Australian news, and some related international items

Unable to sell them at home, Westinghouse trying to flog uneconomic nuclear reactors to Australia

buyer-beware-1Westinghouse eyes Australian nuclear potential, links with local suppliers, SMH October 8,  15, Angela Macdonald-Smith and Jenny Wiggins Nuclear technology giant Westinghouse sees the retirement of old coal-fired power plants in Australia as an opportunity for nuclear power and is positioning itself early to inform the political and public debate.

In Sydney to announce a tie-up with three local suppliers, Westinghouse chief executive Danny Roderick said the Japanese-owned company “wants to make sure that the facts are out there” on the safety of new-generation nuclear reactors.

He said that convincing the 8 per cent of the Australian public that is undecided about nuclear power would create “an overwhelming majority of people in Australia that would support a nuclear new-build”.

The company, part of Toshiba Corporation, already has strong links with uranium suppliers in Australia, and sees the latest step as “a very logical fit” to build on those and explore local manufacturing capacity for a new reactor……….

Public perception still an issue

Nuclear power made “a lot of sense” for Australia, Mr Chilcote added. “Look at what brown coal and the associated emissions are doing on the environment. There’s a lot less waste out of nuclear, the hardest part is overcoming the public perception.”

The option of nuclear power for Australia is being examined within a South Australian royal commission, with findings due next year. Meanwhile, the federal government’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, of 26 to 28 per cent cuts from 2005 levels by 2030, and the anticipated retirement of ageing coal-fired generators have also set the scene for discussion.

“In the next decade you have several very large coal plants that are going to need to be retired, and you’re going to have to choose to build something to replace those,” Mr Roderick said.

“If you’re going to talk about carbon reduction and greenhouse gas reductions you’re going to have to bring nuclear into the mix.”

Mr Roderick’s discussions this week included federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Port Adelaide member Mark Butler and senior officials from the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg.

He has been pointing out that Westinghouse’s AP1000 nuclear plant uses “passive” technology that doesn’t require electricity to be able to safely shut itself down, averting a Fukushima-like situation. This type of plant is under construction in the US and is set to be used in the UK, China and India………..

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S SHAME: getting UN climate draft to drop action to help climate refugees

ocean-heatingUN drops plan to help move climate-change affected people, Guardian, , 7 Oct 15  Australia opposed the plan for a group to assist migration, and it has been left off the draft agreement for UN climate talks in Paris Australia’s opposition to the creation of a body to help people escaping the ravages of climate change appears to have paid off, with the idea dropped from the draft agreement for the crucial UN climate talks in Paris.

Kiribati 15

A previous draft of the deal to be thrashed out by nations included a “climate change displacement coordination facility” that would provide “organised migration and planned relocation”, as well as compensation, to people fleeing rising sea levels, extreme weather and ruined agriculture.

However, this reference has been removed in a revised text ahead of the December climate conference negotiations. Australia opposed the facility, although Guardian Australia understands the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has shown interest in the issue of displacement.

“Australia does not see the creation of the climate change displacement coordination facility as the most effective or efficient way to progress meaningful international action to address the impacts of climate change,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said. “Australia is already working closely with our Pacific partners on these important issues.”

Australia had spent more than $50m in climate resilience projects in the Pacific and contributed another $200m to the Green Climate Fund.

Opposition to the coordination facility is not shared by Australia’s traditional allies, with representatives from the US, British and French governments indicating they were open to the idea……..

The impact of climate change is anticipated to displace up to 250 million people worldwide by 2050, including many in low-lying Pacific islands such as Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

In areas of the Pacific, sea level is rising by 1.2cm a year, four times faster than the global average. For coral-based islands two to three metres above sea level this has resulted in communities being relocated, and drinking water and crops are threatened by salt water inundation. Recent research suggests islands will not be submerged but will change shape and height, posing difficulties for fixed infrastructure.

“Why on earth would Australia not support a coordination facility?” said Phil Glendenning, president of the Refugee Council. “We are talking about the most vulnerable people on the planet who are facing threats to their food security, seeing their water supplies diminish and their entire cultures at risk.

“The world is going to have to deal with this displacement. We need to get on the front foot. Australia can’t say we are doing enough. People in Kiribati and Tuvalu are the canaries in the coalmine and they are looking to Australia.”

Last year the Kiribati government bought 20 sq km of land on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji islands, in case its people cannot be moved internally. It has a policy called “migration with dignity” if its cluster of 33 coral atolls becomes inhabitable…….

Relocation of people is occurring across the Pacific region. Dozens of villages in Fiji will be moved, and 2,000 people from the Carteret atoll of Papua New Guinea will be transferred to mainland Bougainville, a three-hour trip on a wooden boat, because of salt intrusion and destructive tides.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Talking about bushfires: we should be talking about climate change too

Deal with the cause of bushfires, not just the symptoms, Canberra Times,  October 8, 2015 -Ellen Sandell

bushfireThe talk is all about the fires, there is also another conversation we should be having: the conversation about climate change. “…..Today, 100 bushfires are raging across Victoria and it’s not even November. The footage we’re seeing of houses and properties going up in smoke are gut-wrenching. Most dinner table conversations in Victoria this week will undoubtedly focus on these fires and our collective hope that everyone we love stays safe.

But while we’re talking about these fires, there is also another conversation we should be having: the conversation about climate change.

The Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley​ said that such high temperatures and winds speeds have never been seen this early in October. These are the worst fire conditions in Victoria’s history, and we’re heading for worse with a strong El Nino coming our way.

We know that any one single extreme weather event cannot be attributed just to climate change. But we can look at the climate models and predictions, which all say that in a climate-changed world extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense.

The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO last year reported that temperatures across Australia are now, on average, almost a degree Celsius warmer than they were in 1910, and that this had led to more warm weather and extreme heat, an increase in extreme fire weather and a longer fire season.

Longer fire seasons means less time for preventative controlled burns that are supposed to happen in cooler months. Controlled burns are riskier in hot weather, as we’ve seen with one getting out of control this week……….

I want to know our governments are doing everything they can to help fight these problems at the cause, rather than just deal with the symptoms.

Unless we drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, end our dependence on polluting brown coal for power, and build clean, renewable energy, the unusually risky conditions and extreme temperatures we are seeing could become the norm. Bushfires will always be a fact of life in Australia, but we can take action now to make sure that firefighters don’t need to be on high alert for half the year, every year.

The Andrews government  was elected with a mandate for change, and they have made a start in indicating they want more renewable energy. But we must do more. We must redouble our efforts to address climate change.

This week we have been battling the symptoms – extreme weather and early bushfires – of a bigger problem. My hope is that the Andrews government realises using breath freshener won’t stop a smoker getting lung cancer, only quitting cigarettes will. Now is the time to set in motion deep changes to our energy system and economy, including weaning ourselves off brown coal, so we can combat bushfires for the long term by reducing the risk and severity of fire conditions.

Our thoughts and hopes are with those affected by the fires, and with the firefighters on the ground. But we must not let those people disappear from our minds when the blazes are eventually brought under control, and the immediate danger has passed. We must not undervalue their courage, and their sacrifice, by forgetting them when the crisis is over. Our responsibility is to do everything we can to prevent these fires in the future, including battling the extreme weather which has brought us to this point.

Ellen Sandell is the Greens MP for the state seat for Melbourne.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Expert blows the whistle on USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission

NRC-DraculaExamining the Reasons for Ending the Cancer Risk Study as given in article by USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission 6 Oct 15 Garry Morgan, U.S. Army Medical Department, Retired Director Health and Radiation Monitoring BEST/MATRR a local chapter of BREDL

One word describes this article – FALLACY. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) mission to protect the public is compromised by politicians supported by Nuclear Special Interest Groups such as the NEI, Nuclear Energy Institute, applying pressure to decrease funding to the NRC. You are supporting the nuclear industry not the public. The NRC is not an agency which has separated itself from undue political and industry influences and pressures.

A report of radiological contamination and its health effects could have been completed with less expense than $8 million dollars, accurately. The nuclear industry and the United States Government has much to hide regarding the failures to protect the public at large and in communities surrounding all nuclear facilities – this includes the uranium mining communities, the fuel facility communities, the nuclear hazardous waste communities, nuclear weapons communities and all nuclear reactor facility communities.

The nuclear industry and the regulator does not report real time ionizing radiation from emission sources from any active nuclear facility; reporting is based on averages reported annually from nuclear facility locations. This type of reporting is skewered, and lacks scientific credibility due to not reporting emissions in a real time monitoring program with accurate radiological assessments from real time monitoring reports along with community resident health evaluations.

Non-profit institutional examination of nuclear emissions and community health is demonstrating an entirely different story from that which the nuclear industry and the NRC reports. When there is contradictory evidence disputing the nuclear industry and the NRC, the NEI hires nuclear industry paid persons to contradict any information assimilated from private non-profit sources, regardless if the information is actually an accurate compilation from government sources with professional data assimilation and analysis. Example – The Browns Ferry Report <>

The examination of dispersal of radiological contaminating materials in East Tennessee presents a horror story of cancer, declining health and radionuclide contamination of the environment of East Tennessee communities along the Tennessee River and its’ tributaries. The citizens of East Tennessee have become a sacrificial group since the beginnings of the nuclear age in 1945. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the NRC are participants in this horror story of the atomic age, placing the money gained from atomic death industry before peoples health and welfare – shame on you. Shame on the NRC, DOE, and the many nuclear and nuclear defense industries for your continued deceit.

This is the million pound weight in the room – the continuous deceit and placing money before human health in civilian nuclear and nuclear contractor programs, besides the continuous building of highly radioactive nuclear waste materials. The deceit demonstrated is a continuous failure to uphold Human Reliability Standards which is a cornerstone of any nuclear program, the failure due to deceit is tantamount to a disaster awaiting an outcome.>

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nadejda Koutepova speaks on the forgotten victims of the Mayak nuclear disaster

flag_RussiaA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal,The revelation, decades later
“……….Fifteen years ago you established the NGO “Planet of Hope” in order to aid the victims of radioactive contamination from Maiak. What led you to this cause?
Nadejda Koutepova
My grandmother was a chemical engineer and she worked at the complex from the time it opened in 1948. The Soviet state wanted, like the Americans, to develop nuclear weapons, so they built a secret factory in the Siberian forest next to the closed city of Ozersk. People who worked there were forbidden from talking about their work. In 1965, my grandmother died of lymphatic cancer. I never knew her. At the time of the accident in 1957, when a container of highly radioactive waste exploded, my father was a student in Ekaterinburg. He belonged to the Komsomols (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) so he was immediately mobilized as a liquidator. He worked there for nearly five years. In 1985, he died of intestinal cancer. I was a teenager at the end of his life, and it was horrific. He lived with a colostomy bag and was consumed by alcoholism.
But it was only later that I understood what could have caused him and my grandmother to die. One fine day in 1999, I was invited to a conference on the environment organized in Chelyabinsk, the big regional city. It was there that I discovered that the whole Ozersk region is contaminated, yet the local population ignores the situation completely. Officially, the region is not polluted. The inhabitants eat mushrooms and fish in the rivers without asking any questions. This conference was a revelation. At that moment I decided to establish an NGO. I had studied law, sociology and political science at university. I wanted the inhabitants who were still there to have the means to leave and I wanted the unrecognized victims to be able to defend themselves.
In the first years of operation of the factory, 1949-52, all the highly radioactive wastes were dumped into the Techa. Cases of leukemia and premature death multiplied in the villages along the river, so the factory started managing the wastes in metal tanks. During the next decade, 34 out of 39 villages along the river were evacuated. At the same time, radioactive wastes were dumped in Lake Karachai. It was only in 1962 that the authorities announced that they would stop these practices.
In reality, the contamination of the surrounding waters never ended. In 2005, the director of the factory at Maiak, Vitali Sadovnikov, was prosecuted for having let the factory release, starting in the year 2000, tens of thousands of cubic meters of radioactive water into the Techa. Sadovnikov was given amnesty by the Duma (Russian parliament) in 2006. Nonetheless, the files on the court decision on Sadovnikov show that 30 to 40 cubic meters of radioactive water were dumped between 2001 and 2004! Since then, we haven’t even had access to the file, and the Maiak factory denies all responsibility for the contamination of the river. Continue reading

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] provisions bad for environment

text-TPP-Avaaz-petitionTrans-Pacific Partnership bad for the environment, green groups say October 7, 2015  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald  “……Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] provisions of the pact will allow large corporations to challenge any efforts to tighten environmental regulation.

“This is a watershed moment for the Liberals and the mining industry in their continuing assault against environmental protections in Australia,” Senator Whish-Wilson said. “ISDS will provide a massive chilling effect against improvements in environmental law at a local, state and federal level.”

Kelly O’Shanassy, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said it was “a very silly idea to lock in restrictions to future policy in this country”.

Corporations could now have a look at a proposed policy change and if it threatened their ability to make profit, they would go to the courts as they did to oppose the Gillard government’s plain packaging laws to curb tobacco marketing.

“It could be the plain packaging fiasco for climate change,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

With the Paris climate summit now looking increasingly likely to fall short on locking in sufficient cuts to greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees, governments will need to make regular revisions of their targets beyond this year’s summit.

The TPP is likely to limit nations’ ability to take those necessary additional steps, she said: “It means governments won’t be bold and ambitious as they should be.”

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Perth home entirely powered by solar energy shows the way

highly-recommendedPerth gets first home powered almost totally by solar BKathryn Diss A Hilton home has become the first in Perth to use the Sun to meet almost all of its power needs by storing the energy in batteries while still remaining solar-home-storage-etcconnected to the power grid. (diagram at left not realistic!) 

The home uses solar for 97 per cent of its power needs and also offloads excess supply onto the grid, in what could become a mainstream feature in the future.

Environmental scientist Josh Byrne built the home in Perth’s southern suburbs two years ago with a 10-star energy rating.

But despite having an energy efficient home solar panels on his roof, Mr Byrne was still paying power bills.

So, Curtin University’s Jemma Green proposed a battery storage trial at the home to try to further reduce his power bills. She had spent the past year researching and getting approvals for the project while seeking funding to pay for the batteries and her research.  Continue reading

October 9, 2015 Posted by | solar, storage, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Unusually high level of thyroid cancer in Fukishima children

highly-recommendedThyroid Cancer Detection by Ultrasound Among Residents Ages 18 Years and Younger in Fukushima, Japan: 2011 to 2014.   by Tsuda, Toshihide; Tokinobu, Akiko; Yamamoto, thyroid-cancer-papillaryEiji; Suzuki, Etsuji Epidemiology: Post Author Corrections: October 5, 2015 Open Access Published Ahead-of-Print

 Background: After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, radioactive elements were released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Based on prior knowledge, concern emerged about whether an increased incidence of thyroid cancer among exposed residents would occur as a result.

Methods: After the release, Fukushima Prefecture performed ultrasound thyroid screening on all residents ages <=18 years. The first round of screening included 298,577 examinees, and a second round began in April 2014. We analyzed the prefecture results from the first and second round up to December 31, 2014, in comparison with the Japanese annual incidence and the incidence within a reference area in Fukushima Prefecture.

Results: The highest incidence rate ratio, using a latency period of 4 years, was observed in the central middle district of the prefecture compared with the Japanese annual incidence (incidence rate ratio = 50; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 25, 90). The prevalence of thyroid cancer was 605 per million examinees (95% CI = 302, 1,082) and the prevalence odds ratio compared with the reference district in Fukushima Prefecture was 2.6 (95% CI = 0.99, 7.0). In the second screening round, even under the assumption that the rest of examinees were disease free, an incidence rate ratio of 12 has already been observed (95% CI = 5.1, 23).

Conclusions: An excess of thyroid cancer has been detected by ultrasound among children and adolescents in Fukushima Prefecture within 4 years of the release, and is unlikely to be explained by a screening surge.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate Change Authority gets five new board members in possible reprieve

climate-changeThe Turnbull government has appointed former National Farmers Federation head Wendy Craik and four others to the board of the Climate Change Authority for five-year terms, indicating the agency may yet be spared the axe.

The five new board members, including Ms Craik as chair, are understood to accept climate change is a serious issue to be dealt with. The Greens, though, say the board has been “stacked” with Coalition-leaning members…………

October 9, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Displacement Solutions NGO for climate refugees targets Australia as worst climate offender

climate-changeUN drops plan to help move climate-change affected people, Guardian, , 7 Oct 15  “………Advocates for displaced people argue that a new international framework needs to be created to help them, given that the UN refugee convention does not cover them because they are not fleeing persecution.

“I’d hope the UN would put a new apparatus in place. At the moment this is being dabbled in – there’s nothing systemic,” said academic Scott Leckie, founder of Displacement Solutions, an NGO that facilitates moving people displaced by climate change within their countries.

Leckie’s organisation focuses its work in five countries – Bangladesh, Colombia, Fiji, Panama and the Solomon Islands – but said climate displacement was a global problem, even in wealthy nations such as the US where people in Alaskahave had to move and Boston faces a future of being a “city of canals” because of sea level rises.

“Successful relocation is very complicated and there’s a real gap in how governments do this internally,” he said. “It may seem simple to move 30,000 people within Panama, for example, but when you get into it there is a variety of land and ethnic tensions.

Kiribati 15“The question for people on small islands is whether to stay or go, which is almost impossible to answer because the stakes are so high. Once you have people leave, you get a brain drain, investment dries up and you get into a vicious cycle of despair and poverty.

“This is solvable with political will and resources. There needs to be a coordinated human rights approach. Just as Australia takes in 12,000 Syrian refugees, there’s nothing stopping a further 1,000 places earmarked for people who have nowhere else to go in the Pacific islands.

“I think every country in the world responsible for CO2 emissions have some measure of responsibility for the predicament they’ve caused. Top of that list is Australia, given it is the worst per capita emitter in the world.”

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

PM Turnbull could end the govt’s war on wind farms; but will he?

Turnbull,-Malcolm-Bwind-farm-evil-1 It’s not too late for Malcolm Turnbull to wind up Tony Abbott’s war on wind farms
Canberra Times, October 8, 2015 Andrew Bray The Turnbull government appears ready to end Tony Abbott’s war on wind. This is welcome news, but it needs to act fast,   
Tony Abbott always loved a fight – no matter what the cost to our country. The war that he waged on wind, first as opposition leader and then as prime minister, hurt Australia in lost jobs, lost investment and lost innovation. It’s now looking as though the Turnbull government is ready to call a truce. This is welcome news, but it will need to act fast if it is to repair damage to the industry.

Abbott’s war on wind power was conducted on two fronts: destroying investment confidence, and then dismantling policies that supported renewable energy.

The confidence war began in opposition……….

The damage to what had been a viable industry was swift and extreme. In 2014 investment in large-scale renewable energy fell 88 per cent, with 2500 renewable energy jobs being lost. In Portland, 100 jobs were lost at wind tower manufacturer, Keppel Prince, punching a hole in the local economy.

Abbott was willing to destroy anything to gain a political advantage, which in the end led to his own demise. Now, it’s time for a new chapter.

Newly appointed Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg​ and reinstated Environment Minister Greg Hunt are making the right noises – describing the government’s support for renewable energy as “rock solid”. The demotion of Ian Macfarlane from the energy portfolio is another positive sign. Ditto for Maurice Newman being shown the door.

Together, these changes send strong, supportive signals to investors. The battle to damage confidence in the sector appears to be over. Now, it’s a matter of fixing policies.

While we are hearing a lot of new (positive) talk from the government, its actions tell a different story. Only just last week, thanks to the Herald, we discovered that Minister Hunt still intends to appoint the “scientific” committee on wind, and that members under consideration include a man who has likened the so-called tactics of our industry to Hitler and claims the Australian Medical Association’s support for wind power is “corrupt”.

It’s not too late for new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to undo the damage wrought by Abbott – but he must act swiftly.

Bills to abolish the CEFC and ARENA are still sitting before the Senate, and should be dumped. The deal done by Abbott with anti-wind crossbenchers should be shelved. Ambitious, long-term renewable energy targets must also be set to drive innovation and investment.

Talk will only get the Australian wind industry so far. The time for action is now.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Now is the time for the very necessary carbon tax

antnuke-relevantNow ‘right moment’ for carbon tax, IMF chief Christine Lagarde says The time is right for governments to introduce taxes on carbon emissions, which would help fight global warming and raise badly needed revenue, IMF chief Christine Lagarde says.

“It is just the right moment to introduce carbon taxes,” Ms Lagarde said at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Lima, Peru.

The issue is in the spotlight two months from a key United Nations conference in Paris tasked with delivering a comprehensive carbon-cutting pact.

Besides discouraging pollution, Ms Lagarde said, taxing greenhouse gas emissions would have the added bonus of helping governments boost their revenues at a time when many countries have dipped heavily into their “fiscal buffers” to get through a prolonged rough patch for the global economy.

“Finance ministers are looking for revenues. That’s the fate of finance ministers,” she said.

“But it’s particularly the case at the moment because many have already used a lot of their fiscal buffers… and are always in need of some fiscal buffers in order to fight the next crisis.”

Ms Lagarde urged governments to tax carbon emissions rather than rely on emissions trading, a competing system already in place in Europe in which governments essentially issue permits to pollute that can then be traded on an open market. I know that a lot of people would rather do emissions trading systems, but we believe that carbon taxation would be a lot better,” she said.

Australia scrapped its carbon tax in July last year. The Government has a target of generating 23.5 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Ms Lagarde said revenues from carbon taxes could contribute to rich nations’ funding target of $US100 billion ($139 billion) a year by 2020 to help poorer nations fight the impacts of climate change.

The world was still $US38 billion short of that target last year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a new report.

Ms Lagarde said it was also the “right moment” to eliminate energy subsidies, which the IMF says will cost the world $US5.3 trillion this year — 6.5 per cent of the global economy.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Great Artesian Basin – what will its future be?

Great-Artesian-BasinGreat Artesian Basin future up for discussion at outback forum in Alpha By Ash Moore The future of the Great Artesian Basin will be up for public discussion over the next five weeks.

The Department of Mines and Natural Resources is holding 25 public meetings around the state, starting in Alpha in the central west today.

It will create a new draft 10-year plan for the basin when the current plan expires next year.

The department’s Mark Foreman said anyone who wanted to could have their say.

“It’s something that is vital when you’re developing a plan, talking to the community, finding out what people think,” he said.

“We’ll have different views, conflicting views and the only way we can develop a plan that works and that reflects the needs of the community as well as government policy is by having these sorts of conversations.

“The challenge is to actually work out something that actually meets the needs of both sides of the community – those who are keen for additional development, while also protecting the incredibly diverse and amazing natural ecosystems of the area – as well as those existing water users who rely on the Great Artesian Basin, as you’d appreciate, during this drought time.”

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Russia’s courageous anti nuclear organisation finally forced to close down

Protest-No!highly-recommendedA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal, As the head of the NGO Planet of Hope [Planeta Nadezhd], Nadejda Koutepova has fought for fifteen years for the victims of radioactive contamination in the Urals, near the Maiak factory which, in 1957, gave the world its first nuclear catastrophe. In July, she was forced by circumstances to dissolve the NGO and leave Russia. This Friday, October 2nd, as Francois Hollande receives Vladimir Putin in Paris, she is asking for asylum in France.
Nadejda Koutepova’s story goes from the Soviet past to the Russia of today. She has been fighting unrelentingly for the last fifteen years to get recognition of the nuclear disaster which began in the Urals in 1949. She found herself under attack in 2012 when the Kremlin began clamping down on NGOs, in particular ones concerned with the military and the environment. Threatened with prosecution, she finally left her country in July.
With her departure, one of the most polluted regions of the world is losing its strongest advocate. The Ozersk region (south of Ekaterinburg in the Urals) has been widely irradiated, since the post-war period, and the contamination is still going on thanks to the continuing operations at Maiak. The name is less well-known than Chernobyl and Fukushima, but the gravity of the disaster is comparable, especially if one considers that it has been ongoing for close to sixty years and nothing has been done to resolve the contamination.
It was in 1946, at the dawn of the Cold War, that construction began on the nuclear complex. It was to produce the plutonium necessary for a Soviet atom bomb. It was built by forced labor under Stalin, close to the closed city of Ozersk, between Chelyabinsk and Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk in the Soviet period). Such closed cities near military-industrial complexes were fairly common in the Soviet Union. They didn’t appear on maps, and permits were required to enter them. In total, there were ten closed cities devoted to nuclear weapons. The first uranium-graphite reactor was opened in Maiak in 1948, and the first bomb was detonated in 1949.
Between 1949 and 1957, very large quantities of highly radioactive liquid waste were dumped into the Techa, a 240 kilometer-long river that flowed past dozens of villages. Today, the Techa is the most radioactively contaminated body of water in the world, and nearby Lake Karachai is considered one of the most polluted places on the planet.
In 1957, an explosion in a container of highly radioactive waste caused a new massive contamination along a plume that was 300 kilometers long and 30-50 kilometers wide. In Russian it is referred to as VOURS–Vostochono-Ouralski Radioactivni Sled, the Eastern Ural Radioactive Plume. This explosion was covered up for twenty years before it was revealed by the biologist Jaurès Medvedev (twin brother of the dissident historian Roy Medvedev). Medvedev, in exile in the UK, published the first article in 1976, followed by the book Nuclear Disaster in the Urals in 1988. Taking a name from the closest town on the map (Maiak still didn’t officially exist), the disaster was then designated as the Kychtym nuclear disaster.
Lake Karachai was close to Maiak and was used as a dump for masses of radioactive liquids. In the spring of 1967 it ran dry and the wind carried off radioactive sediment as far as 75 kilometers, causing large-scale contamination, notably of Cesium 137.
In addition to these three massive emissions, the Maiak complex released radioactive wastes continuously in lesser quantities. Meanwhile, the contamination problems were never resolved. According to the relevant estimates given by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the wastes dumped into the Techa in the early period, essentially between 1949 and 1951, amounted to 100 PBq (10E15 becquerels). According to Patrick Boyer of the IRSN (France’s Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire ), that is about four times as much as what Fukushima has released into the Pacific Ocean.
The releases of Strontium 90 and Cesium 137 during the 1949-51 period also contaminated the Techa floodplain, an area of 240 square kilometers where 80 square kilometers were above the Chernobyl zone limit of 3.7x10E10 Bq/km km2.
Starting in 1956, while Maiak continued to grow, storage areas were built out of natural ponds or by building dams on the Techa. Military production of plutonium ended in 1987. At the time there were seven military reactors on the site. Afterwards, Maiak was put to use for both military and civilian purposes, for producing radioactive materials, and for reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
In spite of the waste reservoirs, liquid contamination never stopped. The main dam leaked, as did creeks flowing out of the canals built to channel the water, and contaminants leached out of the soil. “These are long-term mechanisms, very long,” explains Patrick Boyer to Mediapart. “The situation is stabilized in the sense that the releases are much less than they were in the 1950s, but the leaks continue, and the Techa is going to remain very contaminated for decades.  Additionally, the lakes used as reservoirs of nuclear waste contain a considerable level of radioactivity, which constitutes a risk.”
Contamination in the Maiak complex and the surrounding area has had effects on workers and the rural population. According to a Norwegian report, in 1949, workers received a dose corresponding to 1,000 times the maximum allowed dose for nuclear workers today. The villagers along the Techa were also exposed to high levels of radiation which led to high mortality rates and chromosomal abnormalities. Even though the practices of the Cold War no longer occur, radioactive effluents still flow out. The IAEA document mentioned above notes that releases of strontium in the Techa doubled in the 2001-2004 period.
In fact, the population of the region remains exposed to a level of radioactivity which should, according to a 2011 report by CRIIRAD (Comité de recherche et d’information indépendantes sur la radioactivité), require evacuation. This was precisely one of the struggles that Nadejda Koutepova fought, but Russian authorities paid no attention. The pressures that led to her departure from Russia are symptomatic of the opacity that surrounds the Maiak site. Since 2011, scientific data on the site has no longer been available.
The following is an interview with Nadejda Koutepova that was conducted on October 2, 2015 just as Vladimir Putin was welcomed at the Élysée by Francois Hollande to discuss the wars in Ukraine and Syria………..

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Graph — Global Sea Level Rise Just Went off the Chart

Originally posted on robertscribbler:

From end 2014 through Fall of 2015 global sea levels surged. Building heat hitting +1 C above 1880s averages in the atmosphere-ocean system continued to set off a range of what appear to be ramping impacts. Thermal expansion grew more dramatic as oceans continued to heat up during what may be a record El Nino year. Rates of land ice melt continued to increase — providing a greater and greater fraction of overall global sea level rise. And global ocean currents showed signs of a melt-spurred change — which resulted in an uneven distribution of this overall rise.

We’re Going to Need A Bigger Graph

During that less than one year time, seas rose by fully 1 centimeter. That’s three times the ‘normal’ rate that’s been roughly ongoing since the early 1990s. A big bump that’s now part of a three-and-a-half-year, 3-centimeter surge. One more sign that global sea level…

View original 404 more words

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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