I lived in Prospect for several years, and never really knew how to feel about these signs. I searched up a related council document and frankly wasn’t surprised to find it devoid of specific information, and more than a little self-contradictory.
2.8 Since it is impossible to live in a zone which it totally free of natural radiation, the declaration “Nuclear Free Zone” is not scientifically correct. A similar effect could be gained if the suggested title “Nuclear Safe Zone” were used.
The declaration of Nuclear Free Zone by Council and the erection of signs have limited legal significance, however, they are an important public statement of the view of the Council and its community, indicating that they are against any harmful effects which may occur to the environment through any radioactive substance.
As it is not possible for a zone to be totally nuclear free, it would be prudent to declare zones “nuclear safe”.
I can completely agree with that – who would honestly intend for their city to be nuclear unsafe? The problem is of course the utterly unnecessary conflation of nuclear energy with nuclear weapons. It is part of the habitual Australian attitude which makes nuclear discussion so difficult, and we should expect better from well-resourced councils who ostensibly hold the public’s best interests foremost. The policy position is also nearly 20 years old – it’s high time to reassess the dangers of radiation. Removing the paranoia surrounding ionising radiation, the misapprehension that modern reactors can produce material for bombs or that construction is capital- and time-prohibitive, as well as the very valid concerns of proper operation, maintenance and safety, plus safeguards and liability, are major parts of the necessary, mature discussion.
Today Business SA called publicly for the development of what would be a nuclear sector in South Australia, in the context of a looming state election and the near future curtailment of substantial manufacturing activity. This was alongside serious issues of energy security, with due consideration of the significant role of wind and solar PV capacity, all of which I agree needs to be robustly discussed and acted upon. A tweet from SACOME underpinned one vital aspect:
It’s time for an informed debate based on facts & science in SA & for the Federal Govt to consider lifting the ban on a nuclear industry
— SACOME (@Mining_EnergySA) February 6, 2014
In addition, Energy Policy Institute of Australia‘s second submission to the federal Energy Policy White Paper is absolutely blunt about the need for sober consideration of nuclear in the energy mix, and that the work of securing energy for the future must be bipartisan, apolitical, consultative and transparent.
I remember waking up this morning and thinking that there hadn’t been any big nuclear news for a while. I’ve always liked surprises. However, I knew that 2014 would be the year when we really start rejecting the distractions and start properly talking this through.