Why Not Nuclear?

Doel Nuclear Power Plant Belgium

Dr Don Higson, Nuclear Engineering Panel, Engineers Australia.

Hosted by the South Australia Branch of Australian Nuclear Association in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Physics.

6:30 pm Monday 21st August 2017

Napier 102 Lecture Theatre, first floor, Napier Building, University of Adelaide, North Terrace campus.

Nuclear power is a well-established and mature technology that is particularly suited to providing reliable base-load generation of electricity. It is being used to generate around 11% of the world’s electricity from 447 reactors in 31 countries (21% in OECD countries), with minimal emissions of greenhouse gases, pollution or other environmental damage. A further 59 nuclear power plants are under construction and 164 more are planned, some of them in oil and gas producing nations. Why not in Australia? Don Higson will discuss a number of reasons that have been mooted, viz: cost, proliferation of nuclear weapons, safety of reactors, disposal of waste, environmental effects, abundance of alternatives and limited resources of uranium – and, of course, the legal impediments. Cost is a vital consideration that has yet to be properly evaluated for an Australian application but none of the other factors needs to eliminate the nuclear option from consideration. Fear of radiation stands out as an overriding reason for public and political aversion to nuclear power. This fear is due largely to a lack of proper understanding – even to deliberate misrepresentation – of the biological effects of radiation at the relevant levels.

BIOGRAPHY:Don Higson has a degree and PhD in chemical engineering from Imperial College, London. After working on the development of nuclear submarine propulsion for Rolls-Royce & Associates, he came to Australia to join the Atomic Energy Commission (now ANSTO) in 1964 and specialised in nuclear reactor safety assessment. He has worked as a consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on nuclear safety and nuclear material safeguards. Since his retirement from ANSTO in 1994, he has become a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and Secretary of its Nuclear Engineering Panel, a Fellow and Life Member of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society, a member of the International Nuclear Energy Academy and past Vice President of the Australian Nuclear Association.