The legal black hole of nuclear

Fiona Colin, Melbourne, Jun 17, 2024

Ernst Willheim (17/6) asks the legal questions about nuclear: State rights, liability, safeguards and insurance. He concludes: “It is not clear that the Opposition has addressed any of these issues”.

Shadow energy minister Ted O’Brien has travelled to Canada and Britain to check out small modular reactors, but appears to have spoken only to nuclear unnamed “nuclear experts” – promoters, not lawyers. Given the exceptional regulatory requirements for nuclear, can the Coalition detail its legally-binding ‘road map’ for the planning, building, maintenance, decommissioning and waste storage of nuclear plants?

Technological innovation can be expected over the next decades, and the complexity of nuclear is in a class of its own: “An offshore wind energy developer”…”can easily re-engineer its design or manufacturing process to use a different grade of steel, source its steel from a different producer, or tweak the design of its massive turbine blades to more efficiently capture the energy of the wind.

Nuclear vendors, however, cannot take similar actions without complicated license amendments and certification processes that can drag on for many years, even for relatively small changes”. (Foreign policy, 12/23)

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