The nuclear crisis in Japan is unlikely to have an impact on Australian uranium exports, the Australian Uranium Association says.
Experts at a uranium industry conference in Adelaide say the Japanese emergency will not have the same effect as the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disasters and it does not alter the case for nuclear power.
Association chief executive Michael Angwin said the problems with the Fukushima reactors in northern Japan, which were damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, would create some uncertainty as governments and operators learnt the lessons of the emergency.
But he said the economic and other factors pushing countries to use nuclear power remained unchanged.
“The industry has an extraordinarily good safety record and will learn from any lessons that emerge and make improvements where necessary,” Mr Angwin told the Paydirt 2011 Uranium Conference in Adelaide on Monday.
“Countries turn to nuclear energy because they wish to improve their energy security and expand their electricity generating capacity in a way that does not increase their carbon emissions.
“That remains the case today.”
Uranium industry analyst Warwick Grigor said if placed in perspective the Japanese emergency did not have to “bring down the curtains” on the nuclear industry.
“This doesn’t have to be another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl in terms of its impact on the nuclear industry,” he said.
“We need to remember that every industry has its disasters. Nothing is fail safe. Nothing is bullet proof.
“We get one dramatic incident in 25 years in an industry with an impeccable safety track record and there is a hue and cry demanding the closure of the entire industry.”
Toro Energy Ltd managing director Greg Hall told the conference there had been and would continue to be some impact on the uranium market from the events in Japan.
“It is, however, too early to determine the duration or tenor of those impacts in real terms,” Mr Hall said.
“The deaths and displacement from the quake and tsunami are horrendous.
“The nuclear reactor incidents are adding to the fear and confusion, but should be looked at in perspective with this incredible event.
“While some governments are initialising safety reviews, this does not alter the case for nuclear power as an energy source for the future.”
But uranium industry lobbyist Greg Rudd said it could take two years for commonsense to return to the nuclear debate and no Australian politician could be expected to back nuclear power during the current election cycle.
“It will not be business as usual in the nuclear sector. Safety must come first, and everyone needs to do some hard analysis before we move forward,” Mr Rudd said.
“In time, the fear of a global meltdown will dim, and logic of using nuclear energy as part of the cleaner mix will reassert itself.”