Australia’s Energy Minister Angus Taylor has asked the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy to investigate the nuclear fuel cycle, Committee Chairman Ted O’Brien announced today.
“This will be the first inquiry into the use of nuclear energy in Australia in more than a decade and I believe it’s the first time the Australian Parliament has ever undertaken such an inquiry,” O’Brien, who is Member of Parliament for Fairfax in Queensland, said. He will be tasked with leading the inquiry after the ministerial request is considered and adopted by the committee.
In a letter to O’Brien, Taylor said the inquiry will consider the economic, environmental and safety implications of nuclear power. The minister has specifically asked the committee to inquire into and report on “the circumstances and prerequisites necessary for any future government’s consideration of nuclear energy generation including small modular reactor technologies in Australia”.
The terms of reference for the inquiry include: waste management, transport and storage; health and safety; environmental impacts; energy affordability and reliability; economic feasibility; community engagement; workforce capability; security implications; national consensus; and “any other relevant matter”.
“Australia’s energy systems are changing with new technologies, changing consumer demand patterns and changes in demand load from major industries,” the context for the inquiry notes. “At the same time the National Electricity Market is seeing a significant increase in capacity in intermittent low emissions generation technologies.” The country’s bipartisan moratorium on nuclear electricity generation – which has been maintained by successive Labor and Coalition governments – will remain in place, it said.
The inquiry will have regard to previous inquiries into the nuclear fuel cycle, including South Australia’s 2016 Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and the 2006 Review of Uranium Mining Processing and Nuclear Energy in Australia, which is also known as the Switkowski report after its lead author Ziggy Switkowski.
The minister has requested that the committee completes the inquiry and delivers its report by the end of this year.
Source: World Nuclear News