Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

My secret, guilty pleasure

We went to see a film about nuclear waste last week, not the kind of thing I’d normally race to see but Containment was made by two Harvard professors, so even ex-alumni Clyde was keen. And I discovered a link to my secret, guilty pleasure (quite apart from the mandatory choc top.)

chocolate 2It was worth seeing the film for this one fact alone – plutonium waste has a half-life of 24,000 years. That’s how long it takes for half of the radioactivity to decay.

Thanks to decades of cold war and mass production of nuclear weapons there’s a lot of nuclear waste around. Much of it is being buried in America – and no doubt in other secret sites around the world.containment

As the film pointed out, no amount of brainstorming or strategic planning can predict what the world will look like in 200 years, never mind 24,000. What a legacy.

I know solar energy and wind or wave power can only supply a fraction of the world’s energy needs, but there’s a spin-off – a secret, guilty pleasure that to my mind rivals chocolate.

We installed solar panels about a year ago and every day (I try to limit my indulgence to no more than twice a day) I slip outside to check how much energy our roof-top panels are producing. It’s an addictive pleasure, and when Sydney’s enjoying a run of hot sunny days like now, it gives me huge satisfaction.


Are we paying for power right now? No! Are we producing enough to power the dishwasher? Yes. Can I switch the kettle on as well? Yes! Should I do the ironing? Oh, look at that, too bad. The ironing will have to wait. Again.

With all the other appliances on standby, whirring, blinking and sucking up juice, of course those panels are completely inadequate, but installing them has made me far more aware of our overall energy usage, so our consumption has dropped dramatically.

Image 7Our energy supplier must be spitting chips.

Image 2

Last time I was in Broken Hill I visited the new solar farm that AGL is building. I wasn’t allowed in so I drove along the perimeter. It’s huge. It covers 140 hectares and the one at Nyngen is even bigger; they’re the largest solar power stations in Australia.

You can read more about the project here. And thank you to Helena for supplying these images, courtesy of Broken Hill solar plant.

When fully functional the Broken Hill plant will produce enough power to supply 17,000 homes. That’s pretty much all the residents of Broken Hill.

It’s a drop in the ocean of course, but it’s something.

And speaking of drops in the ocean, let’s hope more rain falls over the inland soon.  Water shortages are worsening and Broken Hill isn’t the only place that looks to be heading into a troubled future.







5 comments on “My secret, guilty pleasure

  1. Eliza Waters
    November 27, 2015

    When I hear about nuclear waste, I get an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. However can they think that it is okay to just ‘bury’ it?


  2. nantubre
    November 27, 2015

    It’s just freaking scary.


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This entry was posted on November 26, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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