Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nuclear debate not all hot air: some is radioactive

Two weeks ago John Howard declared that Australia must have a debate on nuclear power. A couple of days later he announced a feasibility study into nuclear power. Then radioactive gas escaped from the Lucas Heights reactor days later. What bad timing for him: :::[SMH]

The accident occurred on Thursday [last week] about 7pm. An internal email from the chief of operations, Ron Cameron, says "a small amount of radioactive noble gases (xenon and krypton) was released through the stack" but this posed no danger.

Accidents happen, I can accept that. A worker was found to be contaminated but got the scrub-down, and I am glad that Lucas Heights just produces isotopes for medicine and not energy. What I can't accept is that it took six days before this was public knowledge.

Sure, the timing of the incident was bad for the Government's political nuclear push, but by not shouldering the responsibility of informing the public immediately the Government loses credibility as responsible participants in the debate. It took the Soviet authorities two days to inform their public about the Chernobyl accident and, granted, we are comparing apples with oranges but any pro-nuclear party seeking plausibility needs to engender confidence they will act in the public interest over political expediency when dealing with any nuclear crises, great or small.
Other posts on the nuclear debate in Australia:
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