The Dangers of Nuclear Power in Australia

The use of nuclear in Australia might well spell disaster (image by adege via Pixabay).
By Helen Caldicott, Independent Australia, 16 February 2020

Long-time anti-nuclear campaigner and writer Dr Helen Caldicott believes the risks of nuclear power outweigh the benefits.

AS AUSTRALIA grapples with the notion of introducing nuclear power as an energy source, it is imperative that people understand the intricacies of these new technologies including small modular reactors (SMR) and thorium reactors.

There are basically three types of SMRs which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity compared to current 1000 megawatt reactors.

Light water reactors designs – smaller versions of present-day pressurised water reactors – will be built underground but with the same attendant problems as those at Fukushima and Three Mile Island.

They will be mass-produced, so large numbers must be sold yearly to make a profit, and should a safety problem arise like the Boeing Dreamliner plane, they all will have to be shut down interfering substantially with electricity supply.

SMRs will be expensive because the cost of unit capacity increases with decrease in the size of the reactor. To alleviate costs, it is suggested that safety rules be relaxed including reducing security requirements and a reduction in the 10-mile emergency planning zone to 1000 feet.

High-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) or pebble bed reactors

Five billion tiny fuel kernels of high-enriched uranium or plutonium will be encased in tennis-ball-sized graphite spheres which must be made without cracks or imperfections, or else they could lead to an accident. A total of 450,000 such spheres will slowly be released continuously from a fuel silo, passing through the reactor core, and then re-circulated ten times. These reactors will be cooled by helium gas operating at high very temperatures (900 C).

The plans are to construct a reactor complex consisting of four HTGR modules located underground to be run by only two operators in a central control room. It is claimed that HTGRs will be so safe that a containment building will be unnecessary and operators can even leave the site – “walk away safe” reactors.

However, should temperatures unexpectedly exceed 1600 degrees, the carbon coating will release dangerous radioactive isotopes into the helium gas, and at 2000 degrees, the carbon would ignite creating a fierce graphite Chernobyl-type fire.

If a crack develops in the piping or building, radioactive helium would escape and air would rush in igniting the graphite.

Although HTGRs produce small amounts of low-level waste, they create larger volumes of high-level waste than conventional reactors.

Liquid metal fast reactors (PRISM)

It is claimed by the proponents that fast reactors will be safe, economically competitive, proliferation-resistant and sustainable.

They are to be fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and cooled by either liquid sodium or a lead-bismuth molten coolant creating a potentially explosive situation. Liquid sodium burns or explodes when exposed to air or water and lead-bismuth is extremely corrosive producing very volatile radioactive elements when irradiated.

There are two types of fast reactors: a simple plutonium fueled reactor and a “breeder”.  The plutonium reactor core can be surrounded by a blanket of uranium 238, the uranium captures neutrons and converts to plutonium creating ever more plutonium.

Three small plutonium fast reactors will be arranged together forming a module. Three of these modules will be buried underground and all nine reactors will connect to a fully automated central control room.

Only three reactor operators situated in one control room will be in control of nine reactors. Potentially, one operator could simultaneously face a catastrophic situation triggered by the loss of offsite power to one unit at full power, in another shut down for refuelling and in one in start-up mode. There is to be no emergency core cooling systems.

Fast reactors will require a massive infrastructure including a reprocessing plant to dissolve radioactive waste fuel rods in nitric acid, chemically removing the plutonium and a fuel fabrication facility to create new fuel rods. A total of 15,000 to 25,000 kilos of plutonium are required to operate a fuel cycle at a fast reactor and just 2.5 kilos is fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Thorium reactors   

Thorium itself is not a naturally fissionable material and requires a two-step process to produce fissionable fuel. It is mixed with either 20% enriched uranium 235 or plutonium, to initiate the process to produce fissionable uranium 233. Uranium 233, like plutonium, is fuel for nuclear weapons.

Thorium reactors also produces uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter which can penetrate one meter of concrete, making the handling of spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, however, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste from traditional reactors, including many dangerous isotopes with extremely long half-lives. Technetium 99 has a half-life of 300,000 years and iodine 129 a half-life of 15.7 million years.

Originally published:,13597

2 thoughts on “The Dangers of Nuclear Power in Australia”

  1. Thank you Dr Caldicott for your incredible bravery and for your crucially important information article here. Thank you very much indeed.
    I posted this comment on Reignite Democracy Australia about ‘green energy ” and thought I would like to post it here >
    The people should be very grateful for your article giving them the truth about this “green energy con” and it must be stopped – it’s absolutely insane how Globalists/corporate masters/ treacherous Politicians have destroyed so much of our world as we once knew it. And through the fraudulent Pandemic Scamdemic the globalists added massive fortunes to their already massive fortunes whilst so many lost Jobs homes lives and The damage and destruction and deaths from the Clot Shot jab injections and no Mandates should ever have been enacted especially so with the entire system corrupted with systemic and extensive conflicts of interest.
    In 2021 we all noticed Price rises in everything and I mean everything it’s got to stop !! – food prices, petrol, toxic neurotoxic and carcinogenic fluoridated water supplies already costing the people a fortune !! Both in cost and Harm to Long term health ! shocking and even a council rates rise in July 2021 and now another rise in July 2022.

    The poor homeless people, the rent crisis and the rent increases, the loan interest increase and the destruction of so many small businesses All part of the monstrous Globalist Build Back Better Deadly Con it’s not build back better it’s Globalists/ Elites and Their treacherous treasonous political accomplices/ Totalitarian Lunatics Regimes taking control of OUR WORLD.
    The World Economic Forum / Globalists/ WHO et al have Infiltrated most Democratic Countries’ Parliaments and this has to be addressed before full throttle Totalitarianism is here permanently.
    As well as the Covid Plandemic Scamdemic corona virus is the common cold, they will like in America interfere with food supply, surprise they’re already doing this too.
    Electricity prices Up and the mob we’re with killed our pensioner discount. They continue over time to keep reducing the feed in tariff and in 2028 I believe it is ALL feed in tariffs will be killed.
    GREEN ENERGY is another globalist scam which is going to cost the population so much.
    This is all part of the global total takeover of democratic countries by globalists/ World Economic Forum / World Health Organisation / UN et al and the treacherous treasonous politicians who are salivating at their Tyrannical Power.
    Only the people globally can stop this happening to arise in peace and love for what once was our beautiful free countries.
    I am confident that there is a lot of wonderful honorable Law Enforcement Officers who don’t like what’s been happening and they and their children and grandchildren and so on and extended families and friends, surely also would not want to live under Tyrannical Government Totalitarian Regimes controlling EVERY Aspect of our what will be totally miserable lives.
    We want our democratic country back, our full freedoms rights and choices and to live our lives in peace love honour kindness respect for everyone and everything and do not allow the destruction of it.





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