In our February Nuclear Free News update you can read about decolonising energy in Canada, the threat of nuclear in the Russian attacks on Ukraine, a nuclear fusion reality check, France nuclear energy reality check and AUKUS.
Nuclear threat in Russian attacks on Ukraine
We are about to learn what happens when nuclear-powered nations go to war, putting nuclear power plants at risk of deliberate or accidental military strikes and thus risking a Chernobyl scale catastrophe.
ICAN statement strongly condemns Putin’s order to put Russian nuclear weapons forces on high alert.
Video report on the nuclear risks in Chernobyl.
Putin has increasingly grown more belligerent on the nuclear weapons front, showing a disregard for international law and promoting dangerous escalation.
The world is underestimating the risk that full-scale, no-holds-barred conventional warfare could spark a catastrophic reactor failure, causing an unprecedented regional nuclear emergency.
Major gun battle breaks out between Russian and Ukrainian forces at the stricken radioactive site, with its safety status now unclear.
Even if commanders took pains to avoid striking Ukraine's 15 nuclear power reactors, that might not be enough to avoid a catastrophe.
The Candian Kebaowek First Nation is calling for an alternative to a planned SMR project, one that won’t undermine proper consultation and leave a toxic legacy.
Scientists hail the results of a recent experiment as a "big moment" in the development of nuclear fusion technology, and a significant step closer to providing an almost limitless source of clean energy.
Fusion reality check: https://nuclear.foe.org.au/fusion/
While we’re closer than ever to making commercial fusion viable, this new power source simply won’t get here in time to do the heavy lifting of decarbonisation.
Emmanuel Macron has announced a “renaissance” for the French nuclear industry with a vast programme to build as many as 14 new reactors, arguing that it would help end the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and make France carbon neutral by 2050.
France reality check: All or nearly all of the existing 56 reactors will be closed by 2050. The plan is to lock in 6 new reactors with the option for another 8. Government also planning big investments in renewables. The only reactor under construction in France is 11 years behind schedule and the cost has increased 6-fold to A$30 billion.
As a result of the AUKUS Partnership, Australia will become the seventh nation to operate nuclear-powered submarines. This significant security pact seeks to pool resources and integrate supply chains for defense-related science and industry among the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. The result may be a long-term transnational project that both provides Australia with nuclear submarines, and seizes joint advantages in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and cyber technology. However, success will depend on the extent to which the three governments can and choose to identify and resolve practical considerations over several decades to establish a pathway to an Australian nuclear submarine and technology integration.
The MoD is stuck in a vicious circle whereby the cost of storing submarines eats into the budget for their disposal. The modest progress at Rosyth in the last 5 years is encouraging but the glacial pace of work in Devonport is more concerning. There are always more pressing priorities for defence expenditure and the dismantling project has been continually delayed. In the meantime the nuclear and health and safety regulatory requirements that must be met are getting stricter, adding further costs.