NUCLEAR POWER WAS NEAR
CANBERRA, Jan 1- Australia came close to having nuclear power generation by the early 1970s, according to an AAP report based on newly released Cabinet papers for 1971. A site had been selected at Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast, and a company chosen to construct the reactor. The British company Nuclear Power Group Ltd which proposed a 509 megawatt steam generating heavy water reactor powered by low enriched fuel was clearly the preferred tender. The tender price was $131 million with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission up for another $76 million for assorted site works and infrastructure costs. However, the proposal was only viable as long as the Australian Atomic Energy Commission could sell power to the Electricity Commission of NSW to finance and operate the plant. In its original calculations, the government compared the nuclear option against a coal-fired power station which could be built for $87 million showing a subsidy of almost $6 million a year would be required for the nuclear plant. The project was deferred.