Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Maralinga: Australia’s cheap and nasty treatment of Aboriginal people

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal peopleEcologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014  Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back! The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.

Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.

Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called ‘Native Patrol Officers’ patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place – with little success.

‘Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by“ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.

As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners.

The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the ‘clean-up’ was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.” ………..http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

Renewable energy and diesel hybrid power for remote Coober Pedy

Coober-PedyPROPOSED $18M RENEWABLE ENERGY DIESEL HYBRID PROJECT AT COOBER PEDY Coober Pedy Regional Times July 14, 2014  Coober Pedy in the Far North of South Australia, hosting a population of around 3,000 people, derives it’s electricity from a 3.9 MW diesel power station, and a 0.15MW wind turbine.

Power capacity in the small desert town is set to increase to a massive 8.9 MW pending outcomes of today’s announcement that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has approved $18.5 million of support for a renewable energy, diesel hybrid project at Coober Pedy in South Australia.

The project is subject to a final investment decision by power provider Energy Developments Limited (EDL), along with approvals and agreements. If approved, completion is anticipated in mid-2017.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Energy Developments Limited (EDL) is proposing to combine wind, solar and diesel to provide the town with 70 per cent renewable energy over the life of the project. (picture below adapted from .http://cooberpedyregionaltimes.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/proposed-18m-renewable-energy-diesel-hybrid-project-at-coober-pedy/#more-8751)

cockies-Coober-Pedy

“With ARENA’s support, EDL is seeking to integrate up to 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation and enabling technologies into its existing 3.9 MW diesel power station at Coober Pedy,” Mr Frischknecht said.

This ambitious project may demonstrate a combined approach for powering off-grid Australian communities that currently rely solely on expensive trucked-in diesel.

Yanni Athanasiadis, the Vice Chairman of Coober Pedy’s Retail Business and Tourism Association said today, “This is very good news for Coober Pedy that ARENA have allocated $18.5M towards a potential renewable energy diesel hybrid plant.”……….

Vice President of Coober Pedy Opal Miners Association John Dunstan said that the Miners Associaton has offered to allow the Solar and Wind infrastructure to be situated on a site opposite the existing power station, that the Association uses for it’s own industry purposes.

“If it’s going to help bring cheaper power to the Coober Pedy residents and businesses, the Miners Association are very willing to allow the installations of the 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation on it’s land.”

“Currently EDL have erected a wind monitor at the location to monitor wind speeds at Coober Pedy for the next 12 months to help determine what size turbines will be used”, said Dunstan. “Coober Pedy’s current wind turbine is 0.15MW but these new turbines will be over twice the size.” he said.

.Mr Frischknecht said the project will include short-term energy storage, fast start diesel engines and an advanced control system to enable smooth operation.

“These enabling technologies have been successfully tried and tested by Hydro Tasmania at the ARENA-supported King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project and this represents an opportunity to see them evolve for use on the mainland and in an outback community that has few alternative energy options,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Further demonstration of these technologies is expected to reduce costs over time and improve opportunities for future deployment without subsidies…….http://cooberpedyregionaltimes.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/proposed-18m-renewable-energy-diesel-hybrid-project-at-coober-pedy/#more-8751

July 16, 2014 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

How South Australian Aboriginals won in their battle against nuclear waste dumping

handsoffThe bipartisan nuclear war against Aboriginal people, Dr Jim Green, Online opinion 11 July 14 “……….Dumping on South Australia  The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”. The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA, the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications − it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby. Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005: ”My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.” Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that ”we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that ”we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”………http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16489&page=3

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Costly problems, legal battles, face owners of Four Mile uranium mine

radiation-sign-sadFour Mile mine opens amid tensions between owners, World Nuclear News, 26 June 2014 The Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia was officially opened on 25 June, but its minority owner wants to sell its stake and is preparing a legal battle against the project operator…….EdwardSterck, a senior mining analyst at London-based BMO Capital Markets, said he did not think there was “any huge significance” in the opening of Four Mile. “It appears that they are using the existing Beverley plant which suggests that production from Four Mile is replacing production at Beverley,” Sterck told World Nuclear News.

Quasar Director Dave Roberts said there is remaining ore at the Beverley mine that “can and will be” extracted at a future point in time. “But today, we are dedicating the full processing capacity of Beverley to the production of Four Mile uranium,” Roberts said during TV coverage of the opening ceremony.

ACE’s parent company Melborne-based Alliance Resources announced last week it had appointed Deloitte Corporate Finance to lead the sale of its 25% stake in the project. Alliance said the sale would “free up funds” for the company to develop its exploration portfolio.

In the meantime, the court case is looming for ACE’s 2010 filing against Quasar Resources – on the basis of “misleading and deceptive conduct” – having been set for 30 June.

ACE has said it is “seeking restitution for the 75% interest in the exploration licence for Four Mile, citing, among other issues, Quasar’s failure to disclose information relating to the prospectivity of part of the tenement.” ACE also contends that Quasar, “with the assistance or participation of” its affiliate Heathgate Resources, breached its obligations under the joint venture agreement……..

ACE said in January it had elected to vote against Quasar’s revised start-up plan for the Four Mile project, which would see uranium capture at Heathgate’s Pannikan plant, and precipitation, drying and packing at Heathgate’s Beverley processing plant. ACE said the parties should instead construct a stand-alone plant at Four Mile in order to reduce operating costs. Heathgate Resources, which like Quasar is based in Adelaide, is the owner and operator of the Beverley uranium mine in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

First discovered in 2005, the Four Mile uranium deposit is 550 km north east of Adelaide in the Frome Basin. State and federal regulators approved the mining lease for the project in April 2012 and more than AUD 120 million ($113 million) has been invested so far, the government said. The mine’s owners expect to produce up to 1.6 million pounds from the mine this year, it said. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-South-Australias-Four-Mile-uranium-mine-opens-amid-tensions-between-its-owners-26061401.html

June 28, 2014 Posted by | business, legal, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian govt to open up nuclear weapons test site to Aboriginal people, AND to uranium mining!

Maralinga signTraditional Maralinga Tjaruta people gain unrestricted access to rehabilitated land where nuclear testing occurred news.com.au 3 June 14  The federal government will on Wednesday announce 1782 square km in area will be formally excised from the Woomera Prohibited Area at the request of the Maralinga Tjaruta people……..

Maralinga Tjarutja general manager Richard Preece said the decision would enable the traditional owners to enter section 400 without seeking approval from the Defence Department.

“We didn’t think it’s sensible to have within the range something that would probably be the last place in Australia you’d want to drop bombs on,’’ Mr Preece said…….

Nuclear testing was conducted by the British government in Australia between 1952 and 1963.

Maralinga was officially closed in 1967.

The federal government hopes a bill opening the Woomera Prohibited Area for exploration and mining will be passed by Parliament during its winter sittings. Up to $35 billion worth of iron ore, gold and uranium is believed to lie beneath the ground in the prohibited area.

If the bill becomes law, it will create a new access regime for non-Defence users.

The State Government and federal Labor MPs have been pushing for the bill to be passed as soon as possible, arguing it will create new economic opportunities for South Australia, which could help offset the impact of the Holden closure. http://www.news.com.au/national/south-australia/traditional-maralinga-tjaruta-people-gain-unrestricted-access-to-rehabilitated-land-where-nuclear-testing-occurred/story-fnii5yv4-1226942188796

June 4, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, uranium | 3 Comments

No future in sight for Yeelirrie or Kintyre uranium mines, nor for Olympic dam expansion

text-uranium-hypeUranium fall dents Olympic outlook  BARRY FITZGERALD THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 27, 2014  BHP Billiton’s recasting of its ­expansion plans for its Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine in South Australia’s outback have been served up a new challenge — the collapse in uranium ­prices.

Spot uranium has fallen 30 per cent in the past 12 months to $US28.15 a pound, plunging most of the world’s uranium-only mines into losses. More telling has been the steady decline from the record price of $US137 a pound in mid-2007, due in part to the fall in demand in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

BHP dropped plans for a big-bang expansion of Olympic Dam in mid-2012, blaming the $30 billion cancellation on the over-heated resources sector and the country’s high-cost environment. Concerns about uranium’s outlook post-Fukushima was also a factor……….

When it shelved the big-bang expansion plan, BHP said it would investigate a less capital-intensive design, and one that drew on new mining and processing technologies to improve the economics of the project.

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie also undertook in September to say more about plans for the expansion “within about a year’’. While that timing is almost up, BHP’s considerations of what the price slump means for the future of what is the world’s biggest uranium deposit makes its planning for an expansion all the more complex.

Like the rest of the industry, BHP will be pinning its hopes on the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan, and the forecast surge in China’s nuclear power industry, to eventually produce more sustainable prices — in the context of being able to make a profit from the material at any rate……..

“uranium prices continue to suffer downward pressure and we do not see any reason to expect improvement soon.’’ -Tim Gitzel, the chief executive of Canadian uranium giant Cameco, which owns two of the world’s biggest undeveloped uranium deposits in Western Australia — Yeelirrie and Kintyre.

That means that neither Yeelirrie, acquired from BHP, and Kintyre, acquired from Rio Tinto, are  about to be developed anytime soon…..

May 27, 2014 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The beautiful giant cuttlefish is back – thank goodness no desalination plant at Spencer Gulf

Here is some good news.   Note that if BHP Billiton’s plans had gone ahead – for the world’s biggest man made hole at Olympic Dam – well, this news might not have been possible.  BHP’s grandiose plan involving building a desalination plant at Mount Lowly. That would have altered the delicate balance of salinity and fresh water in upper Spencer Gulf  – a balance that is essential for the embryo cuttlefish to survive.

Australia would have lost a unique and beautiful  animal – one as special as the koala, kangaroo, platypus –  –  a gain for the uranium industry, a loss for the tourist industry, and for Australia’s ecology.

cuttlefish,-giant

Giant Australian cuttlefish swarm back to SA Spencer Gulf breeding site ABC News, 21 May 14, Hundreds of giant Australian cuttlefish have swum into breeding grounds at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia, reversing a worrying decline of recent years.

The population had been dwindling and local diver Tony Bramley says he had not been expecting to see any this season, based on that trend.

He says it has been warmer-than-usual weather for the start of the breeding season and more cuttlefish might arrive as temperatures drop.

Mr Bramley says he does not know where the cuttlefish have travelled from as there has been no sign of many gathering offshore in recent weeks…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-20/cuttlefish-swarm-back-to-sa-breeding-site/5463854

May 21, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia | Leave a comment

Solar power – floating panels a benefit for water short South Australia

Floating solar power plant would reduce evaporation, proponent says ABC News By Matthew Doran 12 May 2014 A solar power plant which is planned for South Australia would float on a wastewater treatment basin.

Geits ANZ is proposing the venture and director Felicia Whiting thinks it would prove at least 50 per cent more efficient than a land-based solar power system.”It’s very much like a traditional solar array with the exception that it’s designed to float on the water,” she said. (Below, Solar floating panels in France)

solar-floating-plant-France

“The mass of water has a cooling effect on the panels and we also include a cooling system utilising the water body itself to be able to keep the water panels … at a constant temperature. “When that happens, you get a longer life of the photovoltaic panels and you get a greater efficiency.” In actual design, Ms Whiting says the floating solar plant would not differ greatly from a traditional one.”The system is designed from a HDP (high-density polyethylene) pipe, which is the buoyancy, and it has a structural steel pontoon sitting abreast that and then the PV (photovoltaic) panels slot into the structural system,” she said. “It’s like a racking system with buoyancy.”

She says having the wastewater largely covered by a floating plant brings other benefits. “We’re at about 90 per cent water evaporation prevention for the surface area that we cover,” she said. “In a dry climate like South Australia that’s about 2.5 metres of water evaporation depth annually that you’re saving.

“It’s a world-first for putting a system of this nature on a treated wastewater plant basin.”

Other evaporation savers in the planning

Geits has floating plants operating in France, Italy and Korea………

Geits has applied to the Essential Services Commission for an electricity generation licence.

Ms Whiting hopes construction on the ponds of the Northern Areas Council waste treatment plant can start in the second half of this year.

“Because it’s a prefabricated system we’re looking at a commissioning date of around September, October,” she said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/floating-solar-power-plant-would-reduce-evaporation/5445912

May 13, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Evidence mounts on benefits of Renewable Energy target: South Australia’s wind energy success

Map-South-Australia-windSouth Australian Wind Power – Economical And Effective http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4299 A new report shows wind power in South Australia has not increased wholesale electricity prices, nor created a need for additional back-up power generation capacity.

   Around a quarter of South Australia’s electricity is now sourced from wind power; growing substantially from just 6% in 2005/6.
   
The eight year study of South Australia’s electricity sector by Windlab Systems shows during the period between 2005 and 2013, wholesale electricity prices have not risen, even if the full cost of the renewable energy certificates (REC) is included. Publicly available data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was utilised for the study.
 
Reliance on expensive and emission-intensive peaking power plants has reduced as have electricity imports from Victoria states the report. Windlab says electricity related carbon emissions have plummeted 34% even though power consumption has remained stable.
  
“The findings should provide clear guidance to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) review panel that wind energy and by association the RET should not be a scapegoat for explaining increases in domestic and business energy costs,” says Roger Price, the CEO of Windlab.  “The study further underpins the conclusions of the Clean Energy Council’s commissioned report into the positive cost implications of the RET.”
  
The Clean Energy Council report indicates abolishing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) would see Australian households paying billions more for electricity.
  
A copy of Windlab’s study report can be viewed here (PDF).
  
The evidence is mounting that the benefits of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target far outweigh the costs. Even so, there are fears the RET review is heading towards a “predetermined and biased outcome” that will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment and also create additional financial burden on Australian households and businesses.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

South Australian State govt aiming for uranium enrichment !


exclamation-South Australia digs deep on future of ur
anium http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/south-australia-digs-deep-on-future-of-uranium/story-fnii5yv7-1226905247217 SHERADYN HOLDERHEAD MILES KEMP THE ADVERTISER MAY 04, 2014
THE State Government’s mining department has continued to explore uranium enrichment, despite the minister saying there is no business case for it. Documents released under Freedom of Information also show the State Government wants to ship the uranium ore already mined in SA through eastern ports to make it more cost effective.

Emails between Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy Department executives shows they planned a meeting in December with a University College London Master’s graduate whose thesis showed the State Government should invest in uranium enrichment.

South-Australia-nuclear

The emails suggested the graduate give a talk to the Olympic Dam Task Force and attached a summary of the paper, which stated that the SA Government should invest in uranium enrichment company URENCO.

The summary states a strategic investment would provide access to profits without the risk of developing a new technology and leaving options open for Australia to construct a future uranium enrichment facility.

Another report prepared for the State Government into how to make the state’s uranium industry more profitable and allow new mines to open suggests eastern states be lobbied to allow shipment from higher-traffic ports such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Its report says found government should take a leadership role in lobbying for improvement which included a “discussion document around options for addressing access to east coast shipping ports”. Adelaide and Darwin are the only ports from which uranium shipping is now permitted.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said there were no plans to export uranium from Queensland ports. A Victorian Government spokesman said that “the proposal is not something that has been considered … Any proposal would need to be assessed to consider environmental implications, port handling and also transport arrangements’’.

In 2011, Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis, publicly backed by then treasurer Kevin Foley, called for change from the traditional approach of simply mining uranium and sending it offshore.

“We’ve got to value add here in SA. Down the track, I would like to see some form of enrichment, some sort of value add. We have to go out and passionately support the uranium industry,’’ he said at the time.
But in April last year, he said there was no case for it “any time in the near future” because it was not commercially viable.

Mr Koutsantonis said the department was not “investigating” uranium enrichment but that it was “keen to foster relationships between universities” and was often approached to discuss a range of policy issues.

He said that SA Government has not been presented with a viable business case for enrichment, and had not approached the eastern states to use their ports.

Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire said the government needed to “come clean” with their plans for uranium. “They’ve tricked their way back into office and it’s no longer acceptable for them to sidestep important issues on alternative energy sources,” he said.
“Why are they doing secret work, what are their intentions? And if they’re not considering it, then why allow the department to look at options?”

May 5, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

South Australian scheme to install solar panels at no cost

Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for 5000 businesses and households http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/tindo-solar-will-install-solar-panels-free-for-5000-businesses-and-households/story-fni6uma6-1226893885057 RICHARD EVANS THE ADVERTISER APRIL 23, 2014 A NEW solar scheme could get thousands of SA households equipped with free panels and paying cheaper bills for life.

Mawson Lakes solar panel manufacturer Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for an estimated 5000 businesses and households around the state in the next year.

However, if the scheme proves popular the company says there will be no cap on the number of people able to sign up.

Customers will pay for electricity for an agreed time frame of up to 15 years before owning the panels outright.Tindo business and people manager Richard Inwood said the scheme would be a “game changer” and revolutionise the electricity market in Australia. 

“Instead of us selling the system, we’re selling the electricity that that system is generating – that electricity is going to pay off that system,” he said.“We have now become a retailer of 100 per cent green energy that is cheaper than what can be purchased from the grid.”

Solar Tindo South Aust

“SA Power Networks made more than $300 million profit last financial year – that shows how much fat is in there.”

Tindo Solar secured a $30 million loan, under the Federal Government-funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation, last week to install the systems with more money available if demand exceeds expectations, Mr Inwood said.

He said the scheme would provide customers with daytime electricity prices that were 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than most other providers. “Energy has increased around 70 per cent in the last seven years,” he said. “If you look at the average electricity cost per kilowatt it’s 35 to 42 cents per kilowatt – we will provide you with a price of around 25c a kilowatt.”

“Price rises will be no more than one per cent per annum and we want to take the worry around energy price increases away from the public generally and give them certainty. It’s the long term certainty over your energy bills that is exciting.”

Mr Inwood said the company guaranteed its flagship panels had a 240V AC output, with testing at Tindo of other imported panels installed in South Australia revealing the actual output often does not always match the higher voltage promise and brings associated safety compromises.

He said an anticipated upsurge in business for the Mawson Lakes business could mean more jobs for the company.

“Recruiting and on-boarding of factory staff could take as little as four weeks,” he said.

“We currently have 24 staff and would see this at least treble if we are to get the $30 million spent in two years which is what is required.”

Mr Inwood said the State Government also supported the scheme with a tender for 200 public housing homes in the pipeline.

 FACTS:

 Upfront cost – $0.

Repayment time frame – up to 15 years – longer in some cases. Customer will own the system at the end of the agreement.

Price per kilowatt – 20-30 per cent cheaper than traditional energy providers.

Annual price rises – up to 1 per cent a year.

Expected uptake – 5000 businesses and households in the next year.

READ MORE: Tindo Solar welcomes ACCC probe into solar advertising

April 25, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s very misplaced enthusiasm for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.

The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.

Keith Orchison reports on the Grattan Institute submission:

‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’

Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as Lego-like’.

Why now?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, South Australia, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

BHP getting out of uranium mining

BHPB-sadBHP weighs divestment options  Mining Weekly By: Esmarie Swanepoel 1st April 2014 PERTH – Mining giant BHP Billiton on Tuesday said it was “reviewing” and “assessing” its divestment options, after media outlets in Australia reported that the company was considering a $20-billion demerger plan……..

As we have said previously, the simplification of our portfolio is a priority and is something we have pursued for several years,” BHP said in response to the market speculation, adding that in the last two years, the company had completed a number of divestments in Australia, the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK.

Divestments included petroleum, copper, coal, mineral sands, uranium and diamond assets……….

BHP told shareholders that the company would actively continue to study the next phase of simplification, including its structural options, but noted that it would only pursue those avenues that maximised value for the company’s shareholders.

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie has previously said that Australia would remain a focal point for the company, pointing out that the country accounted for about 70% of its profits……..http://www.miningweekly.com/article/bhp-weighs-divestment-options-2014-04-01

April 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Adelaide wake up: the nuclear lobby is trying to put it over you!

Brett Burnard Stokes  30 March 14 Fight the false claim that Adelaide people want nuclear power – like this new Facebook page to show your opposition to plans for nuclear reactors in South Australia. https://www.facebook.com/NukeFreeAdelaide

Adelaide is under attack from nuclear advocacy fraudsters who tell lies to promote their evil nuclear fantasies.

Our universities and our politicians have been “influenced” by junk science that falsely claims that nuclear power is “safe”.

Our universities and our politicians have been “influenced” by junk economics that falsely claims that nuclear power is “cheap”.

diagram-funding-for-UCL

Our newspapers falsely claim that we want nuclear power in South Australia – this page is a place where you can register your protest at this false claim, where you can say “No Nukes In South Australia”.

 

March 30, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry interests helped along by South Australian government

money-lobbying

Dennis Matthews 27 March 14 Today’s (Adelaide) Advertiser contains an article about a new uranium mine in SA. Apparently the SA Government has given $50,000 of taxpayers money to the Ian Wark Institute at the University of SA for them to study a way of recovering the uranium from this proposed in-situ-leach uranium mine.

ANSTO is also involved. The Ian Wark Institute was set up by someone with a long history of involvement in the nuclear industry. I think he was involved in the early days of the Synroc project, another ANSTO project which seems to have fizzled out after spending umpteen million of taxpayer’s money.

March 28, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

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