Nuclear future for Eyre Peninsula

A SOUTH Australian nuclear company believes Eyre Peninsula would become one of the richest regions in Australia if the Royal Commission on Nuclear Fuel accepts its submission and the state government were to adopt the ideas.

SA Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd will submit its plans for a nuclear industry to be introduced to South Australia, with Eyre Peninsula to be a focal point.

While the process is still in its early days, the company hopes to build small nuclear reactors around Eyre Peninsula, potentially contributing billions of dollars to the South Australian economy.

Adelaide University Professor Stephen Lincoln is one of six board members for SA Nuclear Energy Systems and believes the initial blueprints also have the potential to create thousands of jobs on Eyre Peninsula.

"There is a tremendous potential for employment," he said.

"We'd need to build a dock for the ships, a railway line, not to mention that the byproduct of nuclear energy is stored 5 kilometres below the surface, which would create even more jobs."

The company's plans for Eyre Peninsula, including a $7 billion uranium enrichment plant in Whyalla, will now have to meet the Royal Commission's terms of reference.

The state government announced on Monday the Royal Commission would focus on three key areas: nuclear waste storage, generation of power and uranium enrichment.

A recent state survey indicated 67 per cent of South Australians were in favour of the state becoming involved in the nuclear industry.

Despite the high percentage of support, Mr Stephens insisted people would always be skeptical about introducing nuclear power to their towns.

"People need to understand how highly regulated nuclear power is," he said.

"At any time, regulators from the international atomic energy agency can come in and shut you down."

While the group hopes to submit its plans for Eyre Peninsula in the coming weeks, Mr Stephens doesn't expect to see developments start any time soon.

"It might take two years before we see any real action," he said.

"The commission might take up to a year before they come to their verdict and then it still has to go to parliament."