I felt that I must go back to a “theme” for this month, because this one is such an important one.
The nuclear industry has put it over the world with a number of lies. Yet one by one, each nuclear lie has been exposed.
Nuclear power is not clean. It’s not cheap. It’s not safe. It’s notnecessary.
Today – those nuclear promoters who in the past denied that global warming was happening – are now changing their tune.
The only seemingly valid argument for nuclear power is that it will “combat global warming” because nuclear is “emissions free. It is “low carbon”
But that’s just another lie.
Robb Fast-Tracks UAE Uranium Deal https://newmatilda.com/2014/04/23/robb-fast-tracks-uae-uranium-dea By Dave Sweeney, 23 April 14 The Federal Government has signed another uranium export deal with a dubious overseas partner – and without inspecting the country’s facilities. We need an independent inquiry, writes Dave Sweeney
In a move that marks the first time Australia uranium would be sold to the Middle East, Trade Minister Andrew Robb is fast-tracking a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last week hesigned a new treaty in Dubai worth 800 tonnes of Uranium a year from 2020. But in doing so, the Minister is treating our Parliament as little more than a radioactive rubber stamp.
The foundation for these sales was laid by former foreign minister and airline food critic Bob Carr, who signed the initial agreement with the UAE — a country with a secretive, unelected government situated in one of the world’s most insecure regions.
Consequently, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recently recommended that prior to any ratification of the sales plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency undertake physical inspections of UAE facilities.
But the Federal Government’s failure to take this or any other prudent step, in favour of providing “certainty” to the ailing uranium sector shows it has confused the commercial interest of Australia’s small, high-risk low-return uranium sector with our national interest. Uranium is a small contributor to Australian export revenue and employment, but when it comes to global impact and risk Australian uranium is playing in the major league. The Australian Conservation Foundation has used industry data to examine the sustained gap between the sector’s promise and performance.
The report, Yellowcake Fever: Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths, highlights the urgent need for an independent cost-benefit analysis and a comprehensive and transparent assessment of Australia’s uranium trade. The sector’s employment contribution is tiny: the World Nuclear Association estimates there are less than 1800 jobs in Australia’s entire uranium industry, representing just 0.015 per cent of Australian jobs. From 2002 to 2011, uranium sales averaged $627 million annually and accounted for only 0.29 per cent of all national export revenue: small beer, but with a big hangover.
Why sell to the UAE? The seven emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have one of the least participatory political systems in the world. In 2012, more than 50 human rights activists in the UAE were rounded up and detained without charge following calls for political reform. The Human Rights Watch 2013 world Report describes a worsening human rights situation in the country, with labour rights a particular issue.
The planned uranium sale treaty doesn’t take into account local human rights issues, political changes or broader social upheavals in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It states that the agreement “shall remain in force for an initial period of thirty years and upon expiry of this initial period shall be renewed automatically for successive thirty year periods”. If this is advanced Australia would be locked in. As Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said, the Federal Government should “take a deep breath” and ask “do they really want to be selling uranium into the Middle East at the moment?”
Despite the Federal Government’s repeated insistence that the uranium must and will only be used for peaceful purposes, there is clear evidence that international nuclear safeguards are stressed, under-resourced and effectively impossible to police. To simply state that Australian uranium will not be misused is dangerously naïve.
In the shadow of Fukushima — a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium — we need policy based on evidence. Instead of fast-tracking irresponsible uranium sales to the UAE and India — or continuing to provide nuclear fuel to nuclear weapon states — we urgently need an independent assessment of the full impacts of Australia’s radioactive and risky uranium trade.
Rare Birth Defects Still Spiking in Washington State http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/rare-birth-defects-still-spiking-washington-state-n86916 BY JONEL ALECCIA 22 April 14, Seven cases of a rare fatal birth defect were reported in a remote region of Washington state in 2013, making it the fourth consecutive year that rates have more than tripled the national average, health officials said Tuesday.
There’s still no clear reason for the spike in anencephaly, a severe defect in which babies are born missing parts of the brain or skull, according to Washington state health officials. NBC News investigated the issue in February.
But it brings to 30 the number of cases reported since 2010 in the area that includes Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties in central Washington state. The anencephaly rate jumped to 8.7 cases per 10,000 births in the region, far exceeding the national rate of 2.1 cases per 10,000 births.
“We’re really concerned about the fact that the anencephaly rates are still so high,” said Mandy Stahre, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based in Washington state. “We were sort of hoping that this may have been a statistical anomaly or would go away.”
State and federal officials plan to convene an advisory committee of national experts to review options for investigation and prevention, Stahre said. Next month, they’ll hold “listening sessions” in the community to hear public concerns about the rise in birth defects in the region. “The community members, they live here,” Stahre said. “They may be seeing things that we don’t.”
But that hardly seems like enough, said one mother whose baby was born with spina bifida last year and was considered part of a cluster of cases of neural tube defects in the region.
“It’s good that they want to know everybody’s thoughts, but what are they doing about it?” said Andrea Jackman, 30, who lived in an orchard in Yakima, Wash., while she was pregnant but now lives in Ellensburg. Her daughter, Olivia, is 7 months old.
“Why are they going to put the time and money into chatting with people who don’t know? Do the research.”
Stahre said one of the goals of the advisory committee will be to decide what focus future investigations should take.
“Do we go back and look even further back? Or do we just focus on current conditions and looking foward,” Stahre said.
The new count follows a report last summer that found more than two dozen cases of babies born with anencephaly and other neural tube defects in the region between 2010 and 2013.Researchers found no geographic, seasonal or other type of pattern to the cases, Stahre said.
Medical records indicate low rates of folic acid vitamin supplementation in the region, which has been linked to anencephaly. Other studies have shown ties between the defect and exposure to molds and pesticides. Critics have said state and federal officials need to do detailed interviews and a thorough investigation of the central Washington cluster.
Many local residents are convinced that leaking tanks of nuclear waste from the region’s nearby Hanford nuclear plant must be to blame, but Dr. Edith Cheng, a University Washington Medicine expert on birth defects, said there has not been a good evaluation of the plant’s impact on anencephaly or other problems.
Experts emphasize the need for all women of childbearing age to take folic acid supplements.
Maurice Newman, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council discusses climate change and says that there is little correlation between carbon dioxide and the warming of the planet.
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: One of Tony Abbott’s first acts in Government was to appoint Maurice Newman as the head of his Business Advisory Council. Mr Newman is the former Chairman of both the Stock Exchange and the ABC. He’s our guest this evening and he joined me earlier in the studio for this exclusive interview. ……..
EMMA ALBERICI: It’s no secret that you don’t agree that man-made CO2 is causing global warming. Given there is now consensus among 97 per cent or so of climate scientists across the world that the view – around the view that human activity is responsible for climate change, what would it take to convince you?………
MAURICE NEWMAN: I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to. But when you look at the last 17.5 years where we’ve had a multitude of climate models, and this was the basis on which this whole so-called science rests, it’s on models, computer models. And those models have been shown to be 98 per cent inaccurate.
EMMA ALBERICI: By?
MAURICE NEWMAN: By Roy Spencer, who’s carried out a thorough review of all of the models and the empirical data which against both land-based and satellite-based measuring. And they were found to be wrong………
EMMA ALBERICI: He is. He was at NASA. His colleagues at NASA disagree with him…………
Why Ukraine’s nuclear power plant crisis has far-reaching ramifications, Adelaide Advertiser, Jim Green , 22 April 14 IT seems likely that Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors will continue operating throughout the unfolding political crisis, and that there will be no attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear plants despite reported threats. Nonetheless the crisis has wideranging nuclear dimensions and ramifications.
Perhaps the most important is that the nuclear security threats draw attention to a question that may, sooner or later, seal the fate of nuclear power: what happens when nuclear-powered nations go to war? Continue operating power reactors and hope that they will not be attacked?
It’s a huge dilemma. There’s no dispute that most nation-states have the military wherewithal to destroy reactors, resulting in widespread radioactive fallout. But for countries such as Ukraine, with a heavy reliance on nuclear power for electricity supply, shutting down reactors would also be highly problematic.
There is a history of nation-states attacking ostensibly peaceful nuclear facilities, such as the destruction of research reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US.
Ukraine’s 15 power reactors are spread across four sites. Nuclear power supplied 44 per cent of Ukraine’s electricity last year – that heavy dependence presumably explains the decision to continue operating reactors despite security concerns.
Protesters seized the headquarters of Ukraine’s energy ministry on January 25, but left hours later. Eduard Stavitskiy, Ukraine’s then energy minister, reportedly said all the country’s nuclear power facilities were put on high alert after the seizure.
In late January, Ukraine’s Security Service reported “anonymous threats to blow up hydropower and nuclear power plants, damage to which may have unforeseen and extremely serious consequences for the population of Ukraine and neighbouring states.” On March 2, Ukraine’s parliament called for international assistance to protect its nuclear power plants……..http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/why-ukraines-nuclear-power-plant-crisis-has-farreaching-ramifications/story-fni6unxq-1226891431319
The company’s sales revenue of $US88.56 million in the three months to March 31 was down from $US106 million in the same period a year earlier.
Its average sales price in the March quarter was $US36.82 per pound, down from $US38.40 in the first six months of the 2013/14 financial year, and $US55.22 in same quarter a year earlier…….http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/04/22/paladins-revenue-continues-slide
During the quarter under review, Paladin reported a combined production of just over two-million pounds from its Kayelekera and Langer Heinrich mines. This compared with the 2.2-million pounds of uranium oxide (U3O8) in the previous quarter.
The Kayelekera operation produced 696 710 lb during the quarter, compared with the 777 015 lb produced in the previous three months.
Paladin suspended operations at Kayelekera in February this year, citing the depressed price of U3O8, and the unsustainable cash demand to maintain the loss-making operation.
Production at the Langer Heinrich operation, in Namibia, declined to 1.39-million pounds during the three months to March, compared with the 1.43-million pounds produced over the three months to December……..http://www.miningweekly.com/article/paladin-production-declines-on-kayelekera-close-2014-04-22
The Palmer United Party leader and mining magnate said the money allocated for the policy should be used for pensions, which could be under review in the May budget.
Mr Palmer said the rights of pensioners were more important and had greater priority than “a token gesture to addressing carbon issues”…….http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/direct-action-is-a-waste-of-money-palmer/story-fni0xqi4-1226891204355
New Zealand, EU push ahead with renewable energy initiatives in Pacific http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=213961 Apr 22,2014 WELLINGTON, (Xinhua) — A joint New Zealand-European Union (EU) mission will tour four Pacific island countries this week to assess progress on renewable energy projects, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced Tuesday.
The tour follows up on the Pacific Energy Summit in New Zealand in March last year and the launch of the European Union-New Zealand Energy Access Partnership to fund renewable energy projects in the region. The summit’s aim was to move Pacific nations closer to achieving 50 percent of their electricity from renewable means and 635 million NZ dollars (545.02 million U.S. dollars) was secured for Pacific energy projects.
“This mission is an opportunity to see the progress being made on renewable energy initiatives in Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Cook Islands, and to meet with the Pacific governments and organizations to discuss opportunities for further cooperation,” McCully said in a statement. “Representatives from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency are also joining the mission to gain further insight into the potential for sustainable energy across the Pacific,” he said.
“Renewable energy is a strong focus of our support to developing countries and we are committed to working with partners like the European Union to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy projects.”
European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who will accompany McCully on the mission, said the EU projects included solar panels installed to renewable provide electricity in Apia, extending the availability of reliable electricity with solar panels for Tuvalu’ s outer islands, and agreeing with the Asian Development Bank to construct six photovoltaic power plants in the Cook Islands.
In Kiribati, Piebalgs would also launch a barge that would protect Tarawa’s beaches from silt build-up and open a laboratory dedicated to monitoring and responding to environmental diseases.
Both projects were necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change in Kiribati, Piebalgs said in a statement.
Uranium kills in Namibia http://www.news24.com/Columnists/AndreasSpath/Uranium-kills-in-Namibia-20140422 2014-04-22 Andreas Wilson-Späth
That uranium is a radioactive and toxic substance with potentially lethal impacts on the people who dig it out of the ground is generally glossed over by those among us who argue for nuclear power as a clean, green, safe and sustainable source of electricity.
Along with other intractable problems faced by the atomic energy industry – like its propensity to lay to waste entire landscapes if and when things go wrong and the fact that we still don’t have a long-term solution for storing its noxious waste products – this is not in dispute. It’s merely a matter of unintended side-effects. Collateral damage.
For uranium miners in Namibia, however, their occupation in proximity to the metal has much more first-hand and personal consequences. A report soon to be released by Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute argues that long-time workers at the Rössing uranium mine are routinely exposed to unhealthy working conditions, radiation and dust.
The survey of current and former Rössing employees suggests that an anomalous number of them are dying of cancer and other mysteriously unexplained illnesses caused by their working conditions.
Rössing, which is located in central Namibia and employs over 1500 people, is majority owned (69%) by British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The next biggest shareholders of the mine are the government of Iran (10%) and our own Industrial Development Corporation (10%).
Rio Tinto officials have consistently denied that they’re to blame for any harm, insisting that their operations at Rössing and elsewhere, including their copper, gold, coal, bauxite, iron ore and diamond mines around the world, are well monitored and run ethically, for the benefit of local communities, respecting human rights and protecting the environment.
But a closer look at the multinational’s global operations reveals that Rio Tinto isn’t quite as squeaky clean as they would like us to believe:
• At the end of last year, radioactive and acidic slurry spilled from a uranium processing tank at Rössing. Two weeks later the damaged rubber lining of a similar tank at the company’s Ranger mine in Australia’s Northern Territory leaked more than a million litres of the stuff.
• In 2013, 33 miners perished when a tunnel collapsed at Rio Tinto’s Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesia – the largest portion of the total of 41 deaths at their global operations during that year which international trade union IndustriAll claims the company should have done more to prevent.
• Locals have blamed the Grasberg mine for pollution affecting the environment and population.
• In Madagascar, activists have accused Rio Tinto of “land grabbing and environmental devastation”.
• A lawsuit has been filed against Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon mine in the US state of Utah for five-year breaches in air pollution regulations. The organisations that brought the case claim, that on some days the dust from the mine has a similar “effect on people who are consistently outdoors” as “smoking a pack of cigarettes a day”
• In Mongolia, indigenous nomadic herders have raised concerns that an expansion of Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in the Gobi desert would threaten the integrity of the local ecosystem along with their access to fresh water.
Of course Rio Tinto also made over $1 billion in profits last year. I guess in the minds of the company’s executives that justifies the occasional mishap.
- Andreas is a freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter:@Andreas_Spath
Getting Fortune 500 To Invest Much More In Renewable Energy (VIDEO) Clean Technic a 23 April 14 Last week, RMI’s program to significantly scale the commitment by Fortune 500 companies to source renewable energy was chosen as one of six winners at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit’s Finance for Resilience (“FiRe”) event. FiRe is designed to identify the best proposals to spur increased investment in renewables and scale them as quickly as possible.
RMI’s plan is to create a Business Renewables Resource Center that will help to double clean energy cash flows by 2019 by increasing clean energy procurement by large commercial and industrial companies. While the Center will initially focus on the U.S. market, the capability will effectively travel within these large corporations to other countries…. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/22/fortune-500-double-source-renewable-energy/#2QK86PoTqu7xtXtb.99
As nuclear power dies, solar rises http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/22/opinion/hayes-denman-solar-power/ By Denis Hayes and Scott Denman April 22, 2014 (CNN) – At long last, this Earth Day we celebrate the true dawn of the Solar Age. That sunrise is hastened, here and abroad, by the slow demise of the once-touted “too-cheap-to-meter” Atomic Age of nuclear power.
As utilities find nuclear power less and less cost effective, new solar photovoltaic installations in the United States are springing up. New solar installations in 2013 reached a record 4.2 gigawatts, bringing the total to 10. On average, one gigawatt of solar photovoltaics powers 164,000 U.S. homes. That means power for 1.6 million homes.
Worldwide, in 2013, solar power installations grew by 38 gigawatts, from 96 to 134. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013, in the preceding year, 45 gigawatts of wind and 32 gigawatts of solar power were installed worldwide, compared with a net addition of just 1.2 gigawatts of nuclear.
Hastening this energy revolution is the nuclear industry’s Achilles heel: an aging, dangerous reactor fleet that is increasingly uncompetitive and new reactor designs that are too expensive to build.
Last year, utilities permanently shuttered five more reactors, lowering the number of operating units in the United States to fewer than 100 for the first time in two decades. Utility owners canceled at least nine planned upgrades of existing reactors, deeming the investments no longer economically justifiable.
Additionally, nine planned new nuclear reactors were axed in 2013, an indication of how rapidly things have changed. Just five years ago, utilities applied for licenses to construct at least 27 new reactors. By the close of 2013, only four of those reactor projects were still alive.
Ironically, Warren Buffett, arguably the world’s greatest capitalist, has emerged as the poster child for this dramatic shift. In June 2013, Buffett’s MidAmerican utility threw in the towel after a failed three-year legislative battle to require Iowa electric customers to foot the bill for the design and construction of a prototype small modular reactor. Mainstream groups like AARP vigorously opposed that fiscally imprudent investment. Earlier, MidAmerican canceled another proposed reactor in Idaho on the grounds it was not worth the money.
What’s significant about this about-face on nuclear by the highly regarded “Oracle of Omaha” is that Buffett instead decided to install656 large wind turbines at a cost of $1.9 billion in Iowa, and has gone “all-in” with multibillion dollar bets on utility-scale wind and solar power and other renewable energy facilities throughout the West. Not just Wall Street wizards are shifting investment outlooks and strategies. Regulators and industry officials alike exude confidence that this is the era for solar, wind and other green energy technologies. In August 2013, John Wellinghoff, then chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, observed that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything … It could double every two years.”
In his annual State of the Union address in January, President Obama highlighted this auspicious trend by praising solar’s rapid growth, announcing that, “every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar. …”
While nuclear has flat-lined in the marketplace, statistics demonstrating solar’s growth actually underestimate the total contribution to our country’s electrical supply from solar. This is because nonutility and small-scale — residential and commercial rooftop — photovoltaic systems don’t show up as electric generation in the industry’s statistics. The utilities that compile generation statistics view rooftop solar electricity, used on site, not as power generation but as a reduction in demand! If it’s not sold by a utility, it’s not “real” power.
In fact, one of the authors built a six-story office building in Seattlethat produced more electricity on its roof last year than it used. If this can be done in Seattle, the cloudiest major city in the contiguous 48 states, it can be done anywhere.In 2013, America, and the world, crossed the threshold to a sustainable, ultimately nonnuclear, carbon-free energy future. While much remains to be done and there is a long way to go, this Earth Day is especially meaningful and inspiring for those of us who have spent our careers pursuing this essential goal. We can see the clear outline of a sustainable energy future that our children, our economy and our planet can live with.
UV-radiation data to help ecological research, Eureka Alert 22April 14 Many research projects study the effects of temperature and precipitation on the global distribution of plant and animal species. However, an important component of climate research, the UV-B radiation, is often neglected. The landscape ecologists from UFZ in collaboration with their colleagues from the Universities in Olomouc (Czechia), Halle and Lüneburg have processed UV-B data from the U.S. NASA space agency in such a way that they can be used to study the influence of UV-B radiation on organisms. Continue reading
JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER $14BN LEAP OF FAITH: BANDT HTTP://WWW.ADAMBANDT.COM/JOINT_STRIKE_FIGHTER_14BN_LEAP_OF_FAITH_BANDT 23 April 14
Greens Acting Leader Adam Bandt today said that Tony Abbott’s plan to spend close to $14 billion on 58 plagued joint strike fighter jets was a poor use of taxpayer funds at a time of supposed Budget restraint.
“Tony Abbott’s priority should be pensions not poorly performing planes,” said Mr Bandt.
“Tony Abbott is taking us on a $14bn leap of faith. So much for the Budget emergency.
“The JSF project has been plagued by delays, overruns and blowouts. There are even doubts about the jet’s performance capability.
“The Government should be 100% certain before spending close to $14 billion of taxpayers’ money that the jets are fit for purpose and genuinely in the national interest. “There are too many uncertainties over this project for Australia to commit to it in this way,” said Mr Bandt.
92% Sure: Non-ionizing Cell Phone Radiation Cancer Potential Found in 76 of 80 Studies Peer Reviewed Scientists find cell phone radiation exposure creates cellular imbalances known to cause cancer in 92% of peer reviewed studies on ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). RF Safe suggest precautionary measures to reduce excessive RF exposure even at athermic levels. San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) April 22, 2014
According to RF Safe, Scientists confirm non-ionizingcell phone radiation and ionizing UV radiation from the sun both produce a common bio-effect in living cells, the overproduction of chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen known as ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) which are proven to damage DNA – a precursor for cancer and many other health effects.
“Unexpectedly, a strong non-thermal character of biological effects” has been documented, the group of scientists wrote.
In the peer reviewed editorial “Low intensity radio-frequency radiation: a new oxidant for living cells” in the scientific journal “Oxidants and Antioxidants in Medical Science” on March 29th 2014 a group Scientists reported that of 80 studies, they had assessed, 92,5 % (= 76 studies) confirmed that mechanisms of inflicting cellular damage happened at below thermal levels.http://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/65/65-1394615302.pdf?t=1398177912
Low intensity radio-frequency radiation (RFR) emitted by wireless phone devices “could lead to mutagenic effects through expressive oxidative damage of DNA”, because “the substantial overproduction of ROS in living cells under low intensity RFR exposure could cause a broad spectrum of health disorders and diseases, including cancer in humans”………. http://www.prweb.com/releases/cell-phone-radiation/cancer-studies-ros-dna/prweb11784604.htm
Noel Wauchope, 22 April 14, And, more importantly, when will The Age restore balance with an Australian documentary on nuclear/uranium issues, such as one of David Bradbury’s films?
Early this month The Age TV prominently featured “Pandora’s Promise”, so people across Australia could watch this glossy piece of advertising from the American nuclear front group, The Breakthrough Institute.
Today, I wasn’t able to find that nuclear infomercial on The Age’s TV site. Which is a little reassuring – they seem to be not continuing the promotion.
However, I am disappointed that I have not received a reply to my fully addressed, signed and posted.letter to The Age:
PO Box 257 Melbourne VIC 3001
3 April 2014
I came across The Age TV site, and found the Breakthrough Institute’s film “Pandora’s Promise” there.
I had recently reviewed this film, on its Australian premiere in Melbourne, and found it to be very glossy and engaging, but essentially a promotional feature for the nuclear industry.
So it would bring in some balance if The Age were to show a film with a different point of view – and perhaps an Australian film, rather than American. David Bradbury, for example, has made a number of films on nuclear/uranium issues – http://www.frontlinefilms.com.au/
Can you tell me how The Age came to be showing this film? I assume that Robert Stone and the Breakthrough Institute did not pay The Age to show it