It’s easy to get lost in the noise of nuclear and the exaggerated unproven claims from nuclear promoters.

The Coalition’s nuclear plans and claims are not just fanciful, they’re irresponsible.

Here’s six evidence-based reasons why nuclear is bad for Australia:

Number one

Producing nuclear energy would simply take too long.

On average, it takes about nine years to build a nuclear power station and another 10 years for planning and licensing. Comparatively it takes an average of 1-3 years to build major solar and wind projects.

It is also illegal in every state and territory to build nuclear reactors, so any construction would have to wait for changes in legislation. There is no chance a nuclear power station could be built in Australia before 2040.

Climate change is an urgent threat, and we simply cannot afford to wait for nuclear.

Number two

Nuclear is dirty and dangerous, and poses significant community, environment and health risks.

Aside from the radioactive waste they generate (we’ll get to that later), nuclear power stations run on uranium which, like coal and gas, is not a renewable resource. Mining uranium pollutes our air, soil, and water and can damage the genetic and reproductive systems of plants, animals and people.

All of Australia’s operating uranium mines have a history of leaks, spills, and accidents. We are already battling the impacts of coal and gas on the environment. Our planet cannot afford this pollution.

Then there is the radiation. Let’s not forget, radiation from major nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 has impacted hundreds of thousands of people and contaminated large areas. The Fukushima disaster was directly fuelled by Australian uranium and to this day wastewater is still an ongoing issue with this disaster.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Number three

Nuclear is far more expensive compared to renewable options.

Modelling shows that developing nuclear infrastructure is 5-10 times more expensive than solar and wind.

Nuclear is also an energy source that the market doesn’t want which means it would require massive public subsidies – your money – and big government intervention to fund.

Establishing nuclear would be a massive cost, not to mention the social and environmental costs of keeping coal-fired power stations open waiting for nuclear power to come online. As we said above, nuclear takes a long time to implement.

Number four

Nuclear power requires a lot of water.

Nuclear reactors use tonnes of water per second to cool the reactors to produce electricity. Wind and solar need little or no ongoing water use.

Water resourcing would need to be a huge consideration when planning the placement of nuclear power stations so that the resource can be adequately provided. Nuclear power stations would be competing against other industries and sectors for this precious resource and this would have adverse impacts on environment and the economy.

Water is a finite resource and we have alternatives that do not require ongoing water use.

Number five

We have no proven options for managing long-lived radioactive waste.

Radioactive waste is often described as the Achilles Heel of the nuclear industry.

All reactors create waste, and this is a growing and unresolved global management issue. For decades, governments have tried to impose low and intermediate level waste dumps and stores – predominantly on First Nations Land – across multiple sites in Australia. Every plan has been stopped by community, political and legal opposition.

Australia’s current intermediate level waste needs to be isolated from people and the environment for up to 10,000 years. High-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors must be isolated for up to 100,000 years.

Let’s contextualise this: A nuclear fuel rod produces around three years of electricity before it becomes unpredictable, and ultimately high-level waste. This means you get around 1000 days of electricity at the cost of 100,000 years of toxic waste!

And we there is no proven options for managing this.

Yellow radioactive waste barrels

Number six

And finally, we have better alternatives that are renewable and ready.

Renewables are cheaper, cleaner and faster. They’re more deployable, popular and most importantly, they actually exist and are producing power in Australia today.

Not only is nuclear, expensive, dirty and dangerous, it is also entirely unproven. The Opposition’s nuclear plans are based on the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) which are not in commercial deployment anywhere in the world. Not one hot shower or cold drink has resulted from SMRs…

Australian renewables are now powering industrial manufacturing plants in the Hunter, Melbourne Airport, all of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania, as well as thousands of homes and buildings all around the country.

Australian renewables are already creating tens of thousands of future-proofed jobs while creating a zero-carbon, affordable energy system.

Why would we consider a dangerous nuclear future when we have renewable options right in front of us?

Wind farms with sunset behind them

Renewable energy is clean, safe, affordable, low risk and popular.

Nuclear energy is risky, slow, and wildly expensive.

Our shared energy future is renewable not radioactive.

Speak out for a nuclear free future. Sign the petition today.

Read more:

Power games: Assessing coal to nuclear proposals in Australia (30-page report)

Why nuclear power will never be right for Australia (10-page summary)

Australian Conservation Foundation