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    Great program last night go Uranium ! :)


    Who's Afraid of Nuclear Power?
    Reporter: Jonathan Holmes

    Broadcast: 22/08/2005

    Almost daily, the barrackers for nuclear power notch up a small new victory. With each gloomy media mention about global warming or fossil fuels, the nuclear industry can boast: We’ve got the clean answer.

    It’s still a hard case to sell to Australians who, after all, have long enjoyed a massive abundance of cheap coal and who last seriously thought about going nuclear 35 years ago.

    But there’s no dodging the issue any more. Australia is a notorious greenhouse polluter because of its coal addiction. It owns some of the world’s greatest uranium reserves and is poised to expand its sales to other countries, fuelling their economic growth. Now, politicians from both sides of the fence are saying: Let’s bring on a debate about nuclear power at home.

    In the conservation movement - once monolithic in its opposition to anything nuclear – fissures are appearing. Anti-nuclear warrior Peter Garrett argues that going nuclear is a neat but dangerous excuse for ignoring renewable energies like solar and wind. But former Greenpeace leader Paul Gilding praises the nuclear industry for bringing climate change to centre stage.

    Is Australia’s aversion to nuclear power soundly based? Or are there lessons to be learned from other countries’ experience?

    Four Corners examines how Australia squares with Scandinavian nations, which have wrestled with meagre fossil fuel resources, acid rain from their neighbours’ coal-fired power, and the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. The contrast is astounding.

    While Australia derives 80 per cent of its power from coal, half of Sweden’s power is nuclear. Despite vivid memories of Chernobyl, and their close proximity to nuclear reactors dotted through their country, about 80 per cent of Swedes back nuclear power – in fact they show more enthusiasm for it than their own government.

    "i don’t see it as dangerous or as threat... I think it’s clean... It’s safe for the children," locals assure Four Corners reporter Jonathan Holmes about the huge reactors nearby.

    In Finland, which suffered an even greater environmental impact from Chernobyl, authorities have commissioned the first new nuclear reactor in the western world since the 1986 disaster. The French-designed reactor will produce enough electricity to power all of Tasmania.

    Jonathan Holmes finds a stark difference, too, between Australia and the Scandinavians in their approach to disposing of nuclear waste.

    Australia sends the spent fuel from its Lucas Heights reactor to France for reprocessing – but is still arguing about what to do with the residue when it’s returned in six years’ time. Federal, State and Territory governments continue to swap insults over the location of a nuclear "dump".

    Sweden meanwhile is finessing its ambitious plans to bury thousands of cubic metres of high-level nuclear waste in rock repositories 500 metres deep.

    In Australia, coal is king. Jonathan Holmes asks whether the government’s refusal to tax coal for its pollution damage is shackling cleaner alternatives – not just nuclear but renewable technologies too. A mere 0.3 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from wind power; in Denmark, it’s 20 per cent.

    Holmes’s report will provoke, challenge and better inform the new debate on Australia’s energy future.

    "Who's Afraid of Nuclear Power?" – Four Corners, 8.30pm, Monday 22 August, ABC TV.

    This program will be repeated about 11pm Wednesday 24 August; also on ABC2 digital channel at 7pm and 9.15pm Wednesday.

    NB: There will be a Four Corners Broadband Edition of this program available online next week. Check out the website for further details.

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