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Australian Uranium Issues

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"The energy derived from 1 pound of uranium is equivalent to 20,000 pounds of coal"

If they didn't make massive bombs from it uranium probably wouldn't be such a contentious element, although nuclear power station accidents like those at Chernobyl in the former USSR and Three Mile Island in the USA certainly haven't helped the cause.

The safety of nuclear power technologies has improved substantially in recent decades, to the point where politicians are starting to consider the viability of nuclear power in Australia.

Nuclear power has no direct greenhouse emissions, unlike coal or other fuels which are burnt, but the environmental concerns are valid and allthough highly unlikely a nuclear accident in Australia could have widespread consequences.

However as Australia has around 40% of the world's easily mined uranium there is a valid call for a debate that takes into consideration the position of other less energy rich countries who are at present clamouring for Australian uranium. And if Australia markedly expands its' uranium exports can we then not take part in a 'cradle to grave' industry that includes waste storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel?


Read opinions / issues about Australian uranium


Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel

    * Weapons-grade uranium and plutonium surplus to military requirements in the USA and Russia is being made available for use as civil fuel.
    * Weapons-grade uranium is highly enriched, to over 90% U-235 (the fissile isotope). Weapons-grade plutonium has over 93% Pu-239 and can be used, like reactor-grade plutonium, in fuel for electricity production.
    * Highly-enriched uranium from weapons stockpiles is displacing some 10,600 tonnes of U3O8 production from mines each year, and meets about 13% of world reactor requirements.

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