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Australia Power

Dump World's Nuclear Waste In Australia, Says Ex-PM Hawke 213

mdsolar writes: "[Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said] Australia bore a responsibility to assist with the safe disposal of radioactive waste, given the ample space the country possesses. 'If Australia has – as we do – the safest remote locations for storing the world's nuclear waste, we have a responsibility to make those sites available for this purpose,' he said. Hawke based this conclusion on a 25-year-old report made by Ralph Slayter, whom the former prime minister appointed as Australia's first chief scientist back in 1989. According to Slayter's report, some of the remote reaches of the Northern Territory and Western Australia could provide apt dumping grounds for radioactive waste."
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Dump World's Nuclear Waste In Australia, Says Ex-PM Hawke

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  • Mutants! (Score:5, Funny)

    by burisch_research ( 1095299 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:13AM (#47074055)

    Radioactive waste + the majority of the world's most dangerous species = ... ? Godzilla? Hundred metre diameter spiders? Snakes the size of the great wall of China?

    • Re:Mutants! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kylemonger ( 686302 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:25AM (#47074155)
      In the face of hard radiation life gets smaller, not larger. Expect really hardy bacteria, not giant reptiles.
    • yawn, let me know when mothera shows up
    • Re:Mutants! (Score:5, Funny)

      by stewsters ( 1406737 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:30AM (#47074189)
      Do you want Mothra? Because that's how you get Mothra.
    • Radioactive waste + the majority of the world's most dangerous species = ... ? Godzilla? Hundred metre diameter spiders? Snakes the size of the great wall of China?

      Kangaroos which can hop between Australia & Papau New Guinea? How will we ever contain them from spreading to Indonesia and beyond? Help us Godzilla, you're our only hope!

    • Australian animals aren't dangerous, just scary. More Australians are killed in horseback riding accidents per year (~30) than are killed by wild animals (~10).

      • Please stop ruining my belief in Australian monster-animals.

        I'm certain that countless Aussies are killed every year by giant spiders, poison snails, jumbo stingrays, vicious jellyfish and rampaging emu.

      • When it comes to highly poisonous snakes, I think scared (or at least cautious) is a perfectly rational response. While it's true that few die from snakebites each year, I'm sure that's due in large part to Aussies not being stupid around snakes. I suspect that any idiot dumb enough to start fucking around with a brown snake will learn the hard way that there is indeed more to fear than fear itself.

      • Australian animals aren't dangerous, just scary. More Australians are killed in horseback riding accidents per year (~30) than are killed by wild animals (~10).

        Australians are just knowledgeable enough to stay the fuck away from them, that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.

        Box jellies, blue ring octopus and a snake whose toxin is especially nasty to primates. Me, I stay away from Aussie, its obvious that it never wanted humans in the first place!

    • Good gods, Australia would be overrun with deadly monsters. ...

      oh wait

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I thought they were planning to use it to kill off the drop bears and cane toads.
    • As our limited experiences with radiation has shown, you don't get:

      * monsters
      * superpowers
      * aliens

      You just get dead, mostly. Then after that, not much.

  • by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:16AM (#47074073)
    Australia sees that the 'waste' is actually >95% fertile material, i.e. fissionable FUEL.

    "Yes, yes, we will take all of your...waste...all your energy are belong to us!"
  • Heh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:18AM (#47074093)
    I don't think I want to leave the world's nuclear problem On The Beach...
  • And spawn a bunch of giant mutant kangaroos? DON'T THINK SO!

  • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:24AM (#47074139) Journal

    While having a remote storage location is iseal for minimizing fallout risks, having an area that is sparsely seen y people can have security risks. It may be prone to terrorist type invasions, looking for dirty bomb material. I'm still not sure why a Nevada military type storage facility at Yucca mountain was blocked. - Guess NIMBY applies, even if your nearest neighbor is 200 miles away.

    • by novium ( 1680776 )

      Nevada's got a fair number of fault lines. I know there was a lot of politics involved in Yucca mountain, but I do know that there are a number of real concerns in regards to fault lines and similar.

      • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:47AM (#47074289)

        Nevada's got a fair number of fault lines. I know there was a lot of politics involved in Yucca mountain, but I do know that there are a number of real concerns in regards to fault lines and similar.

        Real concerns? No...

        There was a fault line discovered after the site was built. But it did not run under the storage facility. It an under a nearby area where waste was supposed to cool before storage. They moved this cooling area to avoid the fault line. There are earthquakes in the area, there are everywhere... Also keep in mind, the size of the seismic activity needed to harm the facility in any way would have to be so large that any hazardous waste leak that resulted from it would be more of an afterthought compared to the destruction from the quake itself.

        • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @11:04AM (#47074399) Homepage

          Also keep in mind, the size of the seismic activity needed to harm the facility in any way would have to be so large that any hazardous waste leak that resulted from it would be more of an afterthought compared to the destruction from the quake itself.

          Destruction of what? The whole idea is to site a nuclear waste dump in the middle of nowhere. What would a local earthquake damage? Some mountains in the middle of a remote desert?

          Possible leakage of stored waste would seem to be far more of a potential problem than toppling cactus and shifting rocks around.

          • He's saying a quake big enough to damage 10's of feet of re-enforced concrete would probably be big enough to be felt well outside the local area.

    • If I remember correctly the NIMBY complaints at Yucca mountain were from the towns along the route that the spent fuel would have to be transported through. It was stupid that they terminated it due to that pressure after so many studies showed it was the perfect location.

    • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @11:42AM (#47074637) Homepage

      I would call sparsely populated a significant security advantage. Post proper signage and you don't have to supply much doubt than any unauthorized person in the vicinity is up to no good. None of the fake delivery guy nonsense that works in the movies. You stand a good chance of intercepting the hostiles before they even are close enough to see the facility.

      As any bank robber can tell you, the most important part of the operation is the getaway. Walking in and taking what you want at gunpoint is comparatively easy. The next step is to get out of there and lose the authorities by getting to where you can hide and blend in. When the getaway involves hundreds of miles of empty single access road? You're screwed. No criminal or terrorist force is going to come close to matching what the government can dish out for firepower. Their only hope is to get away before the government can mobilize, which, in this case, they have plenty of time to do.

      Also, I believe these contaminants are buried deep underground. That's foolproof security. A lock can be picked to bypass having to use the official key. When the security mechanism is a million tonnes of rock there is no shortcut, the terrorists are stuck using the exact same equipment and accessways as everyone else to extract the waste.

      The final step is to get the radioactive waste to the target, which is a population area. Terrorists might not care what population area it is, which means by storing it near *any* population area you have saved them the trouble of doing any work to get it to its target. Having access to it for just a few minutes could be enough to do all the damage they want to do. Not so with a remote site.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, it's not like they're proposing leaving the stuff in an out of the way spot and forgetting about it. Presumably they're talking about a disposal facility that will have a staff and security forces etc.

      I'm more concerned about what the definition of "remote" is. Just think about what that word means for a second. When someone uses it to describe a place, they're revealing as much about themselves as they are the place. To an American, Mumbai is a "remote" place; that doesn't mean it's *empty*, it mean

      • I'm pretty certain that you could find some deep desert regions in Australia that are really not inhabited by anyone, even Aborigines.

  • by Baby Duck ( 176251 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:27AM (#47074173) Homepage
    The problem is getting it safely to central Australia in the first place. Lots of disasters can happen en route. The same resistance is found in the USA. People near railroads and interstates that will transport waste to American deserts are nervous.
    • Australia exports large amounts of uranium. If they managed to get it out, getting it in should pose no greater problem.

      • Nuclear waste in much much more dangerous than natural uranium.
        • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
          Just how dangerous is nuclear waste (assuming it doesn't fall into the wrong hands)? What are the concerns with burying the waste somewhere far from human habitation? It doesn't seem like the risks of waste disposal outweigh the benefits of nuclear power.
      • What mdsolar said. Just putting it back where it came from doesn't work -- unless you put certain protons and neutrons back where they came from.

    • There is the London Dumping Convention as well which prohibits dumping nuclear waste at sea. Have to make sure the stuff does not sink.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Transportation is one thing, but another is security and integrity. Australia is a rock island, so it would not be hard to find a place to keep the material sealed, but it is basically a big island. That is going to be, to some degree increasingly under water. Not to mention that western Australia appears to have an increase in tropical cyclone activity over the past five years. Even if this is a cyclical thing and not a product of climate change, one might have to protect the material from the occasion
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:27AM (#47074175) Homepage
    I thought that was the explanation for all the crazy animals, half of which can kill you.
    • I thought that was the explanation for all the crazy animals, half of which can kill you.

      Now now, be nice to the Australians...

  • geological stability (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:32AM (#47074209) Homepage Journal
    There is some evidence of geological stability there: []
  • He's doing it for the lulz, to tweak the particularly strident greentards that infect Australia.

    That said, if Australia went full-bore into PRISM and LFTR development (by, perhaps, providing some funding but mostly just expediting red tape and silencing greenies/NIMBYs) they could very well build a 11- or 12-figure industry around it instead of leaving it to China or India.

  • There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me your nukes, the isotopes, the radioactive wastes, and the whole compound, and I'll spare your lives. Just walk away and we'll give you a safe passageway in the wastelands. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

    I await your answer. You have a full day to decide.

    • by tekrat ( 242117 )

      2 days ago I saw a vehicle that'll haul that tanker. You wanna get out of here.... talk to me.

  • by imunfair ( 877689 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @11:06AM (#47074409) Homepage

    This is a smart move on Australia's part - they can let the world dump all the nuclear waste in their vast desert, and then when it's financially viable they can start reprocessing it for their own fuel (or to sell back to the people who dumped it). They also have a ton of coastline or open land where a special port or airport could be built to bring deliveries directly to the remote area, rather than passing it through normal channels - so NIMBY complaints shouldn't be a big issue.

    • Besides the risk of a nuclear accident, dealing with nuclear waste is the other main reason why some countries abandoned nuclear power. If Australia wants to take it (for a fee I expect) all, I expect a new revival of nuclear power until we have efficient fusion.
  • It costs something to feed prisoners. Maybe transporting them to Australia and leaving them there would save some money. Oh, wait...
  • The Marianas is a subduction zone; other than the obvious Godzilla jokes, why not encase radioactive waste in ceramic disks and send it back into the interior of the planet to be recycled over the next few hundred million years?

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Because it's incredibly useful as fuel. The more dangerous it is, the more useful it is. The waste from a decent reactor design would be no more radioactive than background radiation, but they don't exist yet. That's the key word - yet.
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        ". The more dangerous it is, the more useful it is."
        Not really. The really dangerous high level waste is not good for fuel or even hard to deal with. The hotter the material the shorter the half life.
        The medium level stuff is where the fuel elements are the issue with the waste is the complex decay and absorption events in the spent fuel rods.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      The subduction rate is negligible. The rate of earthquakes and difficulty of working there are not. Subduction zones are among the worst places you could dispose of waste. If you want to get it deep in a plausible amount of time, pick an easy spot to drill a super-deep borehole into stable crust and dispose of it there.

    • because the 'spent' fuel has significant potential to be reused in a thorium reactor. Ideally wherever we decide to store/contain 'waste' currently, we want it to be accessible in the future.

      Please correct the layman's understanding, but it's not dissimilar *in concept* to refining crude oil into gasoline and disposing of the diesel, kerosene, and all the other non gasoline parts of the stack?

      • Except they aren't offering to re-refine it for use as fuel again, they're offering longer term dump storage to get rid of it.

        • if something has significant future economic value, your storage should be reversible. how is this not common sense?

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            It reminds me of how common it's become for old mines to at some point in time go through a new run of their tailings pile, either for primary material that earlier, less efficient processes didn't recover, or for other minerals that there was no attempt made to recover the first time because either the tech or the demand wasn't there.

            I would be a lot more more surprised if nuclear waste was never gone through than if it was. I mean, picture the distant future. It's not like a wind turbine is going to be po

  • Use space and send it to the sun. The entire earth could be radioactive and enter the sun with little to no effect. Sending off a rocket loaded with nuclear waste to the sun every year or so would certainly be safer.

    And before you start saying "well, the rocket could explode" - you use a safe rocket design - payload on top and design to minimize. You could even launch from aircraft or do other means to get it into space where it is then attached to the doomed delivery vehicle.

    Reason we don't? No one t
    • Reason we don't? No one thought of it when everyone was signing the agreements not to do weapons stuff in space.

      ... and it's really difficult (takes an awful lot of energy) to fly something into the sun. And it's wasting what will in the future be a valuable resource. Not to mention that no matter how safe your rocket design is, strapping your nuclear waste on top of hundreds of tons of explosives is inherently more risky than putting it into a hole in the ground.

      The idea is nothing new; I'm sure people have been bandying it about since the first nuclear power plants came online. But it's really not a good idea.

    • you use a safe rocket design

      You mean one that won't fall in the ocean?

    • It would be better off on mars or in orbit or a salt dome or a facility in a salt lake in the middle of nowhere, like say, oh, Australia. Keeping it on earth means once the fossil fuel scaremongering leveraging of Fukushima dies down and we build better reactors we can just extract its energy. Hell, China might actually buy it, Isn't Billy G. building a traveling wave reactor or a molten salt reactor there? [] If anyone knows how to handle hazardous products it's Microsoft CEOs...

      On Mars it could eliminate

    • Use space and send it to the sun.

      Not again.

      Two things:

      1) it's easier to send it to alpha centauri than to the sun. It's even easier to drop it into Jupiter.

      2) quick back-of-the-envelop guesstimate. Delta-V required to go from Earth surface to the Sun in a single impulse - 31.7 km/s. Correct that for a reasonably real rocket (one that has to actually accelerate, instead of the magic "single impulse" - 33 km/s.

      Now imagine a rocket that massed (empty) 100 metric tons. Imagine that this rocket can car

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Use the far side of the Moon. Nothing could go wrong.

  • Space: 2099 (Score:4, Funny)

    by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @12:12PM (#47075003) Homepage Journal

    All radioactive waste is stored in Australia, commanded by John Koenig. But after a huge explosion, Australia is hurled into space on it's own, and the inhabitants of the country are forced to survive by their wits and with their Eagle spacecraft.

    Starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
    Produced by Gerry Anderson.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Australia is already home to some of the strangest and most dangerous animals. Cane toads, poisonous snakes and spiders, drop bears, to name a few. We don't need any radioactivity speeding up the mutation process.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Don't forget the Box Jellyfish.

    • Australia seems to be full of dangerous animals. That don't appear anywhere else.

      Which tends to suggest that they couldn't compete in any of the rest of the planet. Because if what they had going for them was competitive in general, there's be similar animals elsewhere....

    • Don't forget Vegemite. You have no idea how radiation could mutate Vegemite.

  • by RockClimbingFool ( 692426 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @12:26PM (#47075197)
    Do you want Mad Max? Because THAT'S how you get Mad Max.
  • As long as it's "far away", it's safe. Right? And you got put in charge of seeing to my safety how, exactly?
  • The problem is the waste would have to be transported to Australia. Like boats have never sunk and planes have never crashed before into the ocean.

  • Any chance we can get them to take some of our toxic politicians instead? Stick them some place really isolated in the outback where they just annoy each other. It would be a far greater service to the world than taking nuclear waste.


  • That is all.
  • Australia is planning to build an atom bomb...
    • by ColaMan ( 37550 )

      We built a couple, with the Brits. Decided to leave those things alone.

      Parts of Maralinga are still a little on the warm side because of it, so you'd think it would make a good place to store your waste.....

  • Other people created this problem, they should fix it. Oz should not have to suck up the worlds nuclear waste just because it's an easy way for the rest of the world to get rid of an issue that they knew about before building power stations.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351