Direct Action Fund Appeal: The dead end of nuclear power
By Jon Lamb
As leaders of the Western world finger-point and pontificate on this or that way forward to deal with the global climate change crisis, one proposal that keeps rearing its ugly head is the push for more nuclear power generation. With around 40% of the world’s uranium deposits, Australia is a strategic player in the international nuclear industry. Australian based mining consortiums like BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, own and control major mining concessions not just in Australia but across the globe.
Sniffing the potential multi-billion dollar boom, mining companies have steadily increased exploration for new uranium deposits across Australia, as well as continually lobbying state, territory and federal governments for more infrastructure, subsidies and handouts to assist them. In Western Australia alone, some 100 companies are presently involved in the exploration for uranium. It’s not just new deposits that the mining manganates are seeking to develop. On November 18 , BHP Billiton confirmed that it was to re-start work at the Yeelirrie project in Western Australia, two days after Liberal Premier Colin Barnett confirmed the lifting of the ban on uranium mining in WA. Yeelirrie uranium mine, which has been the site of radioactive tailings contamination and opposition from traditional owners since 1972, is shaping-up to be WA’s first functional uranium mine.
In the Northern Territory, Energy Resources Australia (ERA) has made no secret of its desire to develop Jabiluka, one of the world’s largest uranium deposits. ERA’s plans to develop Jabiluka have been put on hold since 1998, due to the staunch resistance of the traditional owners, the Mirrar people, and a coalition of environmental and social justice groups. The campaign to stop Jabiluka uranium mine is not one the mining companies want to see again.
Uranium mining is a deadly, dangerous business and public opposition to it remains strong. It is almost beyond belief, that in the midst of severe drought and intense heat-wave events, that the likes of BHP Billiton can be granted virtually unlimited access to water for the Olympic Dam expansion in the desert country of South Australia. Olympic Dam is expected to consume up to 35 million litres of water a day as part of the ore extraction process.
The push for more uranium mining and nuclear energy generation is not the solution to the global climate crisis. Nuclear power is a dead-end solution. It is a con by the big mining companies, the big engineering firms, the slick public relations firms they hire and their friends in parliament. It is reflective of the near-sighted, irrational and destructive logic of capitalism. If the entire global electricity production was replaced over-night by nuclear energy, there would be less than nine years supply of accessible uranium.
Meeting the energy production needs of all humanity, in an environmentally sustained way, cannot be delivered by the capitalist system. Only a system of rational production of goods and services, redistributed to those who create and provide the goods and services, based on the dramatic conversion of energy production to renewable energy sources can solve the global environmental crisis. To bring such a system – socialism – into existence, requires determined and ongoing campaigning by as many sectors of society as possible. Direct Action is committed to building and supporting such a movement, here in Australia and internationally. To do this we need your help. Please consider making a donation to the DA fund appeal and help us reach our $35,000 target. You can make a donation by sending a cheque or money order to Direct Action, Suite 72, 65 Myrtle Street Chippendale, NSW 2008 or make a donation via PayPal.