Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The latest in Australian nuclear news

a-cat-CANClimate change. It is a worry that Australia’ s scientifically illiterate Prime Minister Tony Abbott has, for his chief business adviser, one of the country’s leading climate change denialists. Maurice Newman makes even Tony look well-informed. Sadly, Tony has surrounded himself with yes-men. Notably, Greg Hunt , Minister Against the Environment has really sold out.  Hunt did his PhD on climate change, but is now the strongest advocate for coal mining.

Maverick politician Clive Palmer calls Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy – a “token gesture” and a waste of money, and he won’t vote for it.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) Just as Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilcox, and top investor Warren Buffett pull the plug on this uneconomic project, nuclear lobbyists seem to be succeeding in getting the Australian government to move in this direction. The government would need to overturn existing law against nuclear power, and make a massive order for a heap of these little gimmicks, that nobody else will buy.

Uranium mining.  Now here is an Australian mystery. Uranium prices continually topple yet  all the business pages tout up what a good investment is uranium. It really does look more like some kind of religious faith, rather than any sound economic analysis.

  • Four Mile uranium mine The Australian pronounces The Sun Will Rise On  Uranium, but then proceeds to describe all the problems facing South Australia’s Four Mile uranium project – warning that this new mine will be “no earnings bonanza”.  Four Mile uranium mine is supposed to start production soon, despite a coming court case.  It is largely owned by USA’s General Atomics, nuclear weapons maker, and big lobbyist of Australian State and Federal politicians.
  • Ranger mine. No resolution about who will pay to rehabilitate the radioactive mess created in Kakadu National Park. ERA desperately trying to restore investor confidence in Ranger.
  • Paladin uranium company continues in its downward spiral, with declining production and falling revenue

Finally, despite all the glowing predictions for uranium investment, the energy analysts do tell it as it really is. Greg Peel of FN Arena  is ” becoming increasingly bearish on the outlook for uranium prices, and just to add to global oversupply. Australia’s Four Mile mine in South Australia… is expected to commence production”

Joint Strike Fighter jets $12 billion purchase. Not only the Greens, but  even a Liberal MP is against this. 

 

 

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Radioactive Tour brings anti nuclear discussion to Olympic Dam, Alice Springs and Tenant Creek

AustantinukeUranium deal with India a hot topic – 23-Apr-2014 http://www.themonitor.com.au/news-articles/140423-uranium-deal-with-india-a-hot-topicThe Australian Government’s signing of a uranium export deal with India was a hot topic of discussion at the recent Olympic Dam visit by members of environmental group Friends of the Earth.

The annual radioactive tour has been operating since the 1980s, and has taken thousands of people to the heart of the industry at destinations from Melbourne to Tenant Creek.
Local BHP Billiton employees from various sectors of the Olympic Dam operation, including environmental, radiation, community and external affairs took time to show the group through the operation on Tuesday, April 16.
The tour was followed by an informal question time in Richardson Place, where members of the group particularly focused on the company’s commitment to indigenous traditional land owners and the Federal Government’s stance on direct supply or uranium to India.
A BHP Billiton spokesperson told the group the company was working closely with the traditional land owners, including through employment programs and through financial dispensation into a trust.
He said the amount of money awarded to the trust was ‘confidential’, but ‘substantial’. 
The group asked many questions regarding the company’s ethical stance on supply of Olympic Dam Uranium to countries which could be using the product to fuel their nuclear armament programs.
The topic was particularly sensitive for one Indian representative ,  who said his country’s unstable government, lack of regulation, extremist religious groups and dense population were recipes for disaster.
The representative said India’s suspected nuclear armament activities were of major concern to humanity across the globe, and that companies like BHP Billiton should have an moral and ethical commitment to ensure their uranium did not reach the hands to those planning to build nuclear weapons.
Currently, BHP Billiton and other Australian uranium miners have legislative and regulatory obligations that cover mining, processing and the transport of uranium on road and by sea. 
The onus of responsibility for the product then passes to the Government at the port of destination.
The group continued on to Alice Springs and Tenant Creek on Tuesday afternoon as part of the 14 day tour, and will return to Melbourne on Sunday, April 27.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Australian government, and Renewable Energy Panel chief Dick Warburton are fans of nuclear power

Liberal-choirWind and solar generation half the cost of nuclear REneweconomy, By  on 23 April 2014 “………in Australia, the government looks to be eyeing nuclear power as a clean energy option for the country’s future, alongside its dreams of abundant “clean coal.”Last year, an issues paper released ahead of the Abbott government’s energy white paper noted that slow development in carbon capture and storage, and difficulties with hydro, meant nuclear technologies continued “to present an option for future reliable energy that can be readily dispatched into the market.”

And Dick Warburton, Abbott’s hand-picked head of the federal government’s RET review panel, hasrevealed himself as a big fan of nuclear energy, describing it once as the only alternative to fossil fuel generation.

In an article published in Australia’s Quadrant magazine in 2011, Warburton and his c0-author wrote that “except for nuclear power, there are no straightforward strategies for reducing dependence on fossil fuels without large economic costs.” http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/wind-and-solar-generation-half-the-cost-of-nuclear-95493

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Sydney shows the way – communities can switch to clean renewable energy

text-community-energy

The City of Sydney has recognised the potential of community energy in its roadmap to move the city towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the IPCC’s most recent report has again underlined the extreme urgency of action on . “Addressing climate change will require action at all levels. Empowering communities to develop their own local, renewable energy projects will help deliver more clean energy,” Cr Moore said.

Communities can drive urgent switch to clean energy http://phys.org/news/2014-04-urgent-energy.html  Apr 22, 2014 Australia will continue to lag behind countries like the United States and Germany in heeding the UN’s latest call to urgently switch to clean sources of energy unless the burgeoning community energy sector is allowed to thrive, according to a UTS researcher. Community-owned renewable energy generation in towns and cities around the country can stimulate regional development, provide more resilient and inexpensive energy security and significantly contribute to Australia’s climate mitigation targets, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures researcher Nicola Ison said.

“A growing number of communities, including local councils, are recognising this, however there are significant regulatory and institutional barriers that need to be overcome,” Ms Ison said.

“Across the world renewable energy is changing the way citizens and organisations think about and use energy. In the United States, more than 1,500 wind farms are owned by communities across 27 states and in Germany, customers own two thirds of all renewable energy generated.

“Councils, as large energy users in local communities and facilitators of local action in their own right, can play an increasingly important role in this transition.”

The City of Sydney has recognised the potential of community energy in its roadmap to move the city towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the IPCC’s most recent report has again underlined the extreme urgency of action on . Community-owned renewable energy generation in towns and cities around the country can stimulate regional development, provide more resilient and inexpensive energy security and significantly contribute to Australia’s climate mitigation targets, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures researcher Nicola Ison said.

“A growing number of communities, including local councils, are recognising this, however there are significant regulatory and institutional barriers that need to be overcome,” Ms Ison said.

“Across the world renewable energy is changing the way citizens and organisations think about and use energy. In the United States, more than 1,500 wind farms are owned by communities across 27 states and in Germany, customers own two thirds of all renewable energy generated.

“Councils, as large energy users in local communities and facilitators of local action in their own right, can play an increasingly important role in this transition.” Continue reading

April 24, 2014 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Labor and Liberal keen on uranium mining, and on promoting geothermal energy

TweedleDum-&-DeeDennis Matthews, 24 April 14 The hot rocks geothermal energy industry has been generously supported by both Labor and Liberal governments. The first grant was $1million from the Federal government to the University of NSW in September 1999. Since then grants totaling about $300million have been made in support of the industry.

Focusing on one particular grant (The Advertiser24/4/14) obscures the real problem of why so much effort has gone into supporting this industry.

Funding has often been accompanied by considerable media hype. Claims of cheap, low greenhouse gas emission, renewable, electricity have not been realised and issues of water use and radioactivity have not been adequately addressed.

Although wishful thinking seems to have been a major factor, bi-partisan political support for the mining industry, particularly uranium mining, seems to have played a major role.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Uranium prices set to just keep on going down, down

burial.uranium-industryJapanese nuclear forecasts and other key indicators point to lower uranium prices (T.CCO) Stockhouse Editorial, 23 April 14, 
The following is an excerpt from Canaccord Genuity’s Morning Coffee newsletter.

According to UxC, the uranium spot price dropped US$0.50 this week to US$32.50 a pound, the lowest price in more than eight years (lowest level since November 2005). Canaccord Genuity Base Metals analyst Gary Lampard believes that uranium prices are already close to marginal production costs, and sees minimal potential for substantially lower prices than current.

Further production cutbacks are likely as high-priced contracts from pre-2011 are finally filled and need to be replaced. However, we note Ux Consulting commentary that “key market indicators are already pointing toward lower spot prices, with the question being not if this will happen, but when it will happen.”
The extent and speed of Japanese reactor re-starts is a key forecasting parameter, and we note commentary from Ux Consulting that “it now appears that only a few Japanese reactors may actually restart in 2014, compared to the previous estimate of up to 10 reactors,” and that even after re-starts of Japanese nuclear reactors, “it may be years before they return to the market given their large inventory positions.”

We also note a Reuters analysis, “based on questionnaires and interviews with more than a dozen experts  and input from 10 nuclear operators” published on April 1, 2014, concluded, “fewer than a third, and at most about two-thirds, of the (idled) reactors will pass today’s more stringent safety checks and clear the other seismological, economic, logistical and political hurdles needed to restart,” and that of the 48 non-Fukushima Daiichi reactors, “14 will probably restart at some point, a further 17 are uncertain and 17 will probably never be switched back on.”
…. http://www.stockhouse.com/news/newswire/2014/04/23/japanese-nuclear-forecasts-and-other-key-indicators-point-to-lower-uranium#MtwE9VTmwDgfQ0h0.99

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia deliberately prevented a nuclear-free Pacific treaty, to obey USA’s interests

Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, including the 1985 Cabinet minute about the SPNFZ Treaty, show clearly that Australia designed the treaty to protect US interests in the Pacific, including the deployment of nuclear-armed warships and the testing of nuclear missiles.

Aust-two-faced-on-peaceInternational legal experts, including Don Rothwell, professor of international law at the Australian National University, have raised concerns that uranium sales to India would breach Australia’s obligations under the treaty. Rothwell has prepared a legal opinion stating that the SPNFZ Treaty prohibits members from selling uranium to countries that do not accept full-scope nuclear safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is consistent with past Australian government policy. 

Delaying The Nuclear-Free Zone In The Pacific http://concernedyapcitizens.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/pacific-islands-report-delaying-the-nuclear-free-zone-in-the-pacific/ By Nic Maclellan At the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, a treaty to create a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, or SPNFZ, was opened for signature on Hiroshima Day, 6 August 1985, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Rarotonga.

Twenty-eight years after it was signed on that day by Australia, New Zealand and island nations, the United States still hasn’t ratified its protocols, in spite of a request from president Barack Obama to the US Senate more than two years ago.

Next week, as Forum leaders gather in the Marshall Islands – site of sixty-seven US nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls – the US government will be eager to keep nuclear issues off the agenda, as it has been since the Treaty was first mooted. Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, and US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, highlight longstanding opposition in Canberra and Washington to a comprehensive nuclear-free zone that might hamper US nuclear deployments in the Pacific.

The Forum meeting, and the US Senate’s continued stalling, coincide with on-going concerns that Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India threatens to breach Australian treaty obligations. As Conservative Australian governments in the 1960s debated the acquisition of nuclear weapons and purchased aircraft capable of delivering nuclear strikes in Southeast Asia, the labour movement across the region proposed a nuclear free zone designed to ban the bomb in this part of the world. The SPNFZ Treaty was finally negotiated in the 1980s after decades of campaigning by unions, Pacific churches and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement. Continue reading

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS AND THE WAR OF INVASION ,

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT SOUGHT: KEVIN GILBERT, ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS AND THE WAR OF INVASION ,   Philippa Scarlett 24 April 2014    by  In early September 1991 Kevin Gilbert was photographed by Richard Briggs against the background of the Australian War Memorial. He carries a cross in almost Christ like manner as he walks towards Anzac Parade. However it is unlikely that this symbolism was Christian. Gilbert’s creation spirit was Baiame. Rather the cross was generally symbolic of the sacrifice of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia during more than 200 years of undeclared war against invasion and of the ongoing suffering of his people. Gilbert himself said at the time

I represent Aboriginal people who have fought with honour and given their lives for justice and for the land – as none have done for so long as my people. This is a memorial to those who have fought and died and continue to die in the continuing massacre against us. Interview with Amanda UhlmannCanberra Times 3 September 1991. 

In seeking recognition of Australia’s first and unfinished war, and commemoration of the sacrifice of its participants he brought his plea and protest to the hub of remembrance of the war service of Australians and linked it with the phrase used to encapsulate the act of remembering war: LEST WE FORGET. The wayside memorial he constructed in a then vacant space on Anzac parade – already lined with officially sanctioned memorials – bears the sign THIS SITE IS A MEMORIAL TO ALL ABORIGINAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED IN DEFENSE OF OUR LAND LEST WE FORGET…… http://indigenoushistories.com/2014/04/23/acknowledgement-sought-kevin-gilbert-aboriginal-australians-and-the-war-of-invasion/

April 24, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australia’s commission of audit not allowed to cost Abbott’s “Direct Action” climate policy

Abbott-shhhhAudit not privy to multibillion-dollar direct action plan to reduce emissions  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/audit-not-privy-to-multibilliondollar-direct-action-plan-to-reduce-emissions-20140424-zqya6.html#ixzz2zro4nYhK April 24, 2014  Lisa Cox  National political reporter The Abbott government’s multibillion-dollar “direct action” carbon reduction plan was not considered by the commission of audit, and key details of the scheme remain unknown.

 The head of the audit of government spending, Tony Shepherd, told Fairfax Media that the commission had not considered the controversial $3.2 billion policy because it was not provided with any details.

The comments come ahead of the imminent release of the government’s “direct action” white paper – expected as early as Thursday – elements of which have been closely guarded by the office of Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The paper is expected to clarify key pieces of information, including how “direct action” will work and the mechanisms behind the key component of the policy, the $1.55 billion emissions reduction fund.

Mr Shepherd said on Wednesday the commission had been unable to assess “direct action” because there was no information available on the policy during the three months it was conducting its review.

“The Commission of Audit couldn’t really look at it because we didn’t have a policy to look at,” he said.

“If they had a policy and it was out there we would have had a look at it, but in the absence of any detail we couldn’t.”

Mr Shepherd said that as a result, the commission’s report contained no information on “direct action”, although he did not necessarily view that as a problem, despite the scheme carrying a price tag of up to $3.2 billion.

“There’s a number of other government policies and things that are evolving at the moment,” he said.

“You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”

The government is facing a tough battle to win over MPs with its plan to replace Labor’s carbon tax.

Labor and the Greens do not support “direct action” and Fairfax MP Clive Palmer declared this week that his Palmer United Party also would not back the “hopeless” policy.

Mr Palmer has threatened to reconsider his position on the carbon and mining taxes if the government does not bring direct action legislation to the Senate for debate.

 

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

New build wind and solar energy now half the cost of nuclear

New-build wind and solar energy systems can generate electricity for up to 50 per cent cheaper than new nuclear power plants, a German study has found.

The research, commissioned by German think tank Agora Energiewende, compares feed-in tariffs for new nuclear in the UK with FiTs for renewables in Germany, and finds that nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CSS) – a technology not yet available in Europe – are both more expensive than wind and solar as energy strategies for preventing climate change.

Released this week, the study also investigates the costs of “complete power systems” using natural gas power as flexible peak load back-up – something nuclear power plants need to achieve a generation capacity that makes them economically viable, and solar and wind farms need to make up for weather-affected intermittency.

The study concludes that, “even today and under conservative assumptions,” a reliable power system based on solar PV, onshore wind and gas would be around 20 per cent cheaper than a system based on nuclear power and gas – a cost gap that was likely to widen as renewables became even more competitive.

Interestingly, the study does not even bother comparing a power generation system with high shares of coal or gas CCS – the energy mix Australia’s federal environment minister has put his weight behind – due to cost comparisons “clearly showing” it is “even less competitive (than nuclear) in comparison to PV and onshore wind.” (See chart below on orginal article.)……….

The new findings come at a time when nuclear, coal and gas come under increasing economic pressure in Germany and other parts of the world. As we reported last month, German energy giant Eon reportedly wants to bring forward the shutdown of its Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant to spring 2015.

Nuclear and fossil fuel plants are being squeezed out of Germany by renewables, wrote Craig Morris on RenewEconomy, with RWE recently announcing plans to close one of its gas turbines near Emsland because of all the solar power being generated in the region.

“Clearly, wind and solar power are dramatically cutting into demand for conventional power, making such plants increasingly unprofitable,” Morris said. …….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/wind-and-solar-generation-half-the-cost-of-nuclear-95493

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UV radiation: melanoma now more common among children, though still rare

UV-radiationPediatric melanoma a growing occurrence Pediatric melanoma, rare but becoming more common, is a serious but treatable disease Chron, By Todd Ackerman | April 23, 2014  M.D. Anderson sees more child patients than anywhere else in the nation, partly because it gets so many referrals from nonspecialists who don’t know what to make of adolescents getting a disease that scientists say usually takes a decade or more to develop, most of the time because of too much exposure to the sun. Even now, only a few doctors specialize in the disease in children, said Dr. Dennis Hughes, an M.D. Anderson pediatric oncologist who treats most of the center’s youngest patients.

Melanoma develops when skin cells called melancytes become abnormal and multiply in an uncontrolled way. The cells, which normally give skin its color and protect the deeper levels from sun damage, form a mass of tissue, or a tumor, when they’re multiplying uncontrollably that can spread and damage healthy tissue.

The reasons for the jump in pediatric cases are unclear. Some suspect – though there’s no supporting data – it may involve the depletion of the ozone layer, which absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Hughes notes that more skin gets exposed now but also thinks it’s because of improved awareness. More doctors now know that melanoma is not just an adult disease.

It is not, however, an easy diagnosis. Frequently mistaken for warts or mosquito bites, pediatric melanoma can look quite different from the adult disease, often light-colored and well-defined instead of irregularly pigmented. A 2011 study found that 60 percent of melanoma-afflicted young children didn’t meet the common melanoma-detection criteria (the ABCD warning signs of asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation and diameter over 6 millimeters).

In children younger than 10, it also usually doesn’t show up in sun-exposed areas.

For such reasons, pediatric melanoma is often diagnosed late, not a good thing in a cancer a recent study found spreads more quickly in children than in adults. Hughes estimates that a third to a half of such child patients arrive at M.D. Anderson with a delayed diagnosis, something Hughes has no difficulty understanding.

“Warts are common,” he said. “Pediatric melanoma isn’t.”

Hughes doesn’t want parents to overreact, given pediatric melanoma’s rarity. . But he also wants them to know it’s possible that what they think is a wart that isn’t getting better could be melanoma…….http://www.chron.com/news/health/article/Pediatric-melanoma-a-growing-occurrence-5424359.php

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian government’s unseemly haste in selling uranium to volatile Middle East region

exclamation-Robb Fast-Tracks UAE Uranium Deahttps://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.

April 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Rare birth defects in Washington State, near Hanford nuclear facility

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.

anencephaly

“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.

April 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maurice Newman, Abbott’s top adviser, informs us that climate change is not real!

cartoon-climate-AustNo evidence that man has caused warming Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline  Broadcast: 22/04/2014 Reporter: Emma Alberici

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.

Transcript

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…………the 97 per cent doesn’t mean anything in any event because science is not a consensus issue. Science is whatever the science is and the fact remains there is no empirical evidence to show that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth. We haven’t had any measurable increase in temperature on earth for the last 17.5 years……
EMMA ALBERICI: ……..Now 195 countries contribute to that. Nineteen academies of science across the world, including I have to say the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, NASA, the American Academy of Sciences, the British equivalent, the Canadian equivalent, some really reputable bodies around the world are now agreeing that it’s human activity that’s causing climate change. So I’m wondering, who is it that’s influencing you so that is so convincing you otherwise?

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.

Newman-Moaurice-climate

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………

MAURICE NEWMAN: Yes he is a climate scientist.


EMMA ALBERICI: He is. He was at NASA. His colleagues at NASA disagree with him…………

 http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3990190.htm

April 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Ukraine crisis shows up the danger of nuclear reactors as military targets

flag-UkraineWhy 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

April 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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