OPAL and its predecessor HIFAR are commonly known as research and isotope production reactors operated by ANSTO, but I had not heard about Australia’s third reactor until today. Watch the unprecedented and professional decommissioning of Moata in the video above.
As with every other electrified nation, operation of nuclear power plants has never emitted any carbon dioxide in Australia. But despite not benefiting from actual electrical generation, we do have a legacy of nuclear waste that needs to be addressed, as well as that which has been properly processed by our international partners. In my opinion, and judging by the regulatory standards on display, it is no cause for any sort of alarm. Establishing a centralised repository has unfortunately become one of those aspects of nuclear which struggles against concerted fearmongering, and I think has taken far longer than it should have because of this.
The laudably well-informed Mr Armstrong, interviewed by Bush Telegraph, would welcome this facility on his land. Ben Heard‘s opponent seems to suffer from a curious but often-encountered and persistent paranoia that human capabilities will not improve in even a hundred-year timeframe. There is much cause to expect that they indeed will, and, I wager, beyond whatever we might care to imagine. I suppose some sort of collapse of civilisation might rather hamper our advancement, but that couldn’t be the thinking here, surely.
Even the warnings of toxicity ring hollow. What exceptional risks are we running here, compared to any number of examples of ubiquitous, mundane, and indeed eternally persistent materials – lead, for instance? The BBC’s excellent podcast series illustrates the toll levied by using lead through the ages. We still think nothing of spending a portion of each day within a metre of some highly concentrated, acid-soaked lead and a chamber of exploding petrol. And when things go wrong there, we hardly worry about a leaking battery. The best defense against unnecessary alarm is perspective. And what if the low level radiation from this material in fact poses no danger at all?