Draft Terms of Reference for a Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Nuclear Power

Read my draft terms of reference for a Senate Select Committee inquiry into nuclear power:

a. Nuclear research, the nuclear fuel cycle, and economic issues

(i) The state of nuclear energy research and development in Australia and internationally, and the capacity for Australia to benefit domestically through the uptake of existing nuclear reactor technologies, or from new and emerging nuclear reactor technologies;

(ii) The potential for Australia to participate further in other steps of the nuclear fuel cycle, such as fabrication, fuel enrichment, reprocessing, mining and exporting uranium and other fuels, the costs and benefits associated with each step of the fuel cycle, and the feasibility of expanding existing mining, processing and manufacturing processes to meet domestic requirements;

(iii) The feasibility of establishing and operating new generation reactor facilities to generate electricity from nuclear fuels in Australia, the circumstances necessary for that to occur and to be viable, the relative advantages and disadvantages of generating electricity in this manner and comparisons to existing traditional methods of electricity generation in Australia, and any implications electricity generated by nuclear would have for the national electricity market; and

(iv) The benefits to the national economy if a nuclear industry were to be developed domestically.

b. Environment issues

(i) The extent to which existing electricity generation sources contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions throughout their entire cycles;

(ii) The extent to which nuclear energy generators contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions throughout their entire cycle;

(iii) The extent to which the use of nuclear energy could make a contribution towards Australia meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; and

(iv) The extent to which nuclear energy could contribute or add value to the mix of other energy technologies in Australia.

c. Health, safety, and proliferation issues

(i) The waste processing and storage issues associated with by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle, the current world’s best practice, and the potential of Generation III/III+/IV reactor technologies to meet safety, waste and proliferation concerns;

(ii) The security implications relating to nuclear energy;

(iii) Possible health and safety implications relating to nuclear energy.