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Jervis Bay Nuclear Power Plant was a proposed nuclear power reactor in the Jervis Bay Territory on the south coast of New South Wales. It would have been Australia's first nuclear power plant, and was the only proposal to have received serious consideration as of 2007. Some environmental studies and site works were completed, and two rounds of tenders were called and evaluated, but the Australian government decided not to proceed with the project.


Background to the project

In 1969 the Australian government proposed to the New South Wales government that a 500 MWe nuclear power station should be built on Commonwealth territory and connected to the New South Wales grid, electricity generation and distribution being a state responsibility under the Australian constitution. Possible sites were the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay. The plan, supported by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, was for a design of reactor that could generate weapons-grade plutonium, possibly reflecting Australia's long-term post-World War II interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.[1][2]

In December 1969 invitations to express interest in the construction of a nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay were sent to fourteen organisations. Tender documents were issued the following February, with tenders closing the following June. Fourteen tenders were received from seven different organisations. About 70 staff were involved full time in evaluating tenders, principally from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Electricity Commission of NSW, and more than 150 others had a significant part-time role. As a result, a recommendation was written for the acceptance of the tender to supply a 600 MWe SGHWR, from the British organisation The Nuclear Power Group.[3]

The abandonment of the proposal

Before this recommendation was made, however, there was a change of prime minister (although not of government). John Gorton had been a supporter of the project. However, he was replaced as Prime Minister by William McMahon. McMahon opposed the nuclear power program, and the project was deferred for a year, citing financial constraints.[4][5][6] Tenders were re-called, only to be again deferred and in practical terms cancelled in June 1971. The international organization WUPL had tried to ward off the dangers connected with the use of atomic energy since 1970.[7]

Some land clearing was done in preparation for the construction, and concrete footings were installed. The footings are visible to this day.


  1. ^ Cawte, Alice (1992). Atomic Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.  
  2. ^ Ian Holland, 'Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management in Australia', Chronology No. 1 2003-04, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 2003, p. 9.
  3. ^ Alder, Keith (1996). Australia's Uranium Opportunities. Sydney: Pauline Alder. ISBN 0-646-29942-5.  
  4. ^ Ian Hancock, John Gorton: He Did It His Way, Hodder, 2002
  5. ^ 'Gorton gave nod to nuclear power plant', The Age, 1 January 2000.
  6. ^ 'Classic stoush the sub-text to nuclear plan', Canberra Times, 1 January 2000.
  7. ^ Letter from President of the South East Asia and Oceanic Region, Harry F. Kurth, Sydney, 8th April 1972

Further reading

  • Alder, Keith (1996). Australia's Uranium Opportunities. Sydney: Pauline Alder. ISBN 0-646-29942-5.  
  • Cawte, Alice (1992). Atomic Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.  

External links


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