue to gauge public opinion.
Jay Weatherill, SA state premier, said to reporters, “I anticipate that for many South Australians, this will understandably be an emotion-charged debate. However it is important that everyone is afforded the opportunity to have their say.”
The commission's final report is due in May.
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