Sunday, June 08, 2003

Disposing of the waste

The prospect of Ken Shirley putting his money where his mouth is and offering his backyard as a radioactive waste burial site is amusing, but I'm sure that he'd just whine about the Resource Management Act. Imagine, the thought that you might actually have to tell your neighbours before doing something that might affect them! It's practically communist!

Pokes at ACT's absolutist stance on (their) property rights aside, I'm actually in favour of nuclear power.... somewhere else. It's not renewable, but under the present circumstances it is IMHO marginally the lesser of two evils when compared to coal. Radioactive waste? That's what places like the Australian outback and Nevada are for, and provided you don't do something stupid like sticking your waste dump over an aquifer or on a dormant volcano, it's reasonably safe. Safety? The French example shows that it can be done right; the important thing is not to let your power plant be run by a (US) corporation intent on maximising profits by minismising (safety) costs - or a bunch of slackards who ignore repeated problems.

That said, Mike's arguments still hold water. New Zealand is far too tectonically active for us to take the risk. Importing fuel and exporting waste is madness. We're far better off with a mix of wind and hydro, with thermal generation for peak loads. If the Americans want to burn Uranium instead of coal and gas, I'm all for it, but it's something we should never consider here.