No? to nuclear Tweed

By DARREN COYNE

NUCLEAR power? Not in Tweed Shire's backyard!

NSW premier Bob Carr called for a debate on nuclear energy this week and local campaigners are more than happy to oblige.

Environmentalists from Murwillumbah and Lismore yesterday dismissed the Premier's suggestion that nuclear power could be the way to tackle the increasing problem of global warming.

They say conservation and alternative energy generation such as solar, wind, tides and other renewable sources were the way of the future.

On the eve of World Environment Day celebrations tomorrow in Murwillumbah's Knox Park, coordinator of the Caldera Environment Centre Paul Hopkins said nuclear energy was simply too dangerous. He said that while nuclear energy may have less impact on global warming than fossil fuels such as coal, other alternatives should be explored further.

"When you talk of nuclear energy one thinks immediately about Chernobyl and the shocking scenes of children with major deformities years after the explosion," he said.

"There is also the spin-off of weapons - the use of spent uranium and the possibility of nuclear armaments is frightening.

"It's not a particularly efficient way to produce energy and it does have a lot of dangers."

Mr Hopkins said the Caldera Environment Centre would have information available at Knox Park on Sunday about nuclear power, and also on strategies to use less energy.

"There are much less-damaging technologies such as solar hot water heaters which are very effective and cost effective and I think governments should be doing more to subsidise and promote those technologies," he said.

Anti-nuclear campaigner, HansPeter Schnelboegl, a Lismore scientist, spent years researching nuclear power and uranium mining.

"Nuclear power is inefficient and much more costly than any other form of power that we have in use," Mr Schnelboegl said.

He listed radioactive waste, accidents and weapons potential as the three main areas of concern.

"Billions of tonnes of uranium tailings at mines. At Roxy Downs there are 30 metre-high areas of tailings as big as football fields which remain radioactive for several billion years," he said.

"The consequences in Iraq are already beginning to be seen with birth defects increasing ten times since depleted uranium weapons were first used."

Mr Carr said this week that it was time to review the issue of global warming.

"The planet is warming up and we need some new energy source until wind and solar and hydrogen become available," he said,.

The issue will be raised at the NSW ALP conference next weekend where Mr Carr is expected to unveil a white paper on the future electricity needs of NSW.

Tweed MP Neville Newell and Richmond MP Justine Elliot yesterday failed to respond to questions about whether he would support nuclear power generation in the Tweed valley.



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