Nuclear plan's economics slammed
South Australia’s enthusiasm to build a nuclear waste storage facility may be tempered by a new Australia Institute report.
The analysts were contracted by Conservation WA to go through the waste storage proposal that speared in the findings of SA's recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.
“If you get into the waste disposal business in the way proposed at the moment, what you're going to get is a big loss to taxpayers in the short term and the potential, but not certain, benefits in the future,” the Australia Institute’s chief economist Richard Denniss told reporters this week.
“They're based on very optimistic prices that the world will be willing to pay for nuclear waste.
“People ... need to exaggerate the economic benefits of mines in order to convince taxpayers to fund them.
“I'm not anti-mining, I'm anti-propaganda being pushed as economic fact.
“If you spend billions of dollars on this project then that's billions of dollars you won't put into schools, roads, hospitals, transport — it's up to you as residents of SA how you want to invest your money.”
He said there was no plan for if the future waste storage project ran into economic problems.
“The question is what happens to SA if, after stockpiling high-level nuclear waste above ground for 20 years, what happens if the project falls over after you've imported all the waste?”
Nigel McBride of Business SA said the royal commission was not set up for economics.
“We never saw the royal commission as doing a fully costed, comprehensive investigation of the business case for a nuclear repository,” he said.
“Their job was to really to say; ‘On the face of it, could this be viable?’, and their tentative findings were it could be.
“It's really up to industry to then form a view on how this might work, how it might be costed, what the markets are. That's a huge exercise and I think goes well beyond the royal commission.”