Renowned environmental scientist David Suzuki has urged South Australia not to build a nuclear waste dump. This follows after reports came out that the state is planning such a venture after being backed by a royal commission.
Addressing WOMADelaide, the arts festival in Adelaide, Suzuki said humans had the propensity for their own extinction while endowed with the ingenuity to find solutions for serious environmental issues.
The royal panel, in its recommendation, had suggested a nuclear waste storage facility as it will yield billions of dollars in revenue for the state. Incidentally, SA has the highest unemployment rate in the country, reports The ABC.
Suzuki advised the SA government not to host nuclear garbage as the task of storage is squarely the responsibility of the countries producing them. He also urged indigenous people in Australia to react on the issue as they hold the key perspective on the matter. Incidentally, residents’ protests are already brewing near sites identified for dumping the nuclear waste.
At the same time, Suzuki hailed South Australia’s pursuit of renewable energy projects.
“You’re at 40 percent renewable energy now on the way 50 and possibly 60. South Australians should be boasting to the world about what you are doing here,” he said.
The nuclear fuel cycle royal commission was appointed by South Australian premier Jay Weatherill. Its appointment surprised many as SA had been a leader in renewable energy. The prospects for reviving nuclear industry was bleak after uranium production and prices plummeted. This was in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima crisis, which gets their uranium supplies from Australia, said a news report from The Guardian.
The royal panel, led by former state governor Kevin Scarce, examined uranium mining, uranium processing, domestic nuclear power and the storage of high-level radioactive waste as part of its terms of reference.
While ruling out the scope for any uranium industry expansion, the panel identified a big opportunity in hosting international high-level radioactive waste in South Australia.
This is despite the global consensus that radioactive waste is a looming management issue and posed a serious environmental challenge. Many countries, including Finland, had been using high-cost geological burial sites for disposing of nuclear waste.
Critics have warned that seven decades of commercial nuclear power operations have not ushered in a flawless disposal system for nuclear waste. There are many failed projects, timeline delays and massive costs reminding its huge risk, said the report.