Australia–India nuclear treaty: a non-proliferation disaster, The Strategist, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog 14Oct 2014 By Crispin Rovere “…….Nuclear suppliers do have a responsibility, however, for ensuring their nuclear material isn’t used to build nuclear weapons, and must maintain strict mechanisms for that purpose. If countries can access nuclear supply without the attendant responsibilities, then support for longstanding non-proliferation regimes will be undermined, countries will see less value in treaties such as the NPT, and a key pillar of the nuclear arms control regime as a whole will be weakened.
The text of the proposed Australian export deal fails that basic test. In addition to a range of other flaws, for the first time in 40 years Australia won’t be able to guarantee how the nuclear material it supplies is being used. Specifically, the agreement allows India to reprocess uranium supplied by Australia to create plutonium, potentially at weapons grade, with no direct accounting by India to Australia for that material, and unusually, no provision for the return of the material in the event of it being misused. As former Director-General of ASNO, John Carlson, explains, Australia currently allows reprocessing only by two export partners, the EU and Japan, each with direct reporting requirements and specific permission being given by Australia as to how the reprocessed material is to be used.
Accordingly, the deal with India isn’t comparable to Australia’s other nuclear export agreements. Australia is privileging India by excluding key provisions normally included to ensure a recipient of nuclear material is accountable to the supplier. Australia’s other nuclear export partners might demand similar concessions, undermining the integrity of the non-proliferation regime as a whole.
Moreover, the concessions made by Australia are unnecessary. ………Not only does this agreement undermine long established non-proliferation regimes and Australia’s credibility as a nuclear supplier, it represents a missed opportunity to strengthen it. Given that what matters most to India is being treated on a par with China and the United States, India should be expected to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) after the US Senate does, just as China has already agreed to do……..
The agreement marks a significant departure from Australia’s longstanding practice. By excluding the normal provisions that ensure a nuclear recipient is directly accountable to the supplier, Australia is abrogating the principle that nuclear suppliers are accountable for how their exported nuclear material is used……..Crispin Rovere is a former PhD student at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU and co-author of Non-strategic nuclear weapons: the next step in multilateral arms control. Image courtesy of Flickr user Indiawaterportal.org. http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-india-nuclear-treaty-a-non-proliferation-disaster/
“We already have solar panels powering our aged-care facilities and heating our swimming pool; our community is telling us they want more renewable initiatives and this could fit the bill,” Cr Pearce said yesterday.
Non-for-profit company Starfish Enterprises has secured a $105,000 state government grant to develop a blueprint for a zero net energy town, ideally located in the Northern Tablelands.
While more than 100 businesses have tendered to draw up the blueprint, the next step in the process is to find a suitable town willing to become the first to switch to 100 per cent green power.
Uralla, Walcha, Glen Innes, Inverell, Bingara and Manilla have all expressed an interest in becoming the model town. Cr Pearce said Uralla stood a good chance of becoming the selected town because there was substantial community support for the idea.
The move would follow several towns in the United States and Germany, all of which have shifted to zero net energy. This means the towns are powered by LED lighting, bio-gas plants, daytime solar panels and energy efficient pumping systems.
Starfish executive director Adam Blakester said expressions of interests from towns closed next Friday.
“An average town of 5000 people would spend up to $20 million a year on energy,” he said. “If we can produce that energy locally and competitively, we create a new industry.”
South Australia Achieves 100% Renewable Energy For A Whole Working Day Clean Technica October 13th, 2014 by Giles Parkinson (good graphs)_ RenewEconomy. There have been several instances in recent months when wind energy has accounted for all, or nearly all, electricity demand in South Australia. Last Tuesday, however, set a new benchmark – the combination of wind energy and rooftop solar provided more than 100 per cent of the state’s electricity needs, for a whole working day between 9.30am and 6pm.
The data comes from Hugh Saddler, at consultants Pitt & Sherry, and is part of his monthly overview of electricity market, emissions and pricing trends in Australia.
Saddler notes there were several periods in South Australia from Saturday September 27, and over the following days, when wind generation was greater than total state NEM demand. (South Australia has nearly half the country’s wind capacity with around 1.5GW of wind energy).
It occurred briefly on Saturday afternoon, for much of Sunday, and again, most strikingly, between about 9.30am and 6.00pm on Tuesday, September 30, a normal working day.
In reality, renewables contributed well over 100 per cent because they were generating and consuming their own electricity from rooftop solar – the state has 550MW of rooftop solar, with nearly one in four houses with rooftop modules.
That meant that “true” demand by consumers on that day, i.e. the amount of electricity being used by consumers, including rooftop solar, was in fact considerably higher than NEM demand — up to 20 per cent according to the Australian Photovoltaic Institute — because of the contribution of rooftop PV to total electricity supply…….
Interestingly, the South Australia government has already exceeded its target of generating 33 per cent of the state’s electricity needs from renewables (over a full year), and has now set a 50 per cent target by 2025. In reality, it will likely reach that mark well before that, particularly if the Ceres wind farm and the Hornsdale wind farm are built. It could even be the first mainland state towards 100 per cent renewables over the whole year.
Considerable volumes of electricity were exported to Victoria. “In simple arithmetic terms, though not of course in how the grid actually operated, the state’s electricity supply was 100 per cent renewable while coal and gas-fired electricity was exported,” he says…..http://cleantechnica.com/2014/10/13/s-australia-achieves-100-renewable-energy-whole-working-day/
US-Russia Nuclear War Could Wipe Out Humanity – Nuclear Physician Warns http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/569300/20141013/nuclear-war-russia-over-ukraine-vladimir-putin.htm#.VD7HmWddUnk By Athena Yenko | October 13, 2014
A nuclear war that will deplete the ozone layer, emit radioactive pollution, form massive fire storms, and a nuclear winter could ignite between the United States and Russia over theUkraine crisis. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician, an advocate of citizen action to address nuclear and environmental crises, the founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a 1985 Nobel Prize nominee warns that the Cold War has returned and could escalate into a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. “It’s an incredibly dangerous situation. … If there’s a nuclear war tonight, that’s the Northern Hemisphere (of the entire world) gone,” she said at the National Press Club Newsmaker press conference.
She highlighted that the advances made by NATO to Russia’s border is perilous. She implied that NATO’s strategy was a provocation. She said that the only war that the two countries could engage is a nuclear one. The United States and Russia, she said, owns gigantic stockpiles of nuclear armaments. In fact, these two nations hold the 94 percent of the total 16,300 nuclear weapons around the world. “Do they really want a nuclear war with Russia? The only war that you can have with Russia is a nuclear war. … You don’t provoke paranoid countriesarmed to the teeth with nuclear weapons,” she stressed, according to The National Press Club.
Caldicott called attention to the fact that the impending nuclear war is a medical issue that “will create the final epidemic of the human race.” Ukraine has 15 large nuclear power plants in its possession. Any attack on these plants, whether with the most conventional of weapons, would result to a meltdown comparable to the Chernobyl in 1986. She underlined that the Chernobyl meltdown took the lives of more than a million people.
She lauds President Barack Obama for his support of nuclear disarmament. However, with the threats of the ISIS and the Ebola outbreak on his plate, other agencies have overwhelmed his decision. On the other hand, she thinks highly of Russian president Vladimir Putin saying that he is “very restrained at the moment.”
Caldicott underscored that the centenary of the start of the World War 1 had just passed but it the conflicts that spark it stand still. “You know how the First World War started 100 years ago: One person shot an archduke. The pride of the leaders and generals of the great nations did the rest: They went to war. Human fallibility was a major cause then. It is just as common today,” she said.
Wind is the World’s Cheapest Source of Energy According to EU Report, Inhabitat, by Beverley Mitchell, 10/14/14 A report prepared for the European Commission has found that onshore wind power provides the cheapest source of energy once external factors such as air quality, health impacts and expenditure, and the costs of climate change are taken into consideration. The report’s authors found that onshore wind costs around $133 per MW/h to produce, whereas gas and coal cost up to $208 and $295 per MW/h each. However, continuing a controversy that shadowed the Commission last year, extracts from the report have already been published that fail to include the external costs, which is where many of the subsidies to coal, gas and nuclear are made.
These Are The 6 Concepts For The Future Of Nuclear Power, Business Insider GEERT DE CLERCQ OCT 13 2014 “………..the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), developed by France, Russia and China from a concept pioneered in the United States in the 1950s.
Early SFRs built by France, Russia and Japan have suffered corrosion and sodium leaks. But these were not built to GIF standards and the CEA research facility amid the pine trees in Cadarache, southeast France, is working on how to tame sodium as the agency seeks to convince lawmakers to allow construction of its new Astrid reactor, a 600 megawatt SFR.
The Astrid project was granted a 652 million euro ($823 million) budget in 2010 and a decision on construction is expected around 2019.
The use of sodium, which occurs naturally only as a compound in other minerals, presents huge challenges, however.
Nitrogen-driven turbines are being designed to prevent sodium from mixing with water, while purpose-built electromagnetic pumps are seen as the solution to moving the superheated metal within reactors. Then there’s the headache of not being able to see through the liquid metal should something go wrong in a reactor core.
The other five concepts – including lead and helium-cooled fast neutron reactors and three very-high-temperature reactors – are less mature than the SFR and face similar technological hurdles.
But technology is not the only obstacle. Cost is key, as ever, and abundant U.S. shale gas and a renewables energy boom in Europe have undermined the viability of the nuclear industry, leading some GIF member states, including Japan, Canada and Switzerland, to scale back funding. …..http://www.businessinsider.com.au/r-the-key-to-nuclear-s-future-or-an-element-of-doubt-2014-10
Radiation protection pills delivered by end of 2015, Star.com New rules from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission dictate that iodine thyroid-blocking pills must be delivered to homes and workplaces near nuclear plants by the end of next year. By: John Spears Business reporter, Oct 14 2014
People living and working within 8 to 16 kilometres of a nuclear power plant should have radiation protection pills in their hands by the end of 2015, under new federal regulations.
But Durham’s Medical Officer of Health says it will be “very tight – extremely tight” to meet the deadline.New rules from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission dictate that iodine thyroid-blocking pills must be delivered to homes and workplaces near nuclear plants by the end of next year.
The pills, often known as potassium iodide pills or KI pills, inhibit the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.Nuclear plant operators must pay the cost of buying and distributing the pills, but provincial and local health officials will be working out how to get them into the hands of tens of thousands of people from Scarborough to Clarington in time for the deadline.
Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham’s medical officer of health, said his unit already given stocks of pills to pharmacies and to institutions like schools, daycares, and police and fire departments……..
The pills will have to be sent out with readily understandable directions in different languages, he added.And someone will have to track new residents to make sure they get their pills.
The new rules also require pills to be stocked in institutions over a wide area beyond the immediate zones around the plants, he said. Continue reading
THE federal government will pump $188.5 million into new Industry Growth Centres to provide infrastructure in five key sectors of the economy in a move that will spell the end of Cooperative Research Centres……..
Abbott’s thuggish agenda steers country down authoritarian path Old Dog Thoughts, 14 Oct 124 THE Abbott Government is a regime with a taste for authoritarianism the like of which we have not seen in Australia since World War II.
It is using the pretext of a terrorist group called ISIS, operating thousands of miles from this island continent, to strip freedoms and empower security and police agencies in a way that is frightening, so frightening in fact that the venerable Washington Post last week described Australia as a “national security state”.
The authoritarianism of the Abbott Government also manifests itself in seeking to suborn the ABC and turn it into a tame propagandist for the reactive conservatism of Mr Abbott and thuggish lieutenants like Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General George Brandis. Sounding more like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe or Russia’s Vladimir Putin than the leader of a democratic country, Mr Abbott once complained that the ABC is too often not on the side of Australia. A troubling comment and symptomatic of the intolerance of dissent and critical commentary that is part and parcel of the modus operandi of the Abbott Government……….
All this — anti terror laws, Abbott’s patting the ABC on the back for being loyal and Mr Morrison’s legal bullying — in only a month. But look at the pattern. This is a government obsessed with secrecy and pumping taxpayers’ dollars into police, spies and the military. It is a government that berates its critics in a way that makes former Liberal prime minister John Howard look positively tolerant.
Australia suffers from having no real check on an authoritarian leader like Mr Abbott. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shares many of the unfortunate undemocratic traits of Mr Abbott, but he is fortunately constrained by a cultural and legal commitment in that country to citizens having enforceable protections via a human rights charter. Even in the US, citizens have more protection against authoritarian actions than is the case in Australia.
Maybe Australians don’t care. After all, this country started its European days by wiping out indigenous Australians and as a jail for the UK. It is a country that has never had to struggle to maintain democracy. It is a lazy democracy as a result and easily scared by mythical invaders from elsewhere.
It would be a pity if the Abbott Government were allowed to continue along the authoritarian path it is taking this country down. But it will only stop if Australians realise that the democracy they think exists is being dismantled by a bunch of thugs running Canberra, and a weak opposition in the form of an unprincipled ALP. http://olddogthoughts.com/
The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) met in Alice Springs, with impressive representation from 14 Aboriginal nations, and 16 prominent community organisations from across the land. Their 2014 statement can be read at Beyond Nuclear Initiative . It covers Radioactive waste, Uranium mining, Mine rehabilitation, Women’s health, Men’s health, Weapons, Rare Earths, Land Councils, and the ANFA Netweork.
Australian National University (ANU) announcing it is divesting from fossil fuel investment. Credit to the students who lobbied so hard for this. Credit to ANU too, BUT – the university is keeping its investments in those unethical uranium mining companies BHP and Rio Tinto.
Australia’s Dr Helen Caldicott (- a prophet without honour in her own country?) is speaking publicly at a number of venues in USA – the National Press Club , in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and with Ralph Nader at October 25 – 26 – New York TEACH-IN: TECHNO-UTOPIANISM & THE FATE OF THE EARTH.
Abbott’s latest ?achievements – Squashing renewable energy development initiatives,. Also Abbott posed sentimentally with Aboriginal children, while his government erodes Aboriginal land rights with 99 year leases. Abbott government is ignoring the effect that climate change will have, is already having, on Aboriginal communities, disempowering remote communities, cutting funding to Aboriginal child and family centres, cutting funding to Indigenous legal aid, and a Budget plan to remove half a billion dollars from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios.
Meanwhile – off to war without any community consultation, no formal debate in Parliament, despite Greens’ efforts to initiate one.
Interesting digression. Have you been watching ABC TV’s “The Code” (ABC TV Sundays 8.30 pm)? Its story centres around a truck accident, in which uranium – some kind of radioactive gas was released Last night’s episode revealed that the fictional company Physanto was transporting uranium – in a secret bid to develop Laser Enrichment Technology..
In an open letter to federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane national environment groups, the ACTU, public health and Aboriginal representatives have urged the Minister to move away from a search for a postcode for a remote dump in favour of a credible and open examination of the range of management options.
The groups’ letter states:
For over two decades, successive Australian governments have sought to manage Australia’s radioactive waste inventory through the development of a co-located remote central dump and store. This approach has repeatedly failed to win social license and has been characterised by division, contest and the inability of the Commonwealth to realise a site. There is no reason to think that repeating this approach in a new place would lead to a different outcome and seeking site nominations from communities that often suffer extensive economic disadvantage risks placing many in an invidious position. The approach taken to date on radioactive waste management has led to a polarisation of views and a lack of the consensus and discourse required to realise lasting solutions.
“As health practitioners we see that Australia now has both a real chance and the clear need to avoid another sweep it under the carpet response to our nuclear waste problem,” said Dr Peter Tait of the Public Health Association of Australia.
“A national inquiry into the long term, responsible management of Australia’s nuclear waste is overdue and necessary.” Continue reading
Meeting Statement – 2014
Against a background of strong community protest to the continuing government and industry push for an expanded nuclear sector in Australia, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) held its 17th annual gathering of Aboriginal, environmental and public health representatives who share common concerns over the adverse impacts of the nuclear industry and a common aspiration for a future free of nuclear threats.
The 2014 ANFA meeting was held on Arrernte country in Alice Springs with representatives from the following nations, communities and organisations: Arabunna, Arrernte, Koara, Kokatha Mula, Larrakia, Luritja, Ngaanyatjarra, Tjiwarl, TI Meriam, Warlpiri, Waramungu, Warlmanpa, Wiradjuri, Wongutha, Yankunytjatjara.
Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Conservation Council WA, Environment Centre NT, Freedom Flotilla, Friends of the Earth (Brisbane and Melbourne), Indonesian Greens, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Keep Queensland Nuclear Free, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide, Public Health Association Australia (NT Branch), Uranium Free NSW, West Papua.
The ANFA meeting celebrated and acknowledged the seven-year campaign against a planned radioactive waste dump at Muckaty – an important human and environmental rights victory. Many people from Tennant Creek expressed thanks to ANFA for the strong support and solidarity over the years.
Community representatives shared concerns and experiences about the divisive impacts of the federal government’s approach to waste management. Continuing to pursue only remote dumping options further exploits disadvantaged communities. The meeting endorsed a national statement calling for an independent National Commission into responsible radioactive waste management based on science and evidence instead of a continuation of the flawed and failed process of targeting remote communities.
Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima disaster but there is ongoing pressure for new uranium mines in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland and exploration threats in New South Wales. ANFA condemned the federal and state governments as out of step with the broad opposition to uranium mining across many communities and organisations. The meeting discussed specific action plans to target uranium mining projects across Australia.
The meeting heard of the failures of rehabilitation of uranium mines and called for the national adoption and enforcement of the standard applied at the Ranger mine in Kakadu that requires radioactive mine tailings to be isolated from the environment for no less than ten thousand years.
The meeting heard personal stories and long history of disease and impacts from the nuclear industry, including intergenerational sickness and mental health issues. Base-line studies from the past were not done but should be demanded for any proposed new projects for animals, plants, bush foods and people. There is a need to do healing: the pain and hurt caused by nuclear impacts will always be there but we should support each other through healing and engage our community medical services in collecting data and tracking impacts.
The meeting heard about scientific studies that have demonstrated increases in cancer incidence among Australians exposed to radiation and we are seeing this in our communities. The consensus scientific view is that even the lowest doses of radiation can cause cancer and children and women are at greater risk. The impacts from radiation exposure are seen in our families’ health. In Australia uranium deposits have been known as poison or sickness country by Aboriginal people with strong cultural knowledge about the dangers – this traditional knowledge is still being ignored.
The meeting heard that around 40,000 rounds of depleted uranium weapons have been deployed in Australian military training exercises. This raises serious concerns about where they were used and any subsequent health impacts from these weapons. We recognise the intergenerational health impacts from nuclear weapons testing as well as the documented use and impacts of depleted uranium weapons. The meeting called for all uranium weapons and nuclear weapons to be banned.
The mining and refining of Rare Earth Elements (REE’s) was discussed. There is a need for roundtable discussion of stakeholders in the nuclear free, climate and renewable energy sectors to discuss the role of REE’s in renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar given that mining these elements involves the generation of radioactive uranium and thorium waste.
There was strong concern about the function of Aboriginal Land Councils in different states and territories. The meeting called for greater openess to ensure such bodies represent the wishes of Aboriginal people in their region. There were deep concerns expressed that full consultation does not always happen and ANFA representatives will be seeking to address these issues within their particular Land Councils.
ANFA representatives in each states and territory committed to building the ANFA network and sourcing funds to produce and distribute resources needed for grassroots community education on nuclear issues.
In the shadow of Fukushima there can be no nuclear business as usual and meeting representatives reaffirmed their commitment to actively advance a nuclear free Australia through involvement in ANFA, their communities and organisations.
ANU defends divestments, says fossil fuels companies must diversify into new energy, The Age Heath Aston, political correspondent October 13, 2014 – The head of the Australian National University has defended a decision to dump certain resources stocks from the university’s $1 billion investment portfolio on ethical grounds, saying fossil fuel-reliant companies will not survive the next 20 to 30 years unless they diversify into new energies……
ANU is the first Australian university to divest from fossil fuels but in the United States 19 universities have sold out of investments deemed unethical or a risk to the environment, including the prestigious Stanford University, which has purged its $US19 billion ($22 billion) investment fund. ANU modelled its socially responsible investment policy on that of Stanford.
Professor Young said there had been a “torrent of support” from students and the wider community.
“They have been saying ‘don’t back down’,” he said. “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there around environmental issues and investment.”
ANU Student Association president Cam Wilson said 82% of 2000 students polled before the university made its decision supported divestment.
In an opinion piece written for Fairfax Media, Professor Young, whose ocean research has resulted in his consulting to a range offshore gas and oil companies, questioned the short-term thinking of the divestment critics.
“What will our industries be in 20 or 30 years’ time?” he writes. “I am confident they will not be in producing fossil fuels.”
He told Fairfax Media: “I don’t think fossil fuels will be a big part of the world economy in 20 to 30 years’ time. But, that said, there is a big opportunity for these companies to change the mix of what they produce.”
While seven resources stocks were dumped, ANU has retained investments in mining groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as well as in Woodside Petroleum and Wesfarmers.
Professor Young said those groups were more diversified and showed signs of evolving to new energy sources in future……. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/anu-defends-divestments-says-fossil-fuels-companies-must-diversify-into-new-energy-20141012-114ypp.html
expect to see the issue end up back in federal court, where judges will have to determine whether the NRC’s unwillingness to adopt an actual waste “confidence” policy, instead relying on an assertion that current waste practice is good enough, meets the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act.
Still no confidence in NRC radwaste policy http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/29/still-no-confidence-in-nrc-radwaste-policy/On June 8, 2012, a federal court threw out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s “waste confidence” policy, setting into motion a chain of events that still hasn’t stopped rattling the commission and the entire nuclear power industry.
The court ruled that with the shutdown of the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, radioactive waste repository and no new repository on the horizon, the NRC had no basis to say that it had confidence that radioactive waste would always be managed safely.
Since the Atomic Energy Act requires that the NRC have such confidence in order to issue reactor licenses (and license renewals), the NRC was forced to institute a moratorium on issuance of all reactor licenses.
At the time, the NRC staff said a thorough job on a new policy to replace the “waste confidence” policy would take seven years of work. But the NRC Commissioners decided to rush the job and this summer issued a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that it said functions as a substitute for the policy.
There are a couple (well, at least a couple) problems with this approach. Continue reading
Conflicts of interest abound in the way energy companies charge
Rorting in the power industry about to be laid bare, SMH, October 13, 2014 Michael West Business columnist The government privatisation train is on course for a head-on collision with the parliamentary inquiry into “gold-plating” in the power industry.
At the very time the states are sprucing up their energy companies for sale, further revelations of regulatory rorting will be flowing thick and fast. Gold-plating, or excessive spending on poles and wires, has been shoring up industry returns for the past six years – and driving power bills higher, although demand for electricity actually has been falling.
Now a treasury analyst from Queensland electricity retailer Energex threatens to blow the lid on how the power industry “games the regulator” in unprecedented and gory detail. Cally Wilson walked out of her job at Energex three weeks ago and turned whistleblower, telling the press how her bosses had conspired to push up power prices.She says she was instructed to find a debt rate which would meet management’s targets — in other words, a high rate. “Unusually high” were her words.
The higher the WACC (weighted average cost of capital), the higher the return Energex could claim from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) — and therefore the higher it would charge its customers.
Her allegations of data manipulation are the catalyst for the announcement of the parliamentary inquiry into “gold-plating”. Continue reading