Australian news, and some related international items

February 6: the week in nuclear news in Australia


UN Panel Report finds in favour of Julian Assange

As usual, all seems to be quiet in this sleepy land of Oz. And yet, and yet – the nuclear lobby is manipulating away as usual, with THE AUSTRALIAN and South AUSTRALIA’s ADVERTISER as its mouthpieces.  We are now being told yet again how essential it is to have a centralised nuclear waste dump – for medical reasons, of course. Not true, as Australia’s Medical Association for the Prevention of War reminds us. Australia could have cheaper, safer, non nuclear cyclotrons, at hospitals, to produce medical radioisotopes. No need for that Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

There’s a Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Lucas Heights Nuclear Waste Management Facilities.

Jolly Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg says radiation anxieties are based on myth.

Queensland government rejects any nuclear waste dump plan. Queensland disused coal power site could be solar station this year.

South Australia. South Australian community in Kimba alarmed: nuclear waste site “at Minister’s discretion”.   South Australia’s Port Augusta at the crossroads: clean renewable energy, or dirty nuclear? Port Augusta Council to consider DP Energy’s big solar/wind project.  AUSTRALIAN NUCLEAR ASSOCIATION wants nuclear reactors on Spencer Gulf.

Continuing my reviews of Pro Nuclear Submissions to the Royal CommissionAustralian Government Submission. That submission also recommends cyclotrons as a method to produce medical isotopes!  Charles Waite’s Submission wants tax-payer to buy Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Christopher Camarsh touts underwater nuclear reactors 

New South Wales. Community opposition might stop Hill End nuclear waste dump plan : U-turn by MP John Cobb on nuclear policy

Western Australia. Endangered Marsupial Mole and more at Proposed Australia-Japan (Toro) Uranium Mine in Western Australia, Comment Deadline 8 Feb 2016.

ACT. Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm approved

Victoria. Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power station launches global campaign for 1,000GW of solar

Renewable energy an economic boon for Australia’s drought affected rural communities. Turnbull copying Abbott as destroyer of renewables, stripping Australian Renewable Energy Agency.  AFL Footee Chief Gillon McLachlan a neanderthal anti-wind crusader

Coal and gas.Massive Adani coal mine halted indefinitely due to poor coal market.  AGL pulls out of CSG plan in Gloucester as NSW and Queensland projects are abandoned.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

UN report finds in favour of Julian Assange

Assange also remains fearful of a potential future extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury has been looking into whether to prosecute him over WikiLeak’s publishing activities……..

 the former chair of the UN working group, Mads Andenas, defended its finding, saying: “There is no doubt that the normal course of action for the Swedish authorities would have been to interview Assange in London. The extradition request was disproportionate

flag-UN.Julian Assange: ‘sweet’ victory soured by British and Swedish rejection
No release in sight despite UN panel deciding WikiLeaks founder is being arbitrarily detained at Ecuador embassy,
Guardian, ,, in Gothenberg, and   5 Feb 16 A UN panel may have found that Julian Assange is subject to “arbitrary detention” and called for him to be allowed to walk free, but the WikiLeaks founder remains exactly where he has been for the past 44 months – inside Ecuador’s London embassy and locked in a three-nation war of words.

Britain and Sweden immediately rejected the UN report, which declared that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” since his arrest in 2010 and during his lengthy stay in the embassy, where he sought asylum in June 2012. The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, described the findings as “ridiculous” and the Australian as a “fugitive from justice”.

However, the panel’s findings, leaked on Thursday and published in full on Friday morning, were a welcome victory for Assange, and a moment he intended to savour fully. At 4.01pm he emerged on to the balcony of the west Londonembassy to greet a crowd of several hundred supporters and journalists, pausing first, just briefly, to glance at the sky he has rarely seen for more than three years.

“How sweet it is,” said Assange, holding aloft a copy of the UN report while supporters shouted: “We love you, Julian!” It had been, he said, “a victory of historical importance”, and a decision reached after a process to which both Britain and Sweden had made submissions. “They lost. UK lost; Sweden lost.”

The Swedish government, however, has insisted the report changes nothing, and that it cannot interfere in an independent prosecutor’s ongoing attempt to extradite Assange for questioning over an allegation of rape dating from 2010, which he denies.

Meanwhile, for Ecuador – the Australian’s (mostly) willing host – the findings meant it was time for the two countries to allow Assange to walk free, and to compensate both him and them for the lengthy period he has been holed up in one of its few rooms……

After exhausting all his legal options in the UK and Sweden some time ago, there is no question that the report represents a boost for Assange’s legal team. Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Wikileaks reveals corruption in uranium companies in Central African Republic

logo-WikileaksThe New Dirty War for Africa’s uranium and mineral rights  Wikileaks , Friday 5 February , WikiLeaks releases a collection of documents that open up a corrupt multi-billion dollar war by Western and Chinese companies grab uranium and other mining rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) and escape paying for the environmental consequences. Among the hundreds of pages in this publication are detailed maps of mining rights, mining contracts with illegal kickbacks and secret investigative reports. The documents have been long sought by fraud investigators. In December 2015 a case was filed against Areva, alleging corruption related to the €1.8 billion purchase of three uranium mines in 2007.

Effective oversight process by the local authorities is subverted either by duping state officials with deceiving front companies, such as the UN registered World Sports Alliance (WSA), now recycled into a cover for mining companies, or by corrupting them through the payment of ‘cash bonuses’. After a profitable exploitation of resources, companies such as Areva – a French multinational group specialising in nuclear power – abandon the country, leaving behind nuclear contamination without having launched any of the promised investments.  ………

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Volcanic eruption just a few miles from Japan’s Sendai nuclear power plant

Sakurajima Volcano erupts violently just a few miles away from nuclear power plant [good video and pictures]  MIRROR UK, 5 FEB 2016 BY ELAINE LINES

Fountains of lava spewed out of the mountain but there were no reports of any immediate damage. A Japanese volcano about 30 miles from a nuclear plant violently erupted last week, shooting ash nearly 2 km into the night sky.

Fountains of lava spewed from the Sakurajima mountain, but there were no immediate report of damage and operations at the power station were not affected.

Following what they termed an “explosive eruption,” Japan’s Meteorological Agency raised the warning level on the peak to grade three, meaning people should not approach the mountain.

  • Kazuhiro Ishihara, a professor at Kyoto University, told NHK national television: “It appears that stones have been thrown about 2 km from the crater, but this area is quite far from any communities.”

    Television footage showed red streams of lava bursting from the side of the volcano, but Ishihara said he thought the impact of the eruption would not be that serious…….

  • Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” – a seismically active horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean – and has more than 100 active volcanoes.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Problems of safety, regulation and cost hamper China’s planned nuclear power expansion

The efforts to develop a set of regulation have so far failed because of the disagreement among various government agencies, nuclear companies and the tension between the central and provincial governments. The fragmented regulatory authority, the rivalry among government agencies, and inadequate human capacity of regulatory agencies are the key factors undermining the governance and regulatory capacity in China.
Finally, China’s nuclear future faces the challenge of the energy reality: as the economy has been undergoing structural changes, demand for electricity has slowed down.
China’s contested nuclear future The expansion of China’s nuclear power production faces some serious challenges, Asia and Pacific Policy Society,  XU YI-CHONG, 5 Feb 1q6  “…… meet the target of 58GW nuclear power capacity in operation by 2020, China would have to more than double the size of the current nuclear capacity. This means at least another 40 reactors would have to be built. At present, China has 31 reactors in operation located in 16 sites, all along the coastline.
An immediate challenge is where to put another 40 reactors. The nuclear industry in China does not think it is ready to build them in highly populated inland provinces, even though some provinces have been pushing for the central government to allow them to build nuclear power plants. Two related siting challenges are: firstly, it has become increasing difficult to get public acceptance of large infrastructure projects, especially nuclear power plants Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

​Calm heads and clear information needed on nuclear medicine and waste claims 

Medical Association for the Prevention of War, 5 Feb 16 Media reports today linking continued access to nuclear medicine to the development of a new national nuclear waste facility do not correctly reflect the situation or advance considered discussion of these issues, according to leading national public health group the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW).
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which runs the Lucas Heights reactor, has increased pressure on the waste dump selection process by saying it will run out of storage capacity by early 2017, and will have to stop making medical isotopes for nuclear medicine use. This statement omits many facts. 
ANSTO has quietly decided to develop a reactor based export industry for medical isotopes, to supply 30% of the world market. This plan, made with no public debate or inquiry, would very significantly increase waste from reactor use. 
In contrast, Canada had an extensive public review of its reactor production in 2009, and decided it did not wish to continue using a reactor to produce isotopes. Reasons included lack of reliable supply (reactors only operate 80% of the year, and do break down from time to time), expense to the taxpayer of the production, and the burden of nuclear waste left in Canada due to international use. 
Medical isotope production
The Canadians have developed proven methods of isotope production using cyclotrons (which does not generate reactor waste), with a successful pilot in January 2015. They are now in the process of scaling up and getting regulatory approvals for this, and look to be able to supply Canada in the next 3-5 years. 
It should be noted that using medical isotope produces extremely little waste. It is reactor production of isotopes that needs public debate and scrutiny. 
We can continue with ANSTO’s business plan, and export to supply the world market. This will leave Australia with vastly increased burden of nuclear waste from international nuclear medicine use, and is the more expensive option.
We can return to business as usual supplying Australia, which means we produce isotopes less than one day a week (not five days a week), with a subsequent major decrease in radioactive waste. This would enable all parties to plan world’s best practice storage in a rational and calm manner. We could further partner with Canada and work to develop cyclotron production of isotopes at commercial scale in Australia. 
This is cheaper and more reliable than reactor production, and does not leave communities, taxpayers and future generations with a nuclear waste burden that will last for millennia. And unlike a nuclear reactor, it poses almost no accident, proliferation or terrorist risks. We do not need to choose between access to nuclear medicine and the time and processes needed to advance responsible radioactive waste management. 

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Lucas Heights Nuclear Waste Management Facilities

Upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities at Lucas Heights House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, 5 Feb 16 
text-wise-owlThe Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today announced that it is conducting an inquiry into the upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

ANSTO’s submission notes that current storage facilities will reach full capacity early in 2017 and although locations for a new facility are being considered, the new facility is not expected to be operational until 2020.

The inquiry will examine existing low and intermediate-level solid waste facilities at Lucas Heights that require extension and upgrade, with extension works for the low-level solid waste facilities expected to be completed by April 2017, and works for the intermediate-level facilities to be completed by June 2018.

In addition to upgrading and extending storage capacity, works will include upgrading ventilation and security systems, electrical infrastructure and surrounding roads.The estimated cost of the project is $22.3 million and it is anticipated that the Committee will conduct public and in-camera hearings for the inquiry in the near future.

Further information on the public hearing will be available soon on theCommittee’s website.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 10 March 2016.

NB the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is neither involved in the tendering process nor the awarding of contracts. Enquiries on those matters should be addressed to ANSTO.

For media comment – Office of Senator Dean Smith (Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works) (08) 9481 0349 Committee Secretariat (02) 6277 4636Full details on the project are available on the Committee’s website.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Queensland government rejects any nuclear waste dump plan

Queensland--antinukeQueensland says ‘no’ to national radioactive dump plan February 3, 2016 senior reporter The Palaszczuk government has ruled out supporting any plan to build a national radioactive waste storage facility anywhere in Queensland.

That includes Oman Ama, the small town on the Cunningham Highway between Inglewood and Warwick, where a private landowner had put forward his property as a potential radioactive waste site.

Information from the Australian government project confirms intermediate-level radioactive waste would be “temporarily” stored at the chosen facility for many years, while the majority of radioactive waste would be low-level.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says intermediate-level radioactive waste “contains higher radioactivity levels than low level waste. It requires shielding when handled. Intermediate level waste – generated during operation of a nuclear power plant – consists mostly of ion exchange resins used to clean the water circulating through the reactor.”

Queensland has now written to the Australian government and asked that all potential Queensland radioactive waste storage sites be removed from the Australian government’s shortlist of six potential sites.

This was revealed in a letter on January 25, 2016, written on behalf of State Development Minister Anthony Lynham, to one of the opponents of the proposed radioactive waste dump.

Private land holder Gordon Donovan – who owns land at Oman Oma, suggested his property as a radioactive dump. The federal government has offered $10 million for the community which is eventually chosen to accept the waste.

The January 25 2016 letter, from Dr Lynham’s policy advisor, says the Queensland government will not support “in any circumstances” a radioactive waste storage facility in Queensland.

I wish to advise that the Queensland government does not support, in any circumstances, anywhere in Queensland being utilised for radioactive waste storage,” the letter says.

“Minister Lynham has specifically written to the Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, asking that he remove Queensland sites from the Australian government’s shortlist for the storage of radioactive waste.”

The decision was welcomed by Bob Morrish, from the lobby group Friends of Oman Ama which is effectively southern Darling Downs grazing land with a single service station.

“It is very heartening to us to see that the state government will back their legislation dating back to 2007; that’s their Prohibition of Nuclear Facilities Act,” Mr Morrish said……..

February 5, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Minister Josh Frydenberg says radiation anxieties are based on myth

Minister dismisses scare campaign, urges residents to embrace opportunity of nuclear waste dump, Courier Mail February 5, 2016  QUEENSLANDERS have been urged not to be scared of radioactive waste, but to ­embrace the opportunities a nuclear dump could bring.

Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg said Queenslanders should not be panicked by nuclear because most fears were based on myth.

Frydenberg radiation

The Federal Government has moved to intervene in the debate after a protest campaign in the tiny locality of Oman Ama, near Inglewood, 250km southwest of Brisbane.

A property owner has ­offered his land to the Government for a mega low-waste ­nuclear dump and it is one of Mr Frydenberg’s six preferred sites across Australia.

Mr Frydenberg told The Courier-Mail community feedback was important and up to three sites would soon be short-listed.

“It is also important to remember the number of benefits that will flow to the final chosen community,” he said……..

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer: the epidemic linked to ionising radiation

Studies of Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki found the cancer with the greatest increase was thyroid cancer.

  • A U.S. government survey of cancer rates among residents of the Marshall Islands, who were exposed to U.S. bomb testing in the 1950s, found thyroid cancer outpaced all others.
  • A 1999 federal study estimated that exposure to I-131 from bomb testing in Nevada caused as many as 212,000 Americans to develop thyroid cancer.
  • A 2009 book on the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster found soaring levels of local thyroid cancer rates after the meltdown, especially among children, and workers called “liquidators,” who cleaned up the burning plant.
  • More recently, studies have documented thyroid cancer rates in children near Fukushima, Japan, site of the 2011 meltdown, to be 20 to 50 times above the expected rate.

thyroid-cancer-papillaryAN INVISIBLE EPIDEMIC  Can an epidemic really sneak up on us like this?   By Janette Sherman and Joseph Mangano February 4, 2016 Is it possible for an epidemic to be invisible?

Since 1991 the annual number of newly documented cases of thyroid cancer in the United States has skyrocketed from 12,400 to 62,450. It’s now the seventh most common type of cancer.

Relatively little attention is paid to the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that wraps around the throat. Many don’t even know what the gland does. But this small organ (and the hormone it produces) is crucial to physical and mental development, especially early in life.

Cancer of the thyroid also gets little attention, perhaps because it is treatable, with long-term survival rates more than 90 percent. Still, the obvious question is what is causing this epidemic, and what can be done to address it?

Recently, there has been a debate in medical journals, with several authors claiming that the increase in thyroid cancer is the result of doctors doing a better job of detecting the disease at an earlier stage. A team of Italian researchers who published a paper last January split the difference, citing increased rates and better diagnosis. But as rates of all stages of thyroid cancer are soaring, better detection is probably a small factor.

So, what are the causes?

The Mayo Clinic describes a higher frequency of occurrence of thyroid cancer in women (not a telling clue, unless more is known about what predisposes women to the condition). It mentions inherited genetic syndromes that increase risk, although the true cause of these syndromes aren’t known. And Mayo links thyroid cancer to exposure to radiation. The latter is perhaps the only “cause” for which there is a public policy solution.

In the atomic age, radioactive iodine (chiefly Iodine-131) has proliferated, from atom bomb explosions and now from nuclear power reactors. Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Renewable energy an economic boon for Australia’s drought affected rural communities

logo-ARENARenewable energy drought-proofing our farms  February 3, 2016 ANDREW THOMSON The Weekly Times 
AS Australian farmers and firefighters endure El Nino and world leaders agree on emissions targets to manage climate change, it is time to look again at the role of renewable energy.

Renewable energy is not only a tool to provide clean energy and control the emissions that are changing our climate. It is also a growth industry offering employment and revenue opportunities almost exclusively in regional and rural communities.

For many farming landowners, such as Peter, Leigh and David Watts, of Yeungroon, featured in The Weekly Times last week, lease payments from turbines are a way to drought-proof farms by ensuring ­ongoing income in tough times.


There is enormous potential to grow the partnerships between rural communities and renewable energy providers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has signalled a new approach to ­renewable energy and this has given businesses such as energy company Acciona the confidence to make major investments in Australia.

Last month, it announced plans to progress the Mt Gellibrand wind farm proposal, which would provide clean power to more than 100,000 households. The project would create more than 100 jobs in the building phase, about 10 ongoing roles, and deliver substantial revenue for the life of the wind farm to landowners, council and the wider community.

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target has generated $18.5 billion of investment and, under the revised target, we expect to see at least ­another $10 billion by 2020.

 Job creation alone has considerable impact on regional economies.
 According to the Clean Energy Australia Report 2014 from the Clean Energy Council, the renewable ­energy industry employed more than 20,000 people last year, and that figure will grow as the industry grows.

Today the industry employs more people than the coal-generation ­sector in Australia. With stable policy settings, a clear direction on emissions targets and an understanding that Australia requires a more sophisticated approach to ­energy policy, the renewables sector is well placed to innovate and grow.

Improving technology in the wind sector means we can now generate more electricity from fewer turbines and maintain an income stream for landowners, councils and community organisations in regional and rural communities. It is my hope regional Australia and the renewables sector can grow together.  Andrew Thomson is managing ­director of energy company Acciona

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull – a snake in the grass over renewable energy?

Like Abbott, Turnbull has allowed the terms of the appointed board members of ARENA to expire, meaning that the supposedly independent agency is now governed solely by the secretary of Greg Hunt’s Environment Department. The board of the CCA has been largely replaced by advisers and ex-Coalition MPs sympathetic to the Coalition’s approach to climate change.

Like Abbott, Turnbull is hiding behind a climate policy that he contemptuously dismissed as a “fig leaf”. Despite signing up to the Paris climate agreement and its ambitious target of capping temperatures “well below” 2 degrees, and possibly as low as 1.5 degrees, the Coalition continues a policy plan that assumes temperature gains of 4 degrees.

Turnbull destroys renewables


Parkinson-Report-Was the renewable energy industry better off under Abbott? Giles Parkinson, Crikey, 4 Feb 16 At least under Tony Abbott the renewable sector knew where it stood. But what is going under Turnbull? Under Abbott, the message was clear and unequivocal: we don’t want youwe don’t like the way you look; you’re causing health problems for people; and your technology doesn’t work anyway. Besides, coal is good for humanity.

The message was clear from top to bottom. Abbott and his treasurer found wind turbines to be offensive, his chief business adviser thought climate science was a giant hoax, and the pro-nuclear head of his review into renewable energy said wind and solar were not useful. Junior MPs and ministers proved echo-chambers for the myth-making of anti-wind social media sites. There was never any doubt as to that government’s intentions.

Under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, the rhetoric has (mostly) changed; the gratuitous insults and personal prejudice are (largely) gone, although coal is still considered to be good for humanity and to solve hunger. But policy has not changed, and the industry has little to show for the change in leadership.

The Turnbull government has begun 2016 in the same way that the Abbott government started 2014 and 2015 — with legislation on the table that calls for the dismantling of the government’s key agencies: the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Climate Change Authority.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters highlighted the move on her Facebook page on Monday and wondered why. Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Block the Trans Pacific Partnership!


sign-thisGetUp! campaign: Dangerous deal Find out what this deal could mean for you and your family, then sign the petition calling on Parliament to block the TPP!

Trade Minister Andrew Robb is about to sign Australia onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.
The TPP is bad news for democracy, as it will allow multinational corporations to sue our government over laws that protect our health and our environment.

But it’s not over yet. We still have a chance to derail the secretive TPP agenda when it’s put to a vote in the Senate. …Read more & find TPP facts, video & online petition template at:

February 5, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

AGL pulls out of CSG plan in Gloucester as NSW and Queensland projects are abandoned

Gas giant AGL has abandoned natural gas projects in Queensland and New South Wales, sparking celebrations in rural NSW where opponents had feared a billion-dollar coal seam gas plan could devastate a community.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Massive Adani coal mine halted indefinitely due to poor coal market

Parkinson-Report-Adani puts Galilee coal mine on hold pending recovery in coal price, REneweconomy, By  on 4 February 2016 The Indian mining and energy giant Adani Enterprises appears to have put development of its massive and controversial $16 billion Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin on hold – until coal prices show signs of a solid rebound. Which could be never.

A report from brooking house Axis Capital in India this week quotes Adani management as saying that no capital expenditure is planned by the company for the project until there is “visibility” of a rebound in the coal price.

Given that international coal prices are at record lows, and most analysts predict further falls as the commodity faces increased competition from renewables, and major economies turn away from coal due to environmental and climate impacts, it suggests that Adani accepts that the Galilee Basin may not get developed……

February 5, 2016 Posted by | General News, Queensland | Leave a comment


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