for the traditional owners to have any confidence in the capacity of ERA and the regulators to manage Ranger the recommendations of the report must be acted on “swiftly and completely”.
Uranium miner ERA ‘did not meet expected standards’, new report over Kakadu acid spill says By James Dunlevie ABC News 24 Oct 14 A report has criticised standards at a Kakadu uranium mine, but local Aboriginal people say the investigation process had broken down and they had not been told the report was being released.
The investigation looked into the circumstances surrounding the incident at the Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) Ranger uranium mine in the national park, where 1,400 cubic metres of acidic slurry was spilt out of a collapsed tank about 1:00am on December 7, 2013.
The report found “at the time of the tank failure ERA’s management of process safety and its corporate governance did not meet expected standards”. In a joint statement announcing the release of the report, Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane and his Territory counterpart, Willem Westra Van Holte, thanked the members of the Ranger Incident Taskforce for their efforts “in particular, the contributions by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Land Council”.
It’s just absurd that you would establish a taskforce to investigate … over a nearly 12-month period and then release the report and not have any dialogue with any taskforce members.Justin O’Brien, CEO Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation
ERA to lift safety standards at Ranger Uranium Mine 24 October, 2014 Ben Hagemann Australian Mining, The Ranger Uranium mine has been directed to engage in improvements to process safety procedures on site, as a result of inadequate safety at the time of the failure of a leach tank in December last year.
The Department of Industry released a summary joint statement for the investigation which said that at the time of the failure of Leach Tank 1, the management of process safety and its corporate governance did not meet the expected standards. Continue reading
Moore’s trip to Australia has been financed through the climate science denial organisation the Galileo Movement.
Moore is almost always described as a co-founder of Greenpeace, despite Greenpeace itself contesting that he wasn’t a co-founder.
An archive of Moore’s CV shows his work for corporations and organisations in logging, pulp and paper and mining. He has also been an advocate for the nuclear energy industry.
Climate Science Denialist Patrick Moore Tours Australia After Comparing Students to the Taliban http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/23/climate-science-denialist-patrick-moore-tours-australia-after-comparing-students-taliban#disqus_thread Canadian climate science denialist Patrick Moore is at the beginning of a tour around Australia speaking to audiences across the country.
But here’s a warning. If you do find yourself in the audience and don’t want to be compared to the “Taliban” then don’t even think about walking out in protest.
Less than two weeks before flying to Australia, Moore spoke on the campus of Amherst Collegein Massachusetts. When members of the college’s environmental group decided they had heard enough and walked, Moore said they had a “Taliban mindset”.
When he was later asked to apologise, a report in the Amherst College student newspaper says Moore instead chose to double-down on his remark. “Fifty people walk out, and I say that’s a pretty Taliban thing to do,” Moore is reported to have said, characterizing the behavior of the young students to that of the fundamentalist regime that massacred thousands and committed brutal repression of women.
Who is Patrick Moore?
Moore has no scientific credibility on climate change and has never published a scientific paper on the issue. Yet Moore claims there is “no scientific proof” that humans are causing global warming and that “throwing bones on the ground” would have a better predictive ability than most climate models.
His opinion on the science runs against all the major national science academies in the world and about 97 per cent of all the peer reviewed studies on climate change carried out since the early 1990s. Continue reading
“The agreement poses a very real risk to the environment,” says Professor Jane Kelsey, an expert on globalisation and economic regulation from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “If Australia signs an agreement with these mechanisms in place it will make it harder for the government to put new regulations in place.”
That includes any subsidies we might put on renewable energy, or protection we might put in place to save an endangered species.”
Kelsey. “The Abbott government is basically be binding the hands of all future governments on environmental issues.”
So what is the likelihood of Australia ending up signing the agreement as it stands? Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he’s extremely supportive of signing the deal, and Andrew Robb, has stated that negotiations are in the final stages and the treaty is“ready to be sealed”.
TPP: the free-trade threat to Australia’s environment, ABC 24 Oct 14 FIONA MACDONALD Australia is preparing to sign an agreement that would give international corporations the power to go over the government’s head on environmental issues. Here’s what you need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
STRETCHING WIDE, blue and deep, the St Lawrence River in Canada drains America’s Great Lakes to the sea. Along its shores, painted weatherboard cottages cradled by vibrant autumnal trees take in the view of the vast body of water.
This peaceful scene belies the legal battle for what lies underground along this river basin. The Canadian state of Quebec is being sued for CAD$250 million of taxpayers’ money after putting a pause on fracking.
To be clear, Quebec hasn’t decided to ban fracking, it’s simply asked for time to conduct environmental studies to find out whether the process is safe — but mining company Lone Pine Resources has taken the government to an international court, claiming it’s lost millions of dollars in profits as a result of the snap decision.
And if previous trials are anything to go by, there’s a good chance Lone Pine will win, even if it turns out fracking is dangerous to the environment and public health.
It sounds crazy, but it’s legal. And under an agreement Australia is set to sign within 12 months, companies operating in Australia will be able to sue the Government if it makes decisions that hurt their profits — for example, putting in new policies to protect the environment. Continue reading
On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.
THE FORGOTTEN COUP Little Darwin, John Pilger 24 Oct 14 – How America and Britain crushed the government of Australia Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.
Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing. Continue reading
Residents gather to oppose threat of uranium mining The Daily Liberal By MARK RAYNER Oct. 25, 2014 A strong crowd has turned out to voice their opposition to the Alkane Zirconia Mine, arguing the minerals it will extract pose a risk to the Dubbo community. About 70 people attended the meeting, entitled Alkane Rare Earth Mine: Radioactive Risk?, which was run by Uranium Free NSW.
They heard from the Central West Environmental Council’s Bev Smiles and Dr Gavin Mudd, who gave their opinions on rare earth and uranium mining. They are lobbying for a rejection of the Alkane proposal by the Planning and Assessment Commission on the basis uranium and thorium will be extracted. A decision is expected in November.
David Mould from Uranium Free Dubbo questioned the value of the project to the whole city.
“So far Alkane’s plans have not taken the health of Dubbo residents into account building a radioactive project without adequate consideration of engineering risks upstream of Dubbo’s drinking water supply.” Mr Mould said.
“Five out of 11 councillors stand to make money out of this project and the expansion of mining in Dubbo. How can Dubbo and Central West residents feel secure that their government cares for people over profit?”
Ms Smiles said with one of the largest deposits of uranium in NSW thought to exist in Toongi, the decision by the current state government to overturn a moratorium on uranium mining could be a negative thing for the region.
“The people of the Central West are concerned that this area has been targeted by the NSW government to open up uranium mining in NSW,” she said……..
The Planning Assessment Commission review for the Alkane Zirconia Project is November 4. Written submissions and applications to speak at the review close 1pm Wednesday October 29. Email email@example.com or phone (02) 9383 2112.
General Electric a “massive investor” in renewable energy worried about changes to Renewable Energy Target
General Electric boss calls for certainty over renewable energy target, SMH, October 23, 2014 Anne Hyland Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest investors in clean energy, has demanded the federal government provide certainty around its renewable energy target.
Mr Immelt in an interview with The Australian Financial Review said a “certainty of rules” was crucial for investment.
“These debates are all natural that are taking place in Australia and people can understand those,” he said. “But it’s important to know what the rules will be so people can invest around it.”
He said the sooner the uncertainty was resolved around the RET, the “better for everybody”………
General Electric has about $US10 billion ($12.6 billion) in cumulative investments in renewable energy assets globally, which are predominantly in wind and solar.
On its Australian website, GE had noted Australia was leading the world in its renewable energy policy and, as a result, wind energy in Australia was projected to the most commercially viable form of renewable energy over the next five to 10 years.
However, this could change under the government’s plans to alter the RET.
Mr Immelt said GE “began to invest massively” in clean energy after 2004 when it concluded that climate change was real…..
.The federal government’s proposal to almost halve the amount of renewable energy legislated to be to be produced by 2020 has been rejected by the Labor Party after it dismissed it as “completely unacceptable”…..http://www.smh.com.au/business/general-electric-boss-calls-for-certainty-over-renewable-energy-target-20141023-11aoc3.html
North Coast solar industry worried by changes to Renewable Energy Target ABC News 23 Oct 2014, The North Coast solar industry says it will be impacted by changes to the Federal Government’s changes to the renewable energy target (RET).
The target is currently set at 41,000 kilowatts of renewable energy by 2020, but the Government wants to reduce that to 26,000 to reflect falling demand for power.
The changes would only impact large-scale RET projects directly, with the small-scale scheme excluded………
Geoff Tosio from Bellingen Solar Depot said the even with the small-scale target excluded, his business will still suffer if the target is lowered.
“In regards to the renewable energy target being chopped down to a “real” 20 percent, if that’s going to happen, then how is that going to happen?” he asked.
“To say that’s not going to affect household solar is quite disingenuous.”
Mr Tosio said a particular concern is that large-scale contracts will be impacted.
“We would see a dramatic reduction in the medium size, commercial size, systems that we sell,” he said.
“So while I think it’s better than the previous position, we’ll probably still see a quarter of the industry go very, very quiet.
“And that will definitely have an impact on employment.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-24/north-coast-solar-industry-worried-by-changes-to-renewable-ener/5839124
Gough Whitlam: former PM was father of Aboriginal land rights in Australia http://www.news.com.au/national/gough-whitlam-former-pm-was-father-of-aboriginal-land-rights-in-australia/story-fncynjr2-1227097636875 OCTOBER 21, 2014 GOUGH Whitlam left the political scene decades ago, but Aborigines still — and always will — acknowledge him as the father of land rights in Australia.
The Rirratjingu clan of northeast Arnhem Land today held a small smoking ceremony, led by Yothu Yindi founder Wityana Marika, and grieved for the man who forced white law to recognise our first people.
- At the time Whitlam came to power in 1972, Aborigines in northeast Arnhem Land were reeling from the 1971 Milirrpum v Nabalco case in the Northern Territory Supreme Court, which found that they had no sovereign rights to their land.
- The government of Robert Menzies had in the 1960s granted Nabalco total rights to mine bauxite on the tribal lands of the Yolngu people, without the consent of the traditional owners, whom the court later deemed did not exist in Australian law.
Whitlam, alert to the injustice, ordered the Woodward Royal Commission in 1973, which recommended the recognition of land rights in the Territory.
- Prior to this, a group of Aborigines led by Vincent Lingiari walked off Wave Hill station, in the west of the Territory, demanding equal wages and conditions and stockmen.
Their struggled morphed into a campaign for land rights, strengthened by the findings of the Woodward commission.
In 1975, Whitlam handed back the Wave Hill lease to Aborigines, famously running sand through the hand of Lingiari. He told him: “Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof in Australian law that these lands belong to the Gurindji people, and I put into your hands part of the earth as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.”
Whitlam had by then drafted the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, though would be overthrown before it became law. His successor, Malcolm Fraser, passed the legislation almost unchanged, knowing that the time for recognition had come.
- All this was possible in the Territory, because it didn’t have full state rights; and state governments were by then eyeing the land rights’ developments nervously.
They fought against land rights, fearing they would surrender huge tracts of land to traditional owners.
In 1992, national recognition finally came when the High Court heard the Mabo case and found the doctrine of terra nullius — of Australia as an empty land prior to white arrival — to be a myth.
This led to the creation of Native Title law, which gave Aborigines cultural and economic rights to their land. All of this tied directly back to Milirrpum v Nabalco.
The son of Milirrpum, Wanyubi Marika, described Whitlam as “a very important man. Before him there was no land rights. “My father lost the case because of terra nullius. Mabo picked up the land rights issue from Arnhem Land and made it clear about the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait ownership of the country.
“(Whitlam) was very helpful to our people, to our fathers. We want to think about his work and we will let his spirit be with us, going forward.”
Kirsten Blair, 22 Oct 14 Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation was disappointed to learn that Ministers Ian MacFarlane and Willem Westra van Holthe had released a summary report of the investigation into the collapse of a leach tank at the Ranger uranium mine within the bounds of Kakadu National Park late last year without consulting all members of the investigation taskforce.
Gundjeihmi, which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger mine site, has a position on the taskforce which was established to investigate last year’s radiological accident but was not informed of the intention to release the report yesterday.
Justin O’Brien CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation said “We are bitterly disappointed that the investigation taskforce process has broken down, not for any want of trying on our part. It is critical that the recommendations of this report are fully implemented with highest priority given to a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework at Ranger, a point which the ministers have acknowledged but up to this point have not committed to act on.
“The tank collapse which sent over a million litres of radioactive acid spilling across the mine site was yet another example of the poor management and failed systems at Ranger. For Traditional Owners to gain have any confidence in the capacity of the Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and the regulators to manage this mine the recommendations of this report must be acted on swiftly and completely.
“ERA wants to expand the Ranger mine underground. Without a comprehensive regulatory review and implementation of the remaining recommendations it would be ludicrous for the Federal Government to even consider such a proposal.” Mr O’Brien concluded
Going nuclear: Australia’s Macquarie buys Deutsche uranium book -source By David Sheppard LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Australian investment bank Macquarie Group has bought Deutsche Bank’s uranium book, a source familiar with the matter said, as the increasingly commodities-focused lender pushes deeper into global energy trading.
The deal includes Deutsche’s long-term trading contracts and stockpiles of low-grade uranium yellowcake, which were valued at the end of last year at around $200 million.
Industry experts say they comprise enough uranium to fuel around 10 average-sized nuclear power plants for 12-18 months………
Trading firms hold uranium stockpiles in warehouses specially licensed to store the fuel, like U.S. conglomerate Honeywell International Inc’s ConverDyn facility in Illinois; Cameco’s Port Hope facility in Ontario; and Areva SA’s facility in France. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/macquarie-uranium-commodities-idUSL6N0SH3PN20141022
Graziers on alert as uranium exploration looms ABC News, By Jacqueline Breen 19 Oct 14 Graziers are watching closely as the state government prepares to grant uranium exploration licenses in the state’s far west.
Last month the government overturned the ban on uranium exploration and invited six companies to apply to explore for deposits near Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
The state’s Resources and Energy Division has since held a stakeholder meeting in Broken Hill, attended by the local council, New South Wales Farmers and the West Darling Pastoralists’ Association.
Association president Chris Wilhelm says landholders will be the first affected when exploration begins and he wants their rights protected……( Map below shows areas in New South Wales where uranium deposts exist, could be explored for))
The ban on uranium mining in New South Wales remains in place. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/graziers-watch-closely-as-uranium-exploration-looms/5825950
Hillside mine: Greens call for release of ‘uranium appendices’ for Yorke Peninsula open pit, ABC News 19 Oct 14
The Greens are calling for the release of documents relating to uranium deposits at a copper mine approved for South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
Earlier this year mining company Rex Minerals submitted a document to the South Australian Government that responded to community concerns about the potential contamination of prime farmland from the Hillside mine.
The Government responded by approving the 2.4-kilometre-long, 1km-deep and 450m-deep open pit near Ardrossan that would extract 2 million tonnes of copper, 1.7 million ounces of gold and 44 million tonnes of iron ore over 15 years.
Some parts of the mining lease proposal documents, however, were deemed “commercial-in-confidence” and withheld from publication.
State Greens leader Mark Parnell has submitted a freedom of information application to view the documents and see how much uranium is at the site.
He said appendices 36 and 37 related to uranium and were being “kept secret”.
“If the company says ‘nothing to worry about’, then they should have nothing to worry about releasing the documents that explain exactly where the radioactive hotspots are,” Mr Parnell said………
EPA regulation levels to be reduced
South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulations take effect at 200ppm – a level that would soon be reduced to 80ppm in line with national guidelines……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/greens-call-for-the-release-of-uranium-appendices-hillside-mine/5826048
“Tony Abbott’s international reputation for climate change inaction is growing, to the detriment of Australian businesses who are trying to retain and attract overseas investors,”
Abbott’s Australia ranked dead last on climate, green investment http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/australia-green-economy-65014By Sophie Vorrath on 20 October 2014 Australia’s dramatic backwards slide on climate action and low-carbon policy under the federal Coalition is, by now, well documented. Since coming into power, Tony Abbott and his climate-sceptic team have dumped the nation’s world-leading carbon pricing scheme, wound back renewable energy support mechanisms, and taken aim at the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, ARENA and the RET.
But a new international report puts just how far Australia has fallen behind the rest of the world on climate, clean energy and green investment into sharp perspective.
The fourth edition of the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) was released on Monday, measuring the green economic performance of 60 countries based on four key dimensions: leadership & climate change, efficiency sectors, markets & investment and environment & natural capital.
Embarrassingly enough, Australia’s performance on actions that support clean energies and combat climate change ranks 37th – down from fourth spot in 2012.
But in the Leadership section, Australia comes a resounding last – a result the GGEI report puts down to negative media coverage, “unconstructive behavior” in international forums, and overall poor climate change performance. Continue reading
King Island’s wind farm fate closes in http://www.themercury.com.au/king-islands-wind-farm-fate-closes-in/story-fnj3twbb-1227095516599 HELEN KEMPTON MERCURY OCTOBER 20, 2014
THE King Island community should know by early next year if their remote Bass Strait home will also become home to the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.
Hydro Tasmania has almost completed a feasibility study into its $2 billion, 200-turbine proposal and is expected to announce early next year if the project will go ahead.
The decision also hinges on the Federal Government not scrapping the Renewable Energy Target. Hydro Tasmania is one of 16 major renewable energy companies who have argued for the retention of the present RET.
The TasWind project is forecast to pump more than $7 million a year into the island economy and provide an estimated $220 million annual revenue boost to the state’s coffers.
Debate over the pros and cons of the proposal has divided the small community and Hydro Tasmania started its feasibility study after 58 per cent of residents indicated they wanted to move on to the assessment stage.