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Rio Tinto has urged WA Premier Colin Barnett to consider nuclear energy as part of a future solution to supplying the state’s electricity.
In submissions to the Government’s top energy advisory body, Rio Tinto said nuclear power was “becoming increasingly applicable” to small energy markets such as WA, according to The West Australian.
Rio Tinto general manager of climate change, water and the environment Allan Jackson said the Government had ruled out nuclear power without considering it, which was an improper energy planning policy.
“It would seem reasonable that any long-term vision for the energy sector in WA should be open to consideration of all potential energy sources,” he said.
The submission said nuclear power was being constantly refined, and 250MW systems, comparable to average gas or coal-fired power plants, were now available.
The comments were refuted by green groups and the opposition, who said the Fukushima disaster in Japan proved nuclear energy was unsafe and the State should focus on developing renewable options instead.
Energy Minister Peter Collier said there was strong community opposition to nuclear power, and it would not be suitable for WA’s market for at least another 20 years.
“There’s got to be a lot of water that goes under the bridge before WA gets its first nuclear power station,” he said.
Opposition leader Eric Ripper echoed Collier’s calls, and said there was no public support for nuclear power and the ALP would not support it.
Last month Toro Energy’s Wiluna project entered the public exhibition phase of assessment, the first WA uranium mine to do so.