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Aussie MP Calls for Nuclear Rethink

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A Liberal MP has renewed his push for serious consideration of nuclear power generation in Australia, arguing the risks are overstated and disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima can be avoided with modern technology and safety standards.

In an article for the journal Energy News state MP for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea, says nuclear energy is a “proven supplier of secure, affordable base load power” and the issue of nuclear waste is “manageable”.

“It makes no sense for governments to arbitrarily rule out any form of power generation,” he writes. “Yet that is exactly what we are doing to nuclear energy which is relied upon around the world to safely and effectively generate base load electricity.”

Mr O’Dea says carbon dioxide from burning coal and natural gas is “undoubtedly contributing to damage to our oceans and atmosphere” but renewables face “substantial technological and logistical challenges” to provide base load energy.

Backup systems on modern nuclear reactors make “the probability of disaster extremely small”.

“To be clear, I am not advocating for nuclear technology,” he says. “I am advocating a discussion, starting with and facilitated by overdue state and federal legislative reviews. This would enable broad, opened, reasoned and pragmatic investigation and discussion of nuclear power generation”. Mr O’Dea is chairman of the NSW Public Accounts Committee which last November called on the state government to promote public discussion of nuclear power.

The government responded by saying it “supports ongoing community discussion on all forms of energy generation” but ruled out changing laws which ban construction of nuclear reactors for power generation in NSW.

The comments come as Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher prepares to announce which mining companies will be invited to apply for uranium exploration licences in NSW following last year’s lifting of a 26-year ban. The ban on exploration has prevented a clear understanding of potential uranium deposits in NSW but the government says it is aware they may exist around Broken Hill.

Premier Barry O’Farrell has said that despite lifting the ban the government is “not about to rush into uranium mining”.

However, last year the Nationals MP for Murray-Darling, John Williams, told Broken Hill’s Barrier Daily Truth newspaper he believed a shift to uranium mining was “where the market was probably heading”.

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