Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who would have a role in creating nuclear electricity generation in Australia, added a third “s” to her first name out of a belief in numerology.
That pretty well sums up the new enthusiasm for nuclear power within Government ranks — a triumph of quackery over substance.
The nuclear proponents and their media cheer squad seem so determined to see Australian uranium dug up and used to light up the nation, they have diminished the scientific realities of the exercise.
Minister Ley has said she is open to a review of the ban on nuclear power plants.
This isn’t as easy as her turning Susan into Sussan because, as she explained in 2015, “if you add the numbers that match the letters in your name you can change your personality”.
It is a matter of introducing a power source which would be expensive to build, expensive to run, and expensive to turn off. Plus it would be dangerous.
Make that “very dangerous”.
We have a National Wind Farm Commissioner — created by Tony Abbott when PM — overseeing the largely mythical health hazards caused by turbines generating electricity.
If we do that for a few hundred windmills, imagine the huge bureaucracy monitoring the health effects of a nuclear power plant.
Little of which is being addressed by the new gushing tribe of nuclear fans.
It is unfair to load all of this on Ms Ley, but she does administer the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which contains the nuclear ban.
It says, “Nuclear action will require approval if it has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Nuclear actions should be referred to the Minister and undergo an environmental assessment and approval process.”
The pressure for change is coming from a wide range of political figures including One Nation’s new NSW Legislative Council member Mark Latham.
And within the Government the pro nuclear voices have included that of Queensland Nationals federal MP Keith Pitt who told The Australian this month, “In our view, the technology has moved on and small modular reactors and thorium need to be investigated.
“There has been strong support coming from most people, surprisingly among young people. I think the culture today means people are better informed.”
Better informed, perhaps, by the acclaimed mini-series starring a collapsed reactor core, Chernobyl?
The nuclear demands appear to be a renewal of efforts made and rebuffed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He had been approached by 11 Government MPs who wanted nuclear in the energy mix.
Current PM Scott Morrison has not joined the nuclear rush but Energy Minister Angus Taylor has told The Guardian he would look at it “when there is a very clear business case which shows the economics of this can work”.
Nuclear plants, even “small modules” are costly to construct and would almost certainly require a government funding contribution.
There then is the problem of radioactive waste disposal, itself costly and potentially a great harm to the environment.
And finally, turning off a power plant before it closes itself down in violent fashion, is complex and costly, too. And the site would not be reusable for decades.
And there is the prospect of a nuclear reactor accident which the fans of Australian ventures are sniffing at with derision.
Why, “only” 100 people died in the Chernobyl incident in 1986 they say, rejecting estimates of consequential deaths and illnesses possibly running into the thousands.
Germany is closing its nuclear plants by 2022 following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The decision came after years of lobbying particularly by the German Greens, but the disaster sealed the matter.
Italy has already ended use of nuclear power, post Fukushima.
If the pro-nuclear MPs are so confident of safety they would have to accept a reactor in their own neighbourhoods, assuring voters they would not become the next Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island.
Or if they did, “only” 100 of them would die.
If not, maybe they would accept nuclear waste being buried in their patch, where it would contaminate for thousands of years.
Neither opportunity is likely to embraced by them.