Australian news, and some related international items

Strong opposition to Hill End nuclear waste plan- petition

Protest-No!sign-thisPetition calls to halt Hill End waste plans  By ELLE WATSON , The Weekly, Mudgee, NSW, 10 Feb 16 Campaigners against a proposed nuclear waste dump at Hill End have taken to the streets of Mudgee to gather support for a petition to be presented to parliament later this month.
No Central Waste Nuclear Dump chairwoman Robyn Rayner collected signatures on Monday afternoon and will return before her February 29 deadline.  Since a public meeting at Hill End less than two weeks ago she has collected 15 pages of signatures.
 “We can’t say no any more or any stronger than what we’ve already done and yet when they [government representatives] were asked what their next step was they said that they were going to do a phone survey or pay for an independent survey and then they were going to come back and visit the directly affected neighbours one on one,” Mrs Rayner said.
“How much more of our time are they going to waste? Because we’re all farmers and when you’re dealing with animals there’s always something you have to be doing especially this time of year.
“They say it’s a process but why are they continually wasting money. Ok if they can’t make a decision until after the 120 days why are they still going about what they are doing … when it is 100 per cent unanimous against it and not one person has come out in favour of it other than the landowner.”
 Mrs Rayner said all direct neighbours attended the January 30 meeting bar one and all gave a show of hands objecting to the proposal.  The one neighbour who did not attend the meeting due to business commitment sent an email confirming his objection.
 A spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said “with 120 days set for a formal public consultation period, the department will continue to run its consultation with the Hill End and the other sites until the close of the consultation period on March 11”.
 “The department is sending information on the project to all sites in February, including to the Hill End, Mudgee and Bathurst communities and stands ready to answer any questions to ensure communities are fully informed.   “At the end of this initial consultation period an independent survey company will survey the views of the community and provide this input to the department.”
Mid-Western Regional Council, Bathurst and Lithgow City Councils have all opposed the proposal.
 At a meeting last week Mudgee Chamber of Commerce members were unanimous in their opposition to the facility.
Submissions on the project can still be made by sending an email to

February 12, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

​Calm heads and clear information needed on nuclear medicine and waste claims 

Medical Association for the Prevention of War, 5 Feb 16 Media reports today linking continued access to nuclear medicine to the development of a new national nuclear waste facility do not correctly reflect the situation or advance considered discussion of these issues, according to leading national public health group the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW).
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which runs the Lucas Heights reactor, has increased pressure on the waste dump selection process by saying it will run out of storage capacity by early 2017, and will have to stop making medical isotopes for nuclear medicine use. This statement omits many facts. 
ANSTO has quietly decided to develop a reactor based export industry for medical isotopes, to supply 30% of the world market. This plan, made with no public debate or inquiry, would very significantly increase waste from reactor use. 
In contrast, Canada had an extensive public review of its reactor production in 2009, and decided it did not wish to continue using a reactor to produce isotopes. Reasons included lack of reliable supply (reactors only operate 80% of the year, and do break down from time to time), expense to the taxpayer of the production, and the burden of nuclear waste left in Canada due to international use. 
Medical isotope production
The Canadians have developed proven methods of isotope production using cyclotrons (which does not generate reactor waste), with a successful pilot in January 2015. They are now in the process of scaling up and getting regulatory approvals for this, and look to be able to supply Canada in the next 3-5 years. 
It should be noted that using medical isotope produces extremely little waste. It is reactor production of isotopes that needs public debate and scrutiny. 
We can continue with ANSTO’s business plan, and export to supply the world market. This will leave Australia with vastly increased burden of nuclear waste from international nuclear medicine use, and is the more expensive option.
We can return to business as usual supplying Australia, which means we produce isotopes less than one day a week (not five days a week), with a subsequent major decrease in radioactive waste. This would enable all parties to plan world’s best practice storage in a rational and calm manner. We could further partner with Canada and work to develop cyclotron production of isotopes at commercial scale in Australia. 
This is cheaper and more reliable than reactor production, and does not leave communities, taxpayers and future generations with a nuclear waste burden that will last for millennia. And unlike a nuclear reactor, it poses almost no accident, proliferation or terrorist risks. We do not need to choose between access to nuclear medicine and the time and processes needed to advance responsible radioactive waste management. 

February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Lucas Heights Nuclear Waste Management Facilities

Upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities at Lucas Heights House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, 5 Feb 16 
text-wise-owlThe Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today announced that it is conducting an inquiry into the upgrade and extension of radioactive waste management facilities for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

ANSTO’s submission notes that current storage facilities will reach full capacity early in 2017 and although locations for a new facility are being considered, the new facility is not expected to be operational until 2020.

The inquiry will examine existing low and intermediate-level solid waste facilities at Lucas Heights that require extension and upgrade, with extension works for the low-level solid waste facilities expected to be completed by April 2017, and works for the intermediate-level facilities to be completed by June 2018.

In addition to upgrading and extending storage capacity, works will include upgrading ventilation and security systems, electrical infrastructure and surrounding roads.The estimated cost of the project is $22.3 million and it is anticipated that the Committee will conduct public and in-camera hearings for the inquiry in the near future.

Further information on the public hearing will be available soon on theCommittee’s website.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 10 March 2016.

NB the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is neither involved in the tendering process nor the awarding of contracts. Enquiries on those matters should be addressed to ANSTO.

For media comment – Office of Senator Dean Smith (Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works) (08) 9481 0349 Committee Secretariat (02) 6277 4636Full details on the project are available on the Committee’s website.


February 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Community opposition stops nuclear waste dump: U-turn by MP John Cobb on nuclear policy

Protest-No!Hill End nuclear waste dump ruled out due to community opposition, ABC News 29 Jan 16 By Nick Dole

A nuclear waste facility will not be built at Hill End in central-west New South Wales because community opposition to the proposal is so strong, the Federal Government has said.

The site at Hill End, north of Bathurst, was one of six being considered for a nuclear waste facility.
It was offered up by a local landowner, who could be paid four times the land’s market value.

At a packed public meeting on Saturday, dozens of residents spoke against the concept, telling representatives from the Federal Government that Hill End was a “totally inappropriate” location.

Many residents expressed concerns about potential water contamination or the risk of transporting radioactive material.  Local resident Kerri Burns said Hill End should be removed from the selection process immediately.
“We’ve been polite, but if this goes further, the gloves are off,” she said.

The audience was told Hill End would remain on the shortlist for now, due to a legislated consultation process.

But the Member for Calare, John Cobb, said he had already communicated the community’s view to Minister Josh Frydenberg.

“I said, ‘We are not going to be building this at Hill End’ and he looked at me and I said ‘The community is against it and they are not going to change their mind’,” Mr Cobb said……..

January 31, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Cyclotrons able to produce medical isotopes; no need for Lucas Heights nuclear reactor

cyclotron - small partcle accelerator, CanadaThis production method for Tc-99m can be used by retrofitting various brands of conventional cyclotrons already in use in hospitals and health centres across Canada.
 Depending on the machine capability, a large metropolitan area could be supplied by a single dedicated, or a handful of partially dedicated, medical cyclotrons.
Medical isotope production in Australia: Should we be using reactor based or cyclotron technology? 15th January 2016  Dr Margaret Beavis MBBS FRACGP MPH Medical Association for Prevention of War, Australia Health Professionals Promoting Peace  “…….Cyclotron isotope production A cyclotron is an electromagnetic device (about the size of a four wheel drive car) used to accelerate charged particles (ions) to sufficiently high speed (energy) so that when it impinges upon a target the atoms in the target are transformed into another element. 10 In other words, it uses electricity and magnets to shoot a narrow beam of energy at elements, e.g. molybdenum-100, a natural material, and this produces technetium-99.
A cyclotron differs from a linear accelerator in that the particles are accelerated in an expanding spiral rather than in a straight line.
The Canadian approach In 2009 the Canadian Government Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production recognised that cyclotron technology could readily be adapted to produce isotopes.

Continue reading

January 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, reference | 1 Comment

Highly misleading to say that Lucas Heights nuclear reactor is mainly for medical uses

nuclear-medicineit would be highly misleading to attribute this predominantly to medical isotope production given the broad range of uses of the HIFAR and MOATA reactors over the last 60 years.
Radioactive waste in Australia, Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) 18 Jan 16   “……..How much medical Lucas-wasteswaste will be deposited in the repository? Less than 1% is medical waste (leftover radium and some disused sources). Most states and territories each only have a few cubic metres of low level medical waste.
 There are broadly two areas in which radioactive material is used for medical purposes:
Nuclear scans for investigating disease. These produce the vast bulk of medical nuclear waste. This is short-lived and decays on the medical facilities’ premises until its activity is negligible. It then is disposed of safely and appropriately in the usual manner of most waste (sewers, incineration, landfill tips etc.) according to set standards.
Cancer treatment radiotherapy. Most radiotherapy uses X-rays or electromagnetic radiation which do not produce any waste at all. A very small proportion of cancer treatment actually relies on radioactive materials, which almost all decay rapidly. Longer lived sources must be returned to their (overseas) sources when used up and so do not need local disposal. The provision of nuclear medicine services does not depend on a permanent waste repository.
What about the radioactive waste derived from the production of medical isotopes at Lucas Heights?
 • Firstly, most countries import their medical isotopes and clearly do not store the waste involved in its production. Medical isotope supply is a globalised industry with five reactors supplying over 95% of the world’s supply. Australia’s domestic production of medical isotopes is a policy choice not a medical necessity.
 • Secondly, Canada (the world’s biggest supplier) is switching to non-reactor isotope production, which does not create radioactive waste. This will significantly reduce Canada’s accumulation of waste. In contrast, ANSTO is proposing to dramatically increase reactor isotope production to sell to 30% of the world market. As a result Australia will accumulate much more waste from international isotope sales. Developing cyclotrons instead (like Canada) would eliminate radioactive waste from isotope production. • Thirdly, as outlined above, the majority of waste requiring long term disposal is not medically related at all. ANSTO emphasizes “only 40% of low level radioactive waste” arises from its activities. But ANSTO does not just make medical isotopes; it also produces isotopes for industrial research activities , manufacture of semiconductors and analysis of minerals and samples2 . The contribution to waste production of medical radiopharmaceuticals has been overstated.
Although 61% of Intermediate level waste is ANSTO related, this is only 5.8% of the total waste for the repository. Furthermore, this does not include the returning reprocessed spent fuel, since ANSTO does not classify spent fuel waste. And again it would be highly misleading to attribute this predominantly to medical isotope production given the broad range of uses of the HIFAR and MOATA reactors over the last 60 years………

January 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Planned New South Wales solar farm may have Aboriginal stakeholders

sunWind company seeking Aboriginal stakeholders for possible solar farm development By Kerrin Thomas The company behind the White Rock Wind Farm, to be located in northern New South Wales, is considering developing a solar farm nearby and is seeking Aboriginal stakeholders to assist in preparing a heritage assessment.

Construction of Stage 1 of the White Rock Wind Farm is expected to start soon, at the site 24kms west of Glen Innes.

70 wind turbines will be constructed initially, expected to produce enough energy to power 75,000 homes a year.

The proponent, Goldwind Australia, has now engaged a company to conduct an assessment of the Aboriginal heritage impacts of a potential solar farm adjacent to the wind farm site.

The company is proposing a 20 to 25 MW facility that would occupy an area of about 50 hectares, with power to be exported through the wind farm’s substation.

NGH Environmental has been engaged to seek information from Aboriginal Stakeholders with cultural knowledge of the Maybole/Spring Mountain area. The purpose of the consultation with Aboriginal people is to assist the proponent in the preparation of the Aboriginal heritage assessment.

Those involved in the process will be required to assist in the determination of the cultural significance of any Aboriginal objects or places within the subject area.

Registrations close later this month.

January 14, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

NSW Farmers launch a renewable energy calculator for rural businesses

renewable-energy-pictureRenewable energy calculator launched for farmers 12th Jan 2016 NSW Farmers has developed and launched an online calculator to help households and small farm businesses to test the financial viability of investing in solar PV and batteries.

The online calculator was launched to coincide with Tesla’s announcement that Australia would be the first market to receive its PowerWall battery which, along with other battery products, is expected to significantly accelerate the penetration of renewable energy across Australia.

NSW Farmers energy expert Gerry Flores cautioned households and small to medium farm businesses to adopt a conservative approach to this new technology.

“It’s important for farm business owners to consider whether energy storage is right for them before they make any substantial investments,” he said.

Mr Flores, a photovoltaics engineer who developed the calculator, said it could estimate potential savings and the financial case for several scenarios in NSW.

To help households and farm businesses better understand and utilise the calculator, NSW Farmers will hold a webinar on Friday January 22 at 10:30am.

For further information or to register click here.

For more information about the calculator click here.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Leeton, New South Wales: plan for multimillion dollar solar farm

Solar-Farm-Canberra proposed for Wumbulgul  A $90m solar farm is proposed near Leeton in the New South Wales Riverina, to help power a new rail freight hub in the region. Photon Energy has been in discussions with Leeton Shire Council since 2012 about a solar development.

It’s now asked the state government to consider a proposal for a 100 megawatt plant, with the ability to double that output, next to the recently opened Western Riverina Intermodal Freight Terminal at Wumbulgul.

Documentation lodged with the Planning Department states the solar farm would be on a 140 hectare site on the Griffith Road and would take around a year to build.

Photon estimates the farm would have a life of around 30 years, after which infrastructure could be updated or the site rehabilitated.

The application says feedback from initial discussions in August is positive and a community consultation plan will be developed.

The Department is now preparing its requirements for the solar project.

January 7, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Enova – Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer

“what we do is we buy from the national energy market and sell to you; it comes through the grid. “In order for you to have renewable energy, we enter into agreements to purchase green power from accredited renewable energy providers, so that whenever we are selling you energy we are offsetting that with green energy certificates.”

Ms Crook said Enova also hoped to increasingly buy from local renewable energy generators.

“What we hope to be doing is facilitating the development of community-scale renewable generation,”

logo EnovaAustralia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer Enova to open its doors in Byron Bay  ABC North Coast, 5 Jan 16  By Samantha Turnbull Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer, Enova, is about to open its doors in northern New South Wales after raising $3.8 million from 1,090 investors.

Seventy-five per cent of the voting shares are held on the NSW north coast, but chair Alison Crook said the company had attracted investors from every state and territory in Australia. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Broken Hill has Southern hemisphere’s largest solar energy project

sunThe industry is looking for assurance that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is more climate-friendly than his predecessor, Tony Abbott, who said coal was “good for humanity.”

How Broken Hill became a solar power trailblazer, SMH December 22, 2015 James Paton Broken Hill spawned the world’s largest mining company and generated more than $75 billion in wealth. Now as its minerals ebb, Australia’s longest-lived mining city is looking to tap a more abundant resource.

On the sun-baked edge of the outback city, 700 miles west of Sydney, a solar farm the size of London’s Hyde Park shimmers like an oasis – its panels sending enough electricity to the national grid to power 17,000 homes a year.

Combined with a sister plant, the AGL Energy and First Solar project is the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere. Clean energy advocates are counting on the 140-hectare development to make Broken Hill, which at one time boasted the world’s most successful silver mine, a trailblazer once again. Continue reading

December 30, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Solar thermal plant at Forbes, New South Wales,has great potential

“This sort of technology will put massive amounts of money into regional Australia if it takes off “.

“It could be very significant here in Australia but also, there are significant overseas opportunities for Vast where Australia could earn export dollars.”

solar therma Forbes NSW

Developer of $20 million Australian-first solar thermal pilot plant predicts sunny future under Turnbull  ABC Central West  By Melanie Pearce 23 Dec 15  After hours of steady rain, there is not a ray of sunshine in sight and the mud is thick on the ground at the $20 million Jemalong pilot solar thermal plant near Forbes in central west New South Wales.

But in a way, the fact it is overcast helps to explain the importance of this technology, which enables both capture and storage of energy from the sun, according to James Fisher, chief technology officer of Vast Solar.

The engineer, who formerly worked in the fossil fuel industry and said he never thought renewables could compete with coal, now has a much sunnier outlook on the subject.

Technology behind solar thermal power plant

The Australian company has developed what it hopes will be a low-cost, high-efficiency Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) generation technology.

The Jemalong pilot plant will be ready for commissioning in mid-January and is designed to prove the technology works. Continue reading

December 27, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Lithgow concerned about transport of radioactive trash

radiation-truckCalls for clarity over nuclear waste transportation plans
The Federal Government is being urged to provide more details about the planned route for a proposed nuclear waste dump in the central west. 
The government is considering housing the waste at Sallys Flat near Bathurst and federal MP John Cobb has said regional roads would be upgraded to support heavy vehicle movements.

But Lithgow City Councillor Wayne McAndrew says it is highly likely the material will be transported through Lithgow to get to the site.

He said residents had raised concerns about the potential health impacts if a truck was involved in an accident.

“It’s not just a matter of the roads, it’s the icy conditions during winter coming down the Mount Victoria pass,” Councillor McAndrew said.

“That’s still a long way off from being resolved, the Victoria pass in relation to new roadworks, so it’s not just an issue of the roads it’s an issue of our long winter months and some of the dangers that poses for us.”

Sallys Flat near Hill End is one of the six sites shortlisted by the Federal Government.

Councillor McAndrew says there is little information about the planned route for transporting the waste.

December 16, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, safety | Leave a comment

New wind farms to go ahead as Turnbull removes barrier to Clean Energy investment

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. End of Tony Abbott’s war on wind farms gives green light to Capital Region projects, Canberra Times, December 13, 2015  Canberra Times reporter Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to lift Tony Abbott’s controversial ban on government investment in wind power has been embraced by the Australian Capital Region farming community.

On Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed Environment Minister Greg Hunt has issued the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with new orders that negate the Abbott government’s June decree, which prohibited the $10 billion green bank from investing in new wind power projects.

The move gives the Clean Energy Finance Corporation the green light to fund many wind farms in the Southern Tablelands – one of Australia’s fastest growing wind investment regions – enabling them to progress from planning to construction.

Crookwell farmer and NSW regional organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance, Charlie Prell, said wind farms now able to access funding include Collector, Rye Park, Yass Valley, Bango, Rugby, Crookwell two and three, Capital two, and Boco two.

“All of these wind farms will contribute massively to the local economy, not only during construction, but over the life of the wind farms,” Mr Prell said.

“It’s giving farmers in these regions a passive income stream with making our operations more sustainable, financially and environmentally, and giving local businesses the opportunity to participate in construction activities.”

Under the new mandate, the corporation will be allowed to invest in any wind projects provided they involve “emerging and innovative” technology, although it does encourage it to “focus on offshore wind technologies”.

Mr Prell said the wind farms already operating in this area have contributed significantly to small business, particularly in Goulburn, Bungendore, Taralga and Crookwel……..

December 14, 2015 Posted by | ACT, New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Hill End community not satisfied with MP John Cobb’s attitude to nuclear waste dump proposal

MP’s apology fails to pacify residents, Western Advocate By LOUISE EDDY  Dec. 11, 2015 When members of the Hill End community gathered in the Royal Hall on Wednesday morning they wanted only one thing – for Member for Calare John Cobb to ask what he could do to help.

This was the third meeting the community has held to discuss Sallys Flat being short-listed for a national nuclear waste dump, and the first the federal member has been able to attend.

Community spokesperson Robyn Rayner said around 100 people attended the meeting, many of them new faces. Mr Cobb had earlier drawn the community’s anger when he dismissed their concerns about the safety of the proposed facility.


Ms Rayner said Mr Cobb apologised to the meeting for the way the matter had been handled, and for not being in contact with the community prior to Wednesday’s meeting.

“We appreciate the fact that he did turn up, but he treated us with utter contempt,” she said. “At no time did he say ‘What can I do to help you’,” she said…….

Yesterday Mr Cobb said he would help by conveying to the minister the fact that the community don’t want the waste dump.

However, despite assurances Sallys Flat won’t be further shortlisted if the community opposes the nuclear waste dump, Mr Cobb said the matter cannot end here and now.  “They do want to finish this now, but the minister has set that consultation period because those who do want to consult privately with the minister should have that right,” Mr Cobb said. He said it was a good meeting.

“But I think people had made their minds up they didn’t want it,” he said.

“There are some communities in Australia who will think – here’s an opportunity. You are not often offered the chance to get $10 million. But it’s their choice. I don’t live there,” he said. Mr Cobb said he would be visiting the Lucas Heights reactor shortly to take a look.“It’s 14 years since I’ve been there. I’m sure there is no danger but I want to go back and reassure myself,” he said.

Ms Rayner said there were concerns Mr Cobb was not taking the matter seriously enough.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,016 other followers