Australian news, and some related international items

Secrecy on nuclear waste plans, as Fed govt delays announcing site for radioactive trash dump

radioactive trashsecret-agent-AustFederal Government delays announcement of Australian waste dump site after silence from NT October 5, 2015  NT News
THE Federal Government has missed its due date to announce a shortlist of potential sites for Australia’s nuclear waste dump.
And despite promising last week the process would be “open and transparent”, new Northern Australia and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg will not reveal how many nominations have been put forward, where they have come from, or when any government announcements will come.
The month-long call to nominate sites for Australia’s radioactive waste management facility was thrown open to all landholders in March because Northern Territory traditional owners, who had exclusive nomination rights, had not offered land before the Government-imposed deadline.
A controversial bid by traditional owners north of Tennant Creek to house the facility on the Muckaty Land Trust collapsed in June last year amid clan feuds and environmental activism.
The deal would have netted traditional owners about $12 million in compensation.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane left Cabinet after the Malcolm Turnbull leadership coup and Mr Frydenberg assumed responsibility for the facility in the subsequent reshuffle.
In his first interview about the troubled quest to store 70 years’ worth of Australia’s low and intermediate level nuclear waste, Mr Frydenberg told the The Adelaide Advertiser last week “the (Federal) Government is running an open and transparent process to choose a voluntary site for a national radioactive waste facility.”
Mr Macfarlane had also promised “extensive public consultation” at every stage.
But nearly five months after nominations have closed, the government will not reveal any details about the search.Ironically, Mr Frydenberg’s office has twice referred the NT News to the “open and transparent” remark while at the same time refusing to answer questions.
Australia, specifically Lucas Heights in Sydney, has already begun to take back nuclear waste from Europe, meaning the government can ill afford more Muckaty Station-style stops, starts and failures.
According to government timelines, the minister in charge, then Mr MacFarlane, was due to shortlist sites before August.
By July next year, Mr Frydenberg is supposed to announce the government’s preferred site, and by 2020 the facility is supposed to be operational. Moves to offer another site on Muckaty Station north of the original plan fell away early this year. Traditional owners from the Tanami Desert, under the auspices of the Central Land Council, had also indicated support but never nominated a site.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, politics, wastes | 1 Comment

Uranium mine fire in Kakadu National Park

bushfireNT uranium mine fire: Traditional owners call on mine operator to take responsibility for blaze owners are calling on the operator of the Ranger Uranium Mine to take responsibility for a fire that is threatening important cultural sites in Kakadu National Park.

They are also warning if the out-of-control fire spreads into Kakadu’s escarpment country, it will be too difficult to contain. Parks Australia said the blaze started when the mine’s operator, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), began weed management burning which then spread into Kakadu.

Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA should fund efforts to put out the fire. “I mean there’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said. “They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”

Mr O’Brien said the fire was close to escarpment country, where it would be very difficult to put out. “If this fire gets into the escarpment, there’s no water in there,” he said “You can’t do suppression from the air, you cannot get boots on the ground in that country, it’s too rugged. “All you can do is wait for it to put itself out, that’s not acceptable.”

ERA said it notified Parks Australia about the controlled burn and was not instructed to stop the fire from going ahead. Kakadu rangers are due to fly over Kakadu this morning to assess the fire.

Mr O’Brien said hundreds of rock art galleries, plants and animals in Radon Springs are threatened by the fire. One of Kakadu National Park’s most significant cultural sites, Nourlangie Rock, featuring Indigenous rock art showing early contact with Europeans, as well as other art up to 50,000 years old, has been closed to tourists.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Critical scrutiny on Australia’s stance on nuclear weapons

If deterrence has failed and Australia is hit by the bomb, it would not profit Australia for the Earth to be destroyed with US retaliatory strikes on the attacker that trigger an all-out nuclear war. This would not be a rational strategy of defence but an irrational act of revenge initiating an all-consuming nuclear Armageddon.

The realistic agenda Australia favours, through practical steps in collaboration with those with the bomb, has fallen far behind the urgency and gravity of the very real threats posed by these most indiscriminately inhumane weapons ever invented. The humanitarian pledge is a critical step to their elimination, not an exercise in futility. The growing global support for it reflects, not naïveté by its proponents, but frustration with the glacial efforts of the nuclear-armed states in containing, minimising, reducing and eliminating nuclear risks that pose intolerable threats to all of us

Confidential cables, Australia, and nuclear weapons, Asia and Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum, October 2015  What the Australian cables reveal Ramesh Thakur Australia may be saying the same thing in public as it is behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean its stance on nuclear weapons can withstand critical scrutiny, Ramesh Thakur writes.

logo-ICANUsing the Freedom of Information law, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has obtained a tranche of confidential cables between Canberra and various Australian diplomatic missions around the world, regarding the recent nuclear weapons’ humanitarian consequences movement. The cables contain no surprise and confirm what is broadly known about Australia’s approach. They underline some positive features of Australian foreign policy but also confirm the limitations inherent to bureaucracies in trying to find imaginative solutions to intractable problems.

The cables show Australia is a responsible state actor that takes international commitments seriously………

That said, neither of the two main grounds for Australia’s opposition withstand critical scrutiny. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership: lack of clarity about Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

“The rights given to investors are so open-ended and ambiguous that they allow for a lot of creative lawyering.”

Germany is in the midst of a $4.7-billion lawsuit occasioned by its decision to phase out nuclear power.

There’s nothing wrong with domestic courts reviewing government regulations, but outsourcing the responsibility to international tribunals is troubling

logo-anti-TPPThe Trans-Pacific Partnership: Good? or bad?, leisure guy 6 Oct 15  “……James Surowiecki in a brief New Yorker column describes some drawbacks:……….The case has yet to be decided, but the concerns it raises help explain President Obama’s embarrassing setback last week, when the House failed to give him fast-track authority over one of two big trade agreements that had been envisaged as a key part of his legacy. Both agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with eleven Asian and Pacific countries, and an agreement with Europe called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—include provisions very like the ones at the heart of Australia’s fight with Big Tobacco. Known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (or I.S.D.S.) provisions, they typically allow foreign investors to sue governments when they feel they have not received “fair or equitable treatment,” and to have their cases heard not by a domestic court but by an international arbitration tribunal made up of three lawyers. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate draft for Paris leaves Australia further behind in its lack of climate plan

Map Turnbull climate“The Turnbull government’s Paris targets are so bad that they not only isolate logo Paris climate1Australia from the trade and job opportunities of the clean energy future but they could have a wrecking effect on global ambition at these pivotal talks,”

The climate summit is scheduled to run from November 30 to December 11, although France’s climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana​ last week told reporters a special pre-summit may be arranged for 8 to 10 November so leaders can agree on the key details of the deal ahead of the main gathering.

Paris 2015: Draft flags five-year climate reviews, leaves Australia ‘flat-footed’, SMH, October 6, 2015  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Countries should agree to review their carbon emission reduction policies every five years to ensure dangerous global warming can be avoided, according to a draft United Nations agreement being circulated before the Paris summit due to start late next month.

The provision for regular revisions in the draft accord – which has been slashed from 80 to 20 pages – is a sign UN organisers are increasingly resigned to the fact any pledges in Paris will not be enough to keep temperature rises to less than 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels.

Even so, the first “comprehensive draft” by the event’s co-chairmen for some 200 nations demonstrates “the inevitable trend to stronger action” that will be strengthened over time, said Erwin Jackson, the deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute……. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Nuclear facilities highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks

antnuke-relevantNuclear power plants ‘highly vulnerable’ to cyber-attacks,  6 Oct, 2015  British nuclear power plants are at risk of cyber-attack, thanks to a “culture of denial” regarding the risks, a report by security think tank Chatham House claims.

The “Cyber Security at Civil Nuclear Facilities: Understanding the Risks” report involved a study of cyber-security at plants across Europe and interviews with 30 senior officials in the nuclear industry and the governments of Japan, France, the UK and the US.

cyber-attackflag-UKCyber security is still new to many in the nuclear industry,” Caroline Baylon, the report’s author, told the Financial Times. “They are really good at safety and, after 9/11, they’ve got really good at physical security. But they have barely grappled with cyber,” she said, adding the industry suffers from a “culture of denial.

The security issues stem from the increasing digitization of nuclear facilities by using relatively easily available technology to trim expenditure.

The cyber security risk is growing as nuclear facilities become increasingly reliant on digital systems and make increasing use of commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ software, which offers considerable cost savings but increases vulnerability to hacking attacks,” the report argues.

Meanwhile, hacking is becoming ever easier to conduct, and more widespread: automatic cyber-attack packages targeted at known and discovered vulnerabilities are widely available for purchase.

The report says there is a real risk of a devastating incident like the one which occurred at the Fukushima plant in Japan in 2011, when an earthquake and resulting tsunami hit and badly damaged the facility………

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s climate policy does not measure up to the UN draft Paris climate pact

“The inevitable trend to stronger action is embedded in the draft agreement with countries needing to progressively strengthen action through time.

“Core details still need to be resolved, but this again just highlights that Australia’s lack of stable, scalable and credible domestic policy to moderise our economy is leaving us flat footed in a world turning to clean energy,”

Map Turnbull climate

UN draft Paris climate pact released – Australian policy under pressure 
By  on 6 October 2015  A new draft of the global climate change pact due to be signed in Paris this December has been released by the UN, calling on all nations to commit to mitigation policies that reflect their highest possible ambition, and to toughen these commitments every five years.

The 20-page draft, released by the co-chairs of the UN climate negations in Bonn on Monday, increases the pressure on countries like Australia, whose low-ball emissions reduction target has been roundly criticised for lacking ambition and not having a sufficient policy framework. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Movie ‘The Martian” totally incorrect on effects of ionising radiation

text ionisingMovie fact check: Could Martian explorer survive radiation?, Genetic Literacy Project, 
 | October 5, 2015 |  In the newly released The Martian, a stranded astronaut must figure out how to survive on the Red Planet after being accidentally left behind when the rest of his crew escapes a violent dust storm. Explorer Mark Watney spends many months trying to make water, grow food and send an SOS signal back to Earth. Most of the tools he uses in the film are based on existing or in-development technology.

The one major exception is the radiation-blocking material that allows Watney to spend much of his days outside his habitat, on the surface of a planet that lacks Earth’s atmosphere and is thus bathed in significantly higher levels of damaging radiation.“In the book they have this really thin, light, flexible material that blocks all radiation,” says Andy Weir, author of the book The Martian on which the film was based. “There’s nothing even remotely like that in the real world. That was the magic I gave him so the story would progress. Otherwise Mark would have different kinds of cancer.”…….

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Trans Pacific Partnership is not what it seems

Imagine what would have happened if these provisions  [investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems] had been in place when the lethal effects of asbestos were discovered. Rather than shutting down manufacturers and forcing them to compensate those who had been harmed, under ISDS, governments would have had to pay the manufacturers not to kill their citizens. Taxpayers would have been hit twice – first to pay for the health damage caused by asbestos, and then to compensate manufacturers for their lost profits when the government stepped in to regulate a dangerous product.

logo-anti-TPPThe Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade, Project Syndicate 2 Oct 15  ADAM S. HERSH, NEW YORK – As negotiators and ministers from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries meet in Atlanta in an effort to finalize the details of the sweeping new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), some sober analysis is warranted. The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems.

You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about “free” trade…….

just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the TPP would advance an agenda that actually runs counter to free trade. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The irrationality of ‘nuclear deterrence’

a doctrine of mutual assured destruction…… the case of nuclear arms, retaliation – whereby, in response to half the world being destroyed, you decide to destroy the other half – would not only be morally inexcusable, but irrational. Welcome to the nuclear hall of mirrors…..

 there’s one thing that deterrence doesn’t protect against – the possibility of nuclear accident.

If a world without nuclear weapons is achievable, it will require political leadership. A country giving up its own would be a rare and shining thing: an altruistic act in world affairs. The cost would be minimal, the savings great, and it would make us far more convincing when trying to dissuade others from acquiring nuclear capability. Britain should do it.

apocalypseIt’s time to leave the nuclear hall of mirrors, flag-UKGuardian, David Shariatmadari, 6 Oct 15 
Deterrence isn’t enough to keep us safe: the prospect of a nuclear accident alone justifies ridding the world of these weapons. Britain should lead the way 
“Nuclear weapons can wipe out life on Earth, if used properly.” Despite being found in the liner notes of a Talking Heads album, this is the sentence I think best captures the bizarre contradictions of the atomic age. Human beings have manufactured bombs explicitly designed to unleash destructive forces equivalent to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of TNT. Deploy them and millions die; civilisation as we know it could disappear. And yet, they’re not actually supposed to be used. In fact, their proper function is to remain in the ground, or at sea, or in the air. Launch, fire or drop ‘em and the whole system has failed. Is there any other device so intricately constructed in order to decrease the likelihood of its own use?

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn, a man with at least a chance of being entrusted with the launch codes for 225 British warheads, stated that he would never press the nuclear button. I asked philosopher Jonathan Glover, whose book Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century, includes a study of the Cuban missile crisis, about the comments. He confirmed most analyses so far. “On the assumption that if he’s PM he has full say, that would indeed get rid of any deterrence”. In other words, were Corbyn to gain power, those weapons would become immediately impotent. His shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle, called the remarks “unhelpful”.

Corbyn had let the air out of the nuclear balloon, given the game away. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear weapons plan, and the connection with NSW nuclear reactor

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program. The reactor project pushed ahead and preliminary site work commenced.

Atomic-Bomb-SmRevealed: Australia’s Failed Bid for Nuclear WeaponsChris Walsh, The National Interest 16 Sept 15, At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons. It was in the tense Cold War environment of the late 1950s and early 1960s that these aspirations moved beyond talk and into concrete action.

By the time the Hurricane detonation took place, Australia was already experienced in weapons of mass destruction. From 1943 and in the shadow of a possible Japanese invasion, Australia built extensive stocks of chemical weapons and delivery systems…….

Australia — with its vast coastlines and deserts — emerged as a key player in Britain’s nuclear strategy.

When Britain approached Australia to host nuclear tests, a sympathetic government led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies readily agreed. While Menzies — an Anglophile — focused on his relationship with the United Kingdom, others saw this as an opportunity for Australia to buy membership into the nuclear club. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New South Wales town Uralla shows the way to q100% renewable energy

Parkinson-Report-NSW town provides blueprint for 100% renewable energy communities, One Step Off The Grid By  on October 6, 2015 (interesting diagrams), 

The NSW town of Uralla has outlined plans to go 100 per cent renewable energy, in a government-sponsored blueprint that could become the model of many other towns in NSW and other states to follow suite.

The Zero Net Energy Town – the Uralla Case study – was released today and describes a two-stage process that the town could adopt to go 100 per cent renewable, or “zero net energy”. It is a blueprint that others can follow, and two dozen towns in the state have already expressed interest.

The good news is that Uralla – population 6,034 and in the heart of Barnaby Joyce’s New England electorate – can get most of the way to their council’s objective of becoming “zero net energy” just by using measures that are proven and that will save them money.

These include things such as LED lighting and home insulation, and producing energy on site, particularly with solar PV. These measures will save the town around $2.2 million a year in energy costs, the study finds. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Labor Party to launch a managed, predictable energy transition process

Shorten, BillLabor’s plan to modernise energy sector, Yahoo News 6 Oct 15  Federal Labor will develop a plan to modernise Australia’s electricity sector that will include training for employees out of work due to a boost in renewable energy.

The opposition’s electricity modernisation plan will focus on slashing carbon pollution while trying to minimise costs for business and consumers. It would also aim to help local communities adapt to changes in key industries.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will announce the plan in a speech to the All-Energy Council, while reconfirming Labor’s focus on renewables as a source of economic growth.

“Because renewable energy is at the heart of our view of the jobs, industries and environment of the next century,” he will tell the council in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Labor recently announced it wanted 50 per cent of Australia’s energy to come from renewables by 2030 and has committed to introducing an emissions trading scheme to curb carbon pollution.

Mr Shorten said the goal was a managed, predictable transition process……… Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Study finds that storage for solar energy can replace gas in our electricity networks

Storage can replace gas in our electricity networks and boost renewables By  on 6 October 2015 (Good graphs on original) 

The Conversation Energy storage could replace peak gas in our electricity network. That’s the finding of a study that my colleagues and I recently published in the Journal of Applied Energy.

Energy storage is often considered the holy grail of the electricity sector. Tesla’s Powerwall home battery system, for instance, allows households to store energy from solar panels, to be used when the sun isn’t shining. It is seen as a vital piece of the puzzle in a future with more renewable energy.

Storage is great for households, but could also be as important in the wider electricity network. Here’s how it could work. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

New low-cost, high efficiency solar panel launched in Australia

solar-panelSunEdison Launches World First P-Series Solar Panel in Australia October 6, 2015 Energy Matters  Global solar leader SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE:SUNE) has today launched its low-cost, high efficiency SE-P265NPB solar panel; available exclusively in Australia.

This 265W panel is set to play a significant role in the nation’s solar power revolution and is the first SunEdison panel available in the Australian market.

“This module boasts all the hallmarks of quality Australian installers have come to expect; including a very low temperature coefficient, 35mm silver frame and MC4 connectors,” said SunEdison Australia Managing Director, Jeremy Rich.

SunEdison’s first foray into the Australian market with the SE-P265NPB polycrystalline solar panel offers an outstanding model efficiency of 16.2% and a better return on investment for Australian consumers based on the higher volume of watts per module. Multi-MPPT transformerless inverter compatible, the SE-P265NPB features a positive power tolerance and is Potential Induced Degradation (PID) free.

As a vertically integrated Tier-1 manufacturer, SunEdison has an impressive track record in the development and operation of solar power stations, with 50 years experience in the production of silicon and solar technology…….


  • The SunEdison SE-P265NPB solar panel is a 60-cell module with four bus bars per cell, helping maximise its energy harvesting capabilities.
  • This panel is considered a “greener” module in terms of embodied energy as cells are fired in furnaces at triple the density of other systems.
  • The bus bar printing technology enables printing of both cell fingers and bus bars in two separate steps, meaning great precision and allowing the print pattern for fingers and bus bars to be independently optimised.
  • Sealed process bars are used to avoid contamination of the cells.
  • Cells that do not pass rigorous testing processes are on-sold to other manufacturers for use in lower-spec panels.
  • The SE-P265NPB comes with a 10 year limited warranty on materials and workmanship, and a 25 year linear power warranty.


October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment


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