Nuclear Energy and Active Citizenship: Background

Begin your investigation by familiarising yourself with the main issues at the centre of the debate, the main arguments and the meaning of active citizenship. This document has a list of some of the groups involved, which you will need to know about.

  1. Go to http://www.google.com/maps, and type Engadine, New South Wales, Australia into the search box. When the map comes up, use the navigation control to zoom in on Lucas Heights. Switch to the ‘hybrid’ version of the map. You will see a large group of buildings on several streets. These buildings include the reactor and make up Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Move around the map, using the navigating tools. Look at the buildings, the type of country around them, its features and nearby developments, such as roads and houses, for a quick first impression.
  2. For some of the main points of the debate about replacing the reactor, go to the ABC catalyst site.
    Look for information on the uses of the reactor, and the reasons given by different people for replacing, or not replacing it. There is also some information on wider issues, such as nuclear waste. Consider the sources of the information - could it be biased? (that is, taking only one side of the argument). Are the speakers people who have qualifications or experience to comment knowledgably? Remember that first impressions can be misleading and keep an open mind. There are widely different views on the issue of nuclear energy. People have every right to hold their own view, but they also need to respect the views of others.
    Draw up a database like the example in Figure 1, and jot down points as you read as a starting place. Keep the database to refer to and add to later on.
  3. What does being an active citizen actually mean? Go to Parliamentary Education Office: Make a Difference. Play the interactive game. Next, use the Spider Chart in Figure 2 to sort out your ideas. How do citizens find out information? How do they communicate their concerns and ideas? What kinds of groups work together on community issues? What practical actions can citizens take to change something?