South Australia's royal commission into the role of nuclear power should investigate the costs of uranium mining, conservationists say.
The draft terms of the reference for the royal commission, released on Monday, are focused on nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment and waste storage. But the government has ruled out scaling back the state’s involvement in uranium mining, while also precluding the use of nuclear for military purposes.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the decision to exclude consideration of uranium mining is deeply disappointing. “The nuclear industry starts with uranium and so should any genuine assessment of the nuclear sector in South Australia,” he said.
“To ignore an evidence based cost-benefit analysis of this sector is to move from the real world of industry performance to a publicly funded platform for industry promises.”
The ACF has pushed for an end to uranium mining, which it says has been linked to the contamination of surrounding soil, air and water.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the government would be guided by extensive public consultation.
“Most people have a strong view on the nuclear industry and more than 300 people have made submissions on how to scope the terms of reference,” he said.
“The draft terms of reference explicitly state that the impact on remote, regional and Aboriginal communities will be key to the inquiry.”
Former SA governor Kevin Scarce has been appointed royal commissioner and will commence work when the terms of reference are finalised in March.