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Australia’s nuclear future to be debated at conference

A workshop aimed at discussing the pros and cons for an Australian nuclear energy industry will be held in Adelaide.

Organisers say the workshop is intended to explore the opportunities and drawbacks around peaceful use of nuclear power by Australia, and the policy issues involved.

Host of the conference and the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, Ravi Naidu, said he hoped the conference would broaden the national discussion about sources of clean energy.

“As Australia’s leading research partnership committed to a clean environment, we want to ensure that the development of new energy sources does not result in new forms of industrial contamination – and that these are well understood, anticipated and planned for,” Naidu said.

Naidu said Australia’s electricity is currently supplied by coal (74%), gas (15%) and renewables (11%), but that mix could change significantly as global pressure to decrease carbon emissions grows.

“Australia’s political leadership is bound to consider nuclear energy as one option for meeting the nation’s growing energy demands. This one-day workshop brings together both supporters and critics of nuclear energy to discuss its pros and cons in the Australian context,” Naidu said.

The workshop will cover three sessions: the case against nuclear energy in Australia; the case for nuclear energy in Australia; and risk and waste management.

Last week SA Premier Jay Weatherill called for a royal commission into the role the state would play in the nuclear industry.

In the surprise announcement, Weatherill said SA had one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits and had been a major producer of uranium for more than 25 years.

"It is now the time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about SA's future role in the nuclear industry," he said.

"We believe South Australians should be given the opportunity to explore the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries

"We need a clearer understanding about the nature of energy demands around the world and indeed in this country.

"We need to understand the technological advances which are allowing there to be very different offerings in both the nuclear energy space but also solar energy and in wind power, all of these matters will bear on the considerations that South Australians need to make."


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