It was a pleasure to provide an address to the AGM of the Mid Murray Local Action Planning Committee in Mannum last night. It was a lovely drive up in the late afternoon sun past some very healthy looking wheat crops, though I learned that sadly the Riverland further north-east was turned upside down by a pretty big storm last night.
There were about 20 attendees, mostly local though one guest had driven quite a way to listen which is certainly gratifying.
I delivered an updated version of my original presentation from March, which was also delivered to the Local Government Association State Conference. On reflection that will probably be the last time I give that one, and instead retire it as a useful powerpoint reference for others who would like it. It’s pretty long, and I think I have moved on a bit too much. My audiences are probably better served with the shorter versions, and more extensive question time. That’s all good, I learn something everytime.
I probably won’t pick up many subscribers as many in the audience were not emailers. That being the case I will send a package of hard copy materials for them to keep on hand, distribute, refer to in future.
The presentation appeared to be well received, and I certainly received a number of compliments on it. I was pleased to have this interaction after the presentation:
“So… do we export uranium then?”
“Yes… we are actually one of the major exporters in the whole world”
“But… why don’t we use it?”
“I don’t know.”
“But… why is it ok to send it to other people to use, but so nasty that we can’t use it?”
“I don’t know!”
“But… I am right aren’t I?”
So it would appear that very little can be taken for granted in terms of what people understand about nuclear power.
There was one fairly fiery exchange with the guest who had come from afar, and I am pretty confident she won’t mind me saying that she got on the soapbox, and I in turn got a little pissy!
Most of that discussion was about Olympic Dam and the proposed expansion.
It is probably worth putting on the record at least once that I do not, and I dare say never will, walk around equipped with a full suite of responses to assuage every concern related to the creation of the BIGGEST OPEN CUT MINE THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. Nor should I need to to present a case for the deployment of nuclear power as a response to climate change. A few key points on that:
- People with general concerns on the large range of relevant issues ought take them up with those advocating the use of copper, gold and silver, as well as coming to query me
- I do indeed support the outcome of increased availability of the ore product that serves the only technology in the world that can effectively replace and displace fossil fuels at scale
- The positive impact of that replacement and displacement dwarfs the negative impact of the inputs of fossil fuel to operate the mine
- The “radioactive waste tailings” are less radioactive than they were when they were in the ground as an ore because the uranium has been removed as much as possible.
Other matters like water consumption and disposal, waste containment, indigenous concerns, social impacts… these are eternal issues of open cut mining. I am never an apologist for bad practice in the name of nuclear power, but I have not and will not set out to be an expert in every aspect of open cut mining. It’s mining. It has impacts. That you are reading this on a device that uses both copper and gold means you have a degree of acceptance of this, as I do.
We had a good chat immediately after question time and found we had a great deal of common ground, such as a shared conviction of the risks of climate tipping points and a surprise agreement that the community of Pt Augusta would be far better served by a nuclear plant that the coal plants. So that’s good. My request to her was to delineate her arguments. It would be quite tragic to allow sound arguments and concerns about mining morph into unsound arguments and concerns about our options for power generation. In trying to improve one situation, we could forever lose the fight on the bigger one.
The other issue that came up was the suggestion that I was “naive” regarding my understanding of the management of high level nuclear waste, and that in North America (somewhere) there was a high level waste repository with rusty, bubbling overheated barrels that are needing to be constantly actively managed. It’s the true Holywood image. Can anyone help me there? Is this the case? Where is it and what’s going on? Reality is my friend, I would rather know and understand.
Next week, a new original post, stay tuned as always.