Australian news, and some related international items

Assessment of Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission forums

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINMy impression is that the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission community forums are pretty formulaic. Kevin Scarce has got it all down pat , and does not stray from his agenda of the 4 Issues in the Terms of Reference.  A bit of lip service is paid to Renewable Energy, but it is clear that this will not feature in the serious examination of energy technologies. There is complete avoidance of legal issues.

The thing that gets me about Kevin Scarce and the Royal Commission, and the media coverage – is theScarce,--Kevin-glow pretense that this is all just a South Australian affair – despite the fact that these nuclear developments are illegal under national law. Of course this whole idea of making South Australia the world’s nuclear hub and waste dump concerns all of Australia.

The meeting at Coober Pedy (14/5/15) was quite a lively one, and the audience showed a degree of knowledge and sophistication that The Royal Commissioners might not have expected to find, in such a remote location. Concerns aired in questions included the problems of nuclear wastes – problems handed over to future generations, environmental concerns, and support for renewable energy rather than nuclear .

At University of South Australia – Mawson Lakes, (19/5/15) about 50 people attended. I have no report on this, other than that at least one University lecturer was worried  that harmful affects of tourism and agriculture and food would not be properly addressed, and small businesses would not put in submissions about the potential harm to their business.

At Adelaide University(22/5/15) around 250 people attended, and pro nuclear people were slightly in the majority – as evidenced by  a show of hands when asked for this. David Noonan of Wilderness Society didn’t get to ask his question – that the proposed activities the RC is investigating are currently illegal in Australia!

At Flinders University (20/5/15)  – (see report on this page) there was some pretty lively questioning.  Kevin Scarce was able to deflect very deftly any difficult questions. His two best techniques –  to point out that matters are “not in the Terms of Reference” and to urge the questioner to seek the answer and “put in a submission”.

A concern that showed up in Adelaide meetings was that of bias – questioners wanted to know about the agendas, the interests of the staff and expert advisers on the Commission. They also wanted to know about the companies involved, and their submissions to the Commission – will the Commission be transparent about this?


May 27, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Report on Royal Commission to meeting at Flinders University 20 May 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINPresentation of Royal Commission to meeting at Flinders University/Tonsley Campus, 20 May 2015

Kevin Scarce outlined purpose of the Royal Commission to examine the 4 issues set out in the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission.- to look at the opportunities and costs of expanding the nuclear fuel chain in South Australia – for the community, environment and economy.

He discussed each of the 4 Issues :

1 Exploration, Extraction and Milling – should this be expanded? Australia has about 30% known U deposits; SA has about 80% of that.

thorium – will consider sources, possible use of this, too.

  1. processing/manufacturing
  • conversion – uranium oxide to uranium hexafluoride
  • enrichment –to concentration suitable for reactors
  • enriched conversion to nuclear fuel/rods
  • medical/scientific isotopes – ANSTO produces these at reactor in Sydney. 10-15% from cyclotrons – one in SA.

3 nuclear reactors/power generation

  1. storage/disposal of nuclear wastes
  • low/intermediate level waste – radioactive materials (clothing, instruments etc) associated with  energy generation – can be treated to assist storage e.g. vitrification; synroc/ceramics;
  • to storage – encased steel & concrete
  • high level – heat produced so stored in wet storage pool to cool – encased in steel & concrete – intended to go to deep geological storage – Finland –developing only one at present  400m underground – operate from 2022 onwards
  • reprocessing of spent fuel rods can recover fuel –large infrastructure & complexity of process

He outlined the process of the Royal Commission. For Any questions needing detailed answer, people can consult the Issues Papers.

There is  a Royal Commission team of 15, who will be seeking national & international expertise. At present – framing ways to examine costs & opportunities. The Commission will be getting balance in talking to experts.

  •        The Commission will examine the issues papers , questions raised on complex processes,  and the Submissions in response to the Issues Papers by – early August response date.  The Submissions will be made public later in the year.
  • not clear here – I think there’s to be release of  & consultation about responses to issues papers– Adelaide & regionally to December
  • Commission will then develop findings – take back to community Feb
  • Final report to SA government – early May 2016


Questions from audience; Commissioner response Continue reading

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Australia’s Aboriginals again threatened by nuclear radiation

handsoffNuclear-hit Aborigines again in radiation danger Verfasst von: Diet Simon, sourcing from beyond nuclear news roundup (Account: Nuclear Worrier). Verfasst am: 25.05.2015

Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometres in Western Australia. On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, an industry leading uranium and processing services company headquartered in Canada,which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia. It bears the name of an area cut out of WA’s largest and most remote national park for mining in 1994.

 Darren Farmer, a burly middle-aged Martu tribal man, told VICE online magazine that “the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no.” But that hasn’t stopped the federal environment minister Greg Hunt from givingKintyre the green light.

The VICE article explains how poverty prompts some Martu to agree to mining on their country and how Darren Farmer and others are physically assaulted for opposing it.

Meanwhile four decades after test explosions of atom bombs in the Maralinga desert area of South Australia, which killed and maimed Aboriginal people, Indigenous people face barriers as they try to contribute to a parliamentary inquiry whether the state should start a nuclear fuel cycle industry.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINA requirement for all submissions to be sworn in front of a justice of the peace makes it particularly difficult for Aboriginal people, people from remote areas and those with language issues to present their views.

The former Governor [Queen Elizabeth’s representative] of South Australia, Kevin Scarce, who heads the inquiry, is to inspect the Fukushima region of Japan,ravaged by nuclear reactor explosions.

One of the things the inquiry will consider is the storage of nuclear waste from other countries. The federal government is currently looking for a site to dump six cubic metres of nuclear waste that must return to Australia from France for processing this year.

The federal government had previously targeted Aboriginal-owned sites in the Northern Territory, including Muckaty Station, where agreements with Aboriginal governance fell through or stalled. Aboriginal women’s resistance also stopped a 2003 plan by the federal government to dump nuclear waste in South Australia.

The French state-owned nuclear giant Areva is offering to sell its ‘world leading’ nuclear technology to South Australia. “The offer is being reported in the South Australian media without a hint of irony,” comments leading anti-nuclear Australian activist, Jim Green. “A reality check is in order.”

Two former Australian prime ministers, one each from the Liberal [in name only, actually right-of-centre conservative] and Labor [only nominally left] parties have said it would be a good idea for Australia to take in all the world’s nuclear waste. Guess on whose lands.


May 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Royal Commission, South Australia | Leave a comment

Iodine pills for South Australians- is that in the Nuclear Royal Commission’s planning?



Will South Australian communities and nuclear workers get iodine pills, once the State launches into its role as the international nuclear hub?

Canada’s communities near nuclear facilities ware getting them.  Kevin Scarce’s Nuclear Fuel Chain scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINRoyal Commission will be getting Submissions from Canadian nuclear companies. Perhaps the potassium-iodate-pillsCommission will be visiting Canada, as part of its international junket.

Presumably the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission will be keen to keep up with all the safety requirements that Canada has.

May 25, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews, Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Greedy businessmen just can’t wait for the Royal Commission’s final report

greed copyNuclear Royal Commission urged to fast-track storage talks DANIEL WILLS STATE POLITICAL EDITOR THE ADVERTISER MARCH 03, 2015 BUSINESS has urged South Australia’s nuclear Royal Commission to fast-track consideration of hosting the nation’s first major waste dump, amid fears the state could miss out on a lucrative opportunity to take a foothold in a future storage industry.

The Federal Government has announced a new tender process for a national radioactive waste management facility and is seeking site nominations until May 5. However, South Australia’s Royal Commission is not expected to conclude until late this year or early 2016.

BusinessSA chief executive Nigel McBride – “The thing that really stands out as an opportunity is spent nuclear fuel storage,” he said.

“Maybe we need to fast track that. Maybe that’s the part of the Commission that needs to come out first. “We can’t just wait until the Commission is over. They’re calling for it now….

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said an independent advisory panel has been established to assess nominations and advise on the suitability of applicant sites.

The Federal Government has promised “a package of benefits” for the tender winner……..

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney called for the tender to be delayed amid fears a rushed process could harm communities and the environment….

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Nuclear business lobby geared up to make submissions to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

Mr Hundertmark said it was not simple to “overcome the anti-nuclear feeling” but that modern nuclear technology was far safer than older reactors, such as Fukushima in Japan


Scarce,--Kevin-glowKevin Scarce, who is in favour of a debate on nuclear and is heading up the Royal Commission, has said he was sick of hearing politicians say they’re not opposed to nuclear power then doing nothing about it.

The $20bn blueprint to create a nuclear industry in SA  TORY SHEPHERD POLITICAL EDITOR THE ADVERTISER FEBRUARY 22, 2015 A $20 BILLION blueprint to create a South Australian nuclear industry that turns around the state’s fortunes by employing tens of thousands of people has been developed by a panel of experts.

The draft plan says the project would make the state a “world centre” for nuclear energy by offering storage for radioactive waste, enriching our uranium and building nuclear reactors, creating a new industry.

SA Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd, chaired by Bruce Hundertmark, comprises a range of nuclear experts and hopes to work with the US Department of Energy and other major international entities in scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINits quest to make the plan a reality.

The group, which has an office in Wayville, hopes to make a submission to the Royal Commission into a nuclear industry. Continue reading

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission puts up barriers to community participation

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINConservation Council of South Australia, 22 May 15 The SA Nuclear Royal Commission is putting huge barriers in the way of the community to formally participate in the current submission process, with Aboriginal people, people from remote, regional or rural areas, youth, and those with language difficulties particularly affected.

The Royal Commission is currently calling for public input in response to a series of Issues Papers. However, in the Submissions Guidelines they insist that submissions must be typed (not hand-written), and before lodging, a person has to swear in front of a Justice of the Peace (or equivalent) that it is their work.

“This requirement to find a JP will make it very difficult for many in remote areas, and especially for Aboriginal people of South Australia,” said Karina Lester, Yankunytjatjara Anangu Traditional Owner.

“How many JP’s live on the APY Lands or Maralinga Tjarutja Lands. How far does one have to travel to track down a JP?

“This is very unfair of the Commission to put these requirements in place as this will disengage the community and it will be all too hard to put in a submission.

“All South Australians need to contribute into this Royal Commission and feel that they have been consulted the right way.

“Anangu and the Aboriginal people of South Australia have been the ones directly impacted by the Nuclear Industry in the past.  The Government of SA are not learning from the past and hearing and respecting the voices of those who have lost loved ones, lost their sight, skin infections, cancers, and the list goes on,” said Ms Lester.

A sworn oath in front of a Justice of the Peace to lodge a submission is:
– NOT required under the Royal Commissions Act 1917
– NOT required for equivalent Federal or State Parliamentary inquiries

“ Requiring a member of the public to travel to a JP and swear an oath in front of them before they can lodge a submission is a highly unusual, unnecessary and surprising restriction which will stop people getting involved,” said Conservation Council SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.

“If they are concerned about fake or spam submissions, all they need is for individuals to self declare and sign a coversheet. To be forced to swear an oath in front of a JP just to have your say is simply not necessary.

“Rather than creating a genuine community conversation as the Premier hoped, barriers like this will directly prevent a large number South Australians from participating and submitting their views.

“We urge the Commission to change their rules to allow as many South Australians as possible to participate, ” he said.

The last of 3 public information sessions about the Royal Commission will be held today at Adelaide University at 1pmMedia Contact: Meg Sobey, Communications Officer, 0411 028 930


May 22, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission Community Consultation Coober Pedy 14 May 2015

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAIN Transcript by Noel Wauchope, 20 May 2015   This transcript is a reliable account of the proceedings, but is not word for word accurate. As far as possible, I have used the exact words.

KEVIN SCARCE:  My name’s Kevin  I have also here members of my team – Greg  Ward, Wes Taylor, Mary – .  About three months ago the governmnet decided that they wanted an inquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle, so they decided on  a Royal Commission. I have the Terms of Reference..I am responsible to investigate this. My job is to answer the four questions in the Terms of reference. By the end of this process I will deliver a Report to government, by 6th May 2016.
The reasons for this Royal Commission are:
1. It’s an independent inquiry
2. The second reason for a Royal Commission is that it is evidence-based. There is a lot of feeling in the community, about the nuclear fuel cycle. It is important to unearth the facts and also to examine the risks, – so that we have a basis for progress. We can think of this as an opportunity for the future.
3. Thirdly – the purpose to unearth facts. Royal Commissions are  a trusted venue for unearthing facts.
 First I’ll talk about we mean by the nuclear fuel cycle, and what we are attempting to do n this year long examination of the nuclear fuel cycle. I’ll talk about the processes of that cycle.Then about how you can help. I’ll talk about the process we are going to use to engage the community. The nuclear fuel cycle entails  the mining and processing of uranium,  manufacturing of nuclear fuel, and power generation , and storage of wastes – the costs and the risks – 

Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission, South Australia | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors touted to the South Australian Royal Commission

SA inquiry hears of new breed of small nuclear reactors, Financial Review, by Simon Evans, 19 May 15   “…………..The nuclear royal commission being headed by former South Australian governor Kevin Scarce will examine the suitability of small reactors in the Australian energy market and will also scrutinise emerging technologies known as fast neutron reactors. The commission started in mid-April and Mr Scarce has held several community forums across South Australia in the past few weeks and is holding open sessions at the state’s three universities, including Adelaide University, over the next three days starting on May 19.

SMRs Australia

 Those fast neutron reactors are referred to in the industry as Generation IV reactors………….

 The issues paper says some of the new-generation reactors are “designed to use thorium as a fuel”. …………

Mr Scarce also points out that in Britain, which has a deregulated electricity market like the NEM, a new nuclear power generation project for Hinkley Point in Somerset had developed a regulated “contract for difference” model for the purchase of the electricity supplied by the facility to retailers. The £16 billion ($31.30 billion) project, which is being developed by French utility EDF, has started earthworks but there have been delays because of uncertainty around the final investment decision for what would be Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in two decades……..

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | 1 Comment

South Australia’s Pro Nuclear Royal Commission to visit Fukushima and elsewhere

Fukushima deformed  structureNuclear Royal Commission to visit Fukushima disaster area, Adelaide Now PAUL STARICK CHIEF REPORTER THE ADVERTISER MAY 17, 2015  FORMER governor Kevin Scarce will inspect the Fukushima region, which was ravaged by a nuclear power plant accident, as part of the Royal Commission he is leading.

His three-person delegation next week will study the failed processes which resulted in a significant amount of radioactive waste being released into the atmosphere at the Daiichi Nuclear Plant in March, 2011.

They expect to go inside the 30km nuclear disaster exclusion zone, from which more than 150,000 people were ordered to evacuate as a result of the accident, caused by coolant loss following a tsunami.

“We’ll be looking at technologies in Japan and we’ll also be looking to talk to people who are against the nuclear fuel cycle,” Rear Admiral Scarce said.

The fact-finding mission is part of a global study tour of more than a fortnight, which also includes Taiwan, Finland, Austria, France and the United Kingdom……..

The delegation also will visit the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations agency which promotes the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies……..

he said SA needed to examine future economic opportunities as car and component manufacturing closes or declines……

Rear Admiral Scarce has completed community meetings across the state in venues including Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Berri, Coober Pedy, Maralinga, Oak Valley and Umuwa on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands.

The Royal Commission’s community meetings this week will be held at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus tomorrow, Flinders University’s Tonsley Park campus on Wednesday and Adelaide University’s Bonython Hall on Friday. See for details.

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Senator Bob Day wants nuclear submarines built in South Australia

Day, Bob nukes  9 February 2015 Family First Senator Bob Day today welcomed the South Australian Government’s move for a Royal Commission into the nuclear industry, saying the decision has enhanced prospects for submarines to be built in South Australia….

“On nuclear-powered subs, since 1 July in Federal Parliament I’ve been urging the Senate to follow the example of the late Norm Foster, the former Labor MP who had the courage to cross the floor to support uranium mining at Olympic Dam.  Now the Government is going a step further to investigate how the nuclear industry would benefit South Australia.”

“This opens the door to nuclear submarines.  I’ve been an advocate for nuclear submarines for many years, and the former Defence Minister welcomed my ‘opening the nuclear submarines debate’ during Question Time late last year [video]. One of the major obstacles to Australia considering nuclear submarines has been the absence of a domestic nuclear industry.”……


May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Royal Commission, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Canadian nuclear manufacturer to make submission to South Australian Royal Commission



The Australian pro nuclear Thorium lobby has asked the Canadian firm Terrestrial Energy to put in a Submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.  This company is trying to market the  Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR).

Australians need to be aware of the agressive marketing methods of the purveyors of these new, untested highly expensive nuclear gimmicks.


May 14, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Crystal ball-gazing in South Australia’s Nuclear Commission ISSUES PAPER No. 3

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionDennis Matthews, 13 May 15 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE (sic) ROYAL COMMISSION ISSUES PAPER THREE


Once again we have an issues paper full of pro-nuclear conjecture and crystal ball-gazing with statements like “research has been undertaken”, “under development”, “are proposed”,   “soon to demonstrate”, “could potentially”, “could, if commercialised”, “may be”,” might encourage” and “could have”.  The history of the nuclear industry is a history of overstated optimism. Policy makers would do well to stick to the facts rather than optimistic forecasts from vested interests.

Ionising has been constantly dropped from “ionising radiation”, especially in the section on operational health and safety.  At best this is sloppy science but given the history of the nuclear industry, it might well be considered mischievous.

The word “nuclear” is frequently dropped especially when talking about nuclear reactors. This demonstrates the sensitivity of the nuclear industry to its image. Ironically, the nuclear industry appears to be loathe to admit that it has anything to do with its own scientific and technical foundation. Continue reading

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment


Should SA accept high-level nuclear waste from overseas?
How much money might be made by taking nuclear waste from other countries? There is no precedent to base an estimate on. It is doubtful whether it would generate any more
than a fraction of the revenue that some lobbyists claim it might. There are many constraints, such as the fact that some countries with significant nuclear power programs − such as Russia, France, and India − operate reprocessing plants so would be unlikely to want to send spent fuel to Australia. BHP Billiton’s submission to the Switkowski Review states
that the utilities to which it sells uranium “generally regard their spent fuel as an asset”.
Prof. John Veevers from Macquarie University states: “Tonnes of enormously dangerous
radioactive waste in the northern hemisphere, 20,000 kms from its destined dump in
Australia where it must remain intact for at least 10,000 years. These magnitudes − of
tonnage, lethality, distance of transport, and time − entail great inherent risk.
scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINSOUTH AUSTRALIA’S NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION ISSUES- SUMMARY -May 2015 Prepared on behalf of the Conservation Council SA by Dr Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, Melbourne. The Conservation Council of South Australia (Conservation SA) is the peak environment group in the state, representing around 50 non-profit environmental organisations.
Conservation SA does not support an expansion of South Australia’s role in the nuclear cycle. Uranium mining in SA has a history of very significant environmental impacts that show no signs of abating. The nuclear industry has caused suffering and displacement of Aboriginal communities over many decades, from the toxic legacy of Maralinga nuclear testing, uranium mining operations and attempts to impose unwanted nuclear waste dumps.
All forms of energy generation have some environmental impact. To determine the lowest impact options, we need to assess each technology across its entire life cycle. Unfortunately, this is rarely done. Emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle will increase as relatively high-grade uranium ores are mined out and are replaced by the mining of lower-grade ores. Nuclear power brings with it a range of unavoidable risks to public health and safety that other energy options simply do not. Nuclear is also a high-cost option that has never been viable without generous taxpayer support.
The Royal Commission provides an opportunity for all of the impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle to be assessed, and Conservation SA will be actively participating to ensure that it does. This document outlines a summary of our thinking. For more information see the full issues paper.

Continue reading

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Millions are being wasted on a commission dominated by pro-nuclear interests

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDennis Matthews 11 May 15 The energy and capital intensive, economically and environmentally disastrous, desalination plant fiasco (The Advertiser, 11/5/15) epitomises the mental bankruptcy of the South Australian Liberal-Labor duopoly.

Hard on the heels of the desalination disaster comes an equally desperate proposal by the Liberal-Labor duopoly – the expansion of the nuclear industry in South Australia. This capital intensive, environmentally and economically disastrous proposal comes at a time when South Australia could be capitalising on its natural advantage in renewable energy.

Millions are  being wasted on a commission dominated by pro-nuclear interests whilst essential services such as regional hospitals are being closed thereby shifting health costs onto taxpayers in regional areas.

And amongst the ideas being discussed by the Scarce Commission is guess what – a nuclear powered desalination plant.

Talk about slow learners.

May 11, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment


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